Ridgefield volleyball deals Fairfield co-op 3rd loss

The Fairfield co-op volleyball team may have lost its third match, but it gained confidence in its match Wednesday against Ridgefield.

Karl Liapunov led the Tigers with 24 digs, three aces, seven service points and three assists, in their 3-1 (25-18, 23-25, 25-18, 25-22) win over Fairfield on Wednesday at Warde High School.

"They made fewer mistakes," Fairfield coach Garrett Covino said. "In some cases, they forced us into mistakes, and some of the others were mental errors that we need to clean up."

Emilio Renzulli led Fairfield with 12 kills, eight service points and three digs. Fairfield had its five-game win streak snapped, falling to 13-3.

Four Ridgefield players recorded more than 10 kills, as the Tigers improved to 16-1. Ridgefield also shook off a 3-0 loss to Staples it suffered Monday.

And though the Tigers remained unbeaten against teams not from Westport, Covino feels his club gained valuable confidence for the teams' next head-to-head match. Fairfield will meet Ridgefield on Wednesday in the FCIAC tournament's semifinals at 5 p.m. at Fairfield Ludlowe.

"It doesn't matter who wins or loses in the regular season," Covino said. "It matters who is left standing at the end."

Fairfield held a 5-4 lead in game 1, but the Tigers recorded 20 of the next 29 points, building a 24-13 advantage.

"We were a little tight," Covino said. "We started off great ... energy was high ... but I think once they got a couple of points, we tried to do too much."

Gropman's four-point service run got Fairfield within 24-18, but a block out ended the Tigers' game-1 win.

After the Tigers built an 11-8 lead in game 2, Fairfield rallied behind Brandon Lopes' five-point service run. After the teams were tied at 16, Renzulli put Fairfield up for good, thanks to two Ridgefield shots out.

The Tigers had five opportunities to pull even and extend the match, but Fairfield held off Ridgefield each time, finishing game 2 with a 25-23 win.

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After Ridgefield cruised to a 25-18 win in game 3, Fairfield built a 3-1 lead in game 4. But thanks to some Fairfield mistakes, the Tigers built a 20-13 advantage.

Though Fairfield rallied within 24-22, Jonathan Hicks' kill sealed the Tigers' win.

"I'm not disappointed in this match at all," Covino said. "We played our game. We just made a few too many errors, and that was really it."

ppickens@bcnnew.com; twitter.com/Pat_Pickens

RIDGEFIELD 25 23 25 25-- 3

FAIRFIELD 18 25 18 22-- 1

Records: R-- 16-1; F 13-3; Highlights: Ridgefield-- Karl Liapunov (24 digs, 3 aces, 7 service points, 3 assists), David Linder (10 kills), Jonathan Hicks (13 kills, 7 service points), Tyler Chittenden (16 kills, 7 service points), Paul Cooke (3 kills, 8 service points, 5 digs, 49 assists); Fairfield-- Emilio Renzulli (12 kills, 8 service points, 3 digs), Alec Gropman (1 kill, 11 service points, 6 digs, 22 assists), Brandon Lopes (2 kills, 12 service points, 4 digs, 1 block).