Fairfield Ludlowe girls volleyball advances to Class LL state semifinals
Redemption was the word of the night for Fairfield Ludlowe in its Saturday's Class LL state playoff volleyball match with Ridgefield.
The Falcons used it to advance to the semis.
After winning the first game and losing the second, No. 2 Ludlowe rolled to a 3-1 (25-20, 23-25, 25-13, 25-19) win over No. 7 Ridgefield on Saturday night at Fairfield Ludlowe High School.
"We worked so hard to get this far," Ludlowe captain Ali Krikau said. "We needed to win this for us and prove that we can beat them."
Ludlowe avenged a 3-2 loss to the Tigers on Sept. 21. Ludlowe will advance to take on another FCIAC foe in Staples, tomorrow in the semifinals at 7:30 p.m.
"We were a little nervous, they had beaten us earlier in the season," Ludlowe head coach Meghan Skelton said. "I just said `just go out there and play our game, and we're fine'."
Krikau also had a big hand in helping Ludlowe win. The senior captain recorded three aces, 11 service points and 27 digs at her libero position.
Despite falling behind in game one, 4-1, Ludlowe struck back when Marissa Mullen (12 kills, five blocks) served three aces in a row and five straight service points to put Ludlowe ahead 7-4. Ludlowe increased its lead as the game progressed, topping off at 16-7, before holding on to win 25-20.
The Falcons trailed for almost the entire second game and were as far back as 22-18. The Falcons rallied to tie the game at 22 and then again at 23, but the Tigers recorded the final two points for a 25-23 win.
"We got a little bit confident in game two and we got surprised," Krikau said. "We shouldn't have expected to roll over them."
After game two, Skelton challenged her team to regain its focus and prove that it was the better team.
Ludlowe did, putting on a dominant performance spearheaded by its front line. Mullen, Maddie McCaffrey (11 kills, two aces, seven service points, 12 digs) and Amy Bethge (seven kills, six blocks) were extremely active in blocking spikes and Ridgefield returns.
"I've been working them to death," Skelton said. "I'm very very proud of them. I said we had to own that net."
Ludlowe gradually increased its advantage as the game progressed and Bethge iced the third game with a spike that could not be returned to give the Falcons a 25-13 win.
Ludlowe again dominated in game four, jumping ahead to a 15-9 lead. Ridgefield cut the lead to 23-19, but the Falcons slowed the Tigers' run and sealed the trip to the semifinals, 25-19.
For Krikau, competing in the semifinals is overwhelming and exciting.
"We can't wait to play Staples again," Krikau said. "The first game was so intense and this one will be that much better."