DARIEN -- The Darien girls volleyball team coasted to a 3-0 (25-13, 25-9, 25-12) win over visiting New Canaan on Wednesday afternoon, improving to 10-0 along the way. The rebuilding Rams suffered another setback and stand at 1-7 overall.
Darien's level of play was simply too much for New Canaan's inexperience, yet the Rams were able to take away some positives from this match.
"It was a great match because we were able to see, crystal clear, what we need to work on as a team and individually," New Canaan coach Katie Campbell said, adding that the most glaring area in need of improvement is getting the ball under control throughout matches.
Darien's teamwork and hustle led to some easy put-away shots, and New Canaan's struggles in ball control resulted in a multitude of Darien service points.
Celia Martzolf had 13 service points, six aces, six digs and 18 assists. Teammate Claire Naughton had three service points, an ace, five kills and two blocks. Nicole Schmidt contributed 11 service points, two aces and four kills. Anna Barsanti added seven digs.
"I just feel like our teamwork pulled through and we were able to pick up the energy throughout the game," Schmidt said.
Martzolf agreed that the Blue Wave players worked well together throughout the match. As far as elements of the game are concerned, the Wave had things working across the board from serving to passing to hitting.
"I think most of it was pretty on," Martzolf said. "We had our energy up which was pretty good."
Darien's players found some areas in which they can improve. Schmidt commented that the team can get more aggressive and consistent in its serving game and playing stronger defense.
Campbell was especially pleased with the play of freshman Sarah Van de Graaf, the team's setter, whom the coach noted did a great job of moving around on the court and getting to seemingly every ball within reach.
"She was ready to go," Campbell said.
Gracie Castle had seven digs and a service ace for the Rams. Teammate Hailey Wheeler came up with five digs to go along with a kill and an ace. Madeline Brust added a trio of kills and contributed on the defensive side of things, coming up with a pair of blocks. Pari Koochek racked up 11 digs for New Canaan.
The Rams lost nine players to graduation and one because of a move out of town after last season, Campbell noted. The coach sees her mostly sophomore- and junior-led squad making strides as the campaign unfolds.
"Every practice we're getting better and better," she said.
Campbell hopes the match with Darien helps the team take a big step forward. "Darien will expose your weaknesses," she said.
The matchup is always a fun one for the players, many of whom are familiar with their opponents.
"We've played in camps with a lot of these girls so it's pretty cool to play with them in preseason and see them on the court and play against them," Schmidt said.