Stamford volleyball sweeps Warde
STAMFORD -- In the extremely challenging world of FCIAC girls volleyball, a fast start to a season is a must in order to keep pace with the myriad of league powerhouses.
Therefore, Stamford High veteran head coach Mike Smeriglio is a happy man. His Black Knights improved to 2-0 overall Wednesday by winning its FCIAC season opener over Fairfield Warde, 25-9, 25-16, 25-8 at Kuczo Gym.
"We graduated a big core of players from last year including our setter Kirsi Balazs and our All-State hitter Brianna Gordon," Smeriglio said. "But this year's team has five seniors who get along very well. You could see our confidence on the court. But we know they are so many really good teams in the league still to come."
One reason for Stamford's fine performance was the benefit of posting a 3-1 non-league road victory over Weston Tuesday.
"We do have some new young players and they got their feet wet against Weston. Our new setter (sophomore Liisa Balazs) also got a game under her belt," Smeriglio said. "The girls relaxed today. They enjoyed playing their first home game. Warde is a good team but we were really on."
Indeed Warde (1-1, 0-1) opened Tuesday with a 3-0 non-league triumph over Bunnell.
But the Mustangs had few answers against Stamford.
The key was Stamford dominated early in all three games.
In Game 1, the serving of Cali Schenkel (19 service points) and Balazs (19 service points) built leads of 4-0 and 16-2 before winning 25-9.
In Game 2, the serving of Nicole Pease (opening six points) and Schenkel (eight straight points) built leads of 6-0 and 15-2 before eventually winning 25-16.
"Serving was a point of emphasis for our entire team," Stamford senior hitter Anne Margaret Eilertsen said. "We all worked hard on it at summer camp."
Serves are key for Stamford High since it doesn't have many tall hitters for the front line.
Eilertsen (6-feet-0) is the center of the SHS attack and amassed 20 kills in the victory.
"I might finish off the points but everybody's serves and digs and our great passing (Balazs had 24 assists) sets everything up for me," Eilertsen said. "Volleyball is a team sport and our chemistry is really good. We know how to pick each other up."
Game 3 was a replay of the first two as Stamford sophomore lefty server Sara Staley collected nine consecutive points (with three aces) to extend a 5-3 edge to a 15-3 advantage. Schenkel served out the final five points for a 25-8 final.
"Although we beat Bunnell and showed lots of emotion Tuesday, we were very flat today. Back-to-back games are tough," Warde coach Matt Narwold said. "It's hard to stay at that high level. Our communication was off and that's why we were inconsistent. Stamford's hitter (Eilertsen) was so strong. She really hurt us. But give the entire Stamford team lots of credit."
Stamford 3, Warde 0
WARDE 9 16 8 --0
STAMFORD 25 25 25 --3
Records: Warde 1-1, 0-1 FCIAC; Stamford 2-0, 1-0 FCIAC.
Highlights: W -- Hannah Wolf 2 service points, 4 kills. S -- Anne Margaret Eilertsen 20 kills, 2 blocks; Cali Schenkel 4 kills, 10 service points, 2 aces; Liisa Balazs 24 assists, 19 service points, 1 block.