Fairfield co-op volleyball sweeps Harding

Playing on the road at lowly Harding, just two days removed from a statement win, it would be human nature for the Fairfield co-op volleyball team to suffer a letdown.

And though it did suffer a letdown, Fairfield still managed to dominate.

Keyed by Brandon Lopes' big day serving, the Fairfield co-op volleyball team blitzed Harding 3-0 (25-11, 25-16, 25-13) on Wednesday in Bridgeport.

Lopes registered two kills and 14 service points, and Emilio Renzulli gained nine kills, four service points and three digs.

"We could've done a lot better," Lopes said. "We're a lot better than that."

Tim Beradino added four kills, two blocks and two service points. Fairfield won its third straight, improving to 11-2.

Harding fell to 1-11.

Fairfield had beaten Greenwich-- the FCIAC's No. 4 team-- on Monday, essentially sewing up an FCIAC tournament berth. Fairfield also presently is Class L's No. 4-ranked team.

"We are contending for our state and FCIAC ranking," Fairfield coach Garrett Covino said.

Still, Fairfield struggled with its swings Wednesday, especially in game 2. Fairfield spotted Harding a 6-3 advantage in the middle frame.

"I think we need to work on our mental toughness," Covino said. "We didn't have a consistency of focus today. I definitely want to see more of that."

But Eric Thompson's eight-point service run helped Fairfield build a 11-6 lead. Renzulli recorded two of his kills, and Beradino added one.

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Fairfield claimed five of the final seven points in game 2. Lopes' kill capped the 25-16 win.

The Presidents built a 2-0 lead in game three, but Lopes' serving took over again. The senior earned two aces, leading a four-point service run that built Fairfield's edge.

"I was just focusing on getting it over," Lopes said of his serving.

The scrappy Presidents tied the match at four, and every time Fairfield tried to pull away, Harding would answer. A three-point service run by the Presidents' Tyqwan Gardner, capped by an ace, pulled them within 12-11.

"We played down to the competition," Beradino said. "If we had come in with a stronger mindset, we could've done better."

But Fairfield ripped off 12 of the final 14 points, keyed by Lopes' long-service run. Alec Gropman's kill capped game 3, clinching victory for Fairfield.

Fairfield never trailed in game 1, building a 6-0 lead thanks to Lopes' dominant serving.

"[Lopes] has always had the best control on the team of his serve," Covino said. "He's always one that we enjoy having go back to the line."

Fairfield also benefited from eight Harding errors, claiming the game, 25-11.

ppickens@bcnnew.com; twitter.com/Pat_Pickens

FAIRFIELD25 25 25-- 3

HARDING 11 16 13-- 0

Records: F 11-2, H 1-11.