2018 Volleyball Preview
FAIRFIELD - Not too long ago, 2015 to be exact, Fairfield Ludlowe won the Class LL volleyball championship.
Over the last two seasons, however, the Falcons didn’t even qualify for the state tournament.
This season, though, could see Ludlowe make a return to the postseason as head coach Meghan Skelton has a solid core of returning players poised to challenge in the always-tough FCIAC.
“The varsity team is the biggest team I have ever had and all of them are so incredibly talented and will push each other and the whole team toward success,” Skelton wrote in her prospectus to the Citizen. “We are very excited and eager to start the season.”
Last year, the Falcons went 7-12 (6-10 in the FCIAC).
This season, Skelton will be looking at seniors Lainie Costantino, Molly Reynolds, Molly Cronin, Lily Traum and Jess Takami, along with juniors Jo Blanco, Jackie Soderlund, and Margaret Nolan.
“With last year’s younger team building success and turning into juniors and seniors this season we are looking extremely competitive and are looking forward to an exciting season.” Skelton wrote.
Last season, the Mustangs qualified for the Class LL tournament, but its postseason was short-lived as Warde was knocked out in the first round by Glastonbury in three sets.
The always optimistic head coach. Matt Narwold, feels that the Mustangs can battle for both the FCIAC and CIAC championships this fall.
“We have our sights set on the FCIAC and state championships,” Narwold wrote in his prospectus to the Citizen. “Despite graduating a full starting lineup last season, we have 18 varsity players on the roster and this group of players is extremely focused and driven.”
If losing outside hitter Libby McKenna, middle hitter Olivia Parisi, defensive specialist Maura McNeil and setter Claire Sullivan (among others) wasn’t bad enough, Warde will play this season without Grace Dougherty, who tore her ACL during the spring girls’ lacrosse season and will be on the sidelines, leading the team as a non-playing tri-captain.
“It’s a huge loss,” Narwold wrote. “However, she has fully embraced her role as captain from the sidelines, giving fantastic input and feedback to the underclassmen coming up in the program.”
Emma Ibanez (outside hitter) and Troi Luca (defensive specialist) will be captains along with Dougherty.
“This group will be successful as long as they maintain that attitude and passion for the game,” Narwold wrote. “Warde will be physically and mentally prepared for each opponent they face. They want to be the best.”
New coach Sandy Burnell takes over for Jeff Adams, who left after just one season. Last year, the Lancers went 11-11 and lost in the second round of the Class S tournament. And Burnell is looking to keep ND-Fairfield on the winning track heading into the fall campaign.
“I feel the girls are as enthused as I am,” Burnell wrote in her prospectus to the Citizen. “We will have a great building and learning year.”
Four seniors - Vanessa Joseph, Meghan Burke, Olivia Ramos and Mary Keden - will be the cornerstones for Burnell to build around as the Lancers fight to be competitive in the South-West Conference.
“The key to success is playing the game as it was intended to be played … correctly,” Burnell wrote. “This starts and ends with proper fundamentals. As soon as we perfect that strategy, the wins will follow.”