DARIEN -- It was Darien volleyball's version of business as usual.

Through three quick sets, the Blue Wave knocked off fellow unbeaten Fairfield Ludlowe Monday, 25-12, 25-18, 25-15, in a game that was rarely in question from start to finish. As a result, the Blue Wave (8-0) continued their undefeated set streak while the Falcons' unblemished season start came to an abrupt end. Darien junior Izzy Taylor tallied a game-best eight kills and set an early tone with captain Claire Naughton, who collected three blocks.

"We wanted to be really aggressive and really talk," Taylor said. "They're a great team, so we had to be ready for them .. they have some very good servers and heavy hitters."

Ludlowe (7-1) managed to stake early leads in the first and third sets, but failed to hold on due to bouts of inconsistency, which coincided with lengthy Darien runs. Following the first three points of the game, the Blue Wave rode a 13-3 stretch to a commanding lead, which it kept thanks to steady Anna Barsanti serving as well as Taylor and Naughton spikes. A short string of Darien miscues then pushed the Falcons into double-digits, when the Blue Wave shut the door for a first-set win.

The Wave's errors then spilled over into the second set, as Ludlowe began to regain its top form and claimed a 9-5 edge. However, Darien fought back to an even 17-17 tie, before reeling off an 8-1 run to close the game out for a commanding 2-0 lead.

"We were riding a roller-coaster, unfortunately. We did well and then we crashed down. We did well and we crashed down. And you can't do that against great teams," Ludlowe coach Meghan Eaton said. "We were out of position a lot and simple errors added up."

Down two points in the early stages of the final set, the Blue Wave jumped back into the driver's seat with a 10-2 stretch spurred on by successful Taylor serves. Facing a shutout, the Falcons dug in and forced some of the longest rallies of the game, now trading point for point with their hosts.

"This game had a lot of rallies," Darien captain Celia Martzolf said. "And I think it makes the game more fun. It makes it even more thrilling when you put the ball down after a long play."

No matter how long Ludlowe held on, though, the Blue Wave would not be stopped from executing what it has in every decisive third set this season.

"Always finish. Don't let them get back into it. Hit the gas pedal," Martzolf said.

On the opposite sideline, Eaton relayed an equally simple but far different message for her Falcons.

"Let's learn from this and not repeat this."

Darien returns to the court for another critical home showdown with St. Joseph Wednesday at 4 p.m., when Ludlowe will travel to Trinity Catholic at 5:30.

acallahan@bcnnew.com; @DNCSports

Darien 3, Fairfield Ludlowe 0

LUDLOWE 12 18 15 --0

DARIEN 25 25 25---3

Records: Darien 8-0, 8-0 FCIAC; Ludlowe8-0, 8-0 FCIAC.

Highlights: D -- Izzy Taylor recorded eight kills, two blocks and 11 service points. Claire Naughton notched seven kills, three blocks and three service points. Celia Martzolf dished out 19 assists. L -- Keki Cardenas picked up six kills, four blocks and four digs. Olivia Auray struck five kills and 11 digs.