NEW CANAAN -- Volleyball doesn't have a halftime, but in many ways, it was still a tale of two halves for the Stamford and New Canaan girls squads at New Canaan High School on Tuesday.
The Knights and Rams went down to the wire in the first two games, with each side claiming a victory, but Stamford took total control in Games 3 and 4 to pick up a 3-1 (25-19, 23-25, 25-15, 25-13) victory for its third win in a row.
"We have a great team this year. We have a lot of talent on our team," Stamford's Brianna Gordan said. "Sometimes we come off the bus tired, but usually we just pick it up and we're ready to play."
In Game 1, Gordan established herself at the net and proved problematic for the Rams the entire match. Stamford built its lead as high as 24-14, but New Canaan rallied for five straight points to make matters interesting at 24-19 on the strength of a kill by Emma Stracke and a service ace by Annie Conover. The 10-point deficit proved too much to overcome, however, as Stamford claimed the opener 25-19.
From the time Stamford established an 11-10 advantage in Game 2, neither team could build a two-point lead until New Canaan won two straight points to go up 19-17. From there, the Rams relied on strong play from Conover, Taylor Copeland-York and Joanna Baran among others to hang on for a 25-23 win.
"Really good communication, very aggressive defense (in Game 2)," New Canaan coach Katie Campbell said. "It's really important to have an aggressive defense and they were very aggressive on it, and they got a lot faster than they were in the first game."
The tide turned considerably in Game 3, as Stamford began to limit its mistakes and benefitted from strong play by Katie DeBrisco, Kasia Modzelewska, Daria Aletanska and Gordan en route to the 25-15 victory. Stamford would not surrender the lead after building an early 2-1 lead on the game's first three points.
"New Canaan's passing was unbelievable. We have good jump servers, and they were just picking up everything. Katie Campbell does a phenomenal job with her team, and she deserves a lot of credit," Stamford coach Mike Smeriglio said. "We're also a good team, and we focused in Games 3 and 4 a little more and cleaned up some of the mistakes we were making."
Game 4 was more of the same for Stamford, as it took a 3-2 lead and stayed in front until the end. Gordan notched four of her 11 blocks in the final game.
"We picked it up on our passing and all our kills (in the last two games)," Gordan said. "We actually set it up to kill."
"(Stamford) started playing a little bit more consistently and we played a little bit more defensively versus really going at it aggressively," Campbell said. "So we just needed to re-find our focus and we didn't quite find it in time."
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Stamford 3, New Canaan 1
STAMFORD 25 23 25 25--3
NEW CANAAN 19 25 15 13--1
Records: Stamford 8-2; New Canaan 5-6.
Highlights: S -- Brianna Gordan had 20 kills and 11 blocks. Kiris Balaza had 36 assists. Daria Aletanska had 10 kills. NC -- Taylor Copeland-York had 12 service points, 4 aces, 2 kills and 14 digs. Emma Stracke had 2 service points, 1 ace, 6 kills and 19 digs. Annie Conover had 5 service points, 7 kills and 12 digs.