Falcons volleyball soars to state title
For a team that had no championship expectations early in the season, this turned out to be one heck of a rebuilding year for Fairfield Ludlowe girls volleyball.
The Falcons won the FCIAC championship and then their first CIAC title, winning the Class LL crown in a straight set, 26-24, 25-23, 25-16, win over Greenwich last Saturday night at Berlin High School.
Never saw this coming, Kylie McCaffery?
“To be honest, no,” the Ludlowe senior said. “We had a rough start.”
But the Falcons (22-4) had a great finish, winning their last eight matches. The last victory vanquished a Greenwich team that beat them to open the season and that had a lead deep into each of the first two sets Saturday.
Ninth-seeded Ludlowe won its first CIAC title since the Fairfield schools split in 2004; Fairfield High last won Class L in 2000.
The Falcons had been to the final in 2009, losing to Southington, then in 2010, falling in five to Greenwich, the Cardinals’ only CIAC championship.
Ludlowe lost to Darien in last year’s Class LL semifinal, then lost two of three to open this season.
“We started losing 0-3 to Greenwich. It was quite a rebuilding year,” coach Meghan Skelton said. “It was almost a redo of our lineup except Alice Nelson. The girls were working hard. It was always a good group.”
Nelson was named MVP of Saturday’s match; the senior libero had eight digs.
The team finally got everyone in the right positions late in the season, McCaffery said, and her coach pinpointed when things really started to turn.
“I’d say the loss we had to Warde (3-2 on Oct. 21),” Skelton said. “After that, we realized we really had to get our stuff together.
“We really started jelling after that.”
Greenwich, the 10th seed, led 18-15 in the first set. But with Abbie Costantino on serve, the Falcons went on a run that gave them a 24-21 lead. Though the Cardinals evened it again, a couple of errors gave the Falcons the set.
Again in the second, the Cardinals were up 15-12. Another Costantino run helped Ludlowe even it up before pulling ahead late.
“Unfortunately, we’ve been (down) quite a bit,” Skelton said. “So we’re comfortable. We know we can dig out of a hole.”
McCaffery went on an eight-point run on serve in the third as the Falcons built a big lead.
“That’s heart,” Skelton said. “That’s heart, determination.”
Isabelle Andrews and Costantino led the Falcons with nine kills. The team combined for six blocks against the Cardinals’ offense, led by Abbie Wolf’s 21 kills.