NEW CANAAN -- Always challenging, and generally dominating, Darien visited the New Canaan gymnasium and overcame a spirited effort by the home girls volleyball team to prevail 3-0 (25-19, 25-10, 25-17) on Friday, Sept. 28. The Blue Wave remained perfect at 7-0 and the Rams fell to 3-4.

"They are a tough team. I think our focus and drive to do well really stood out," said New Canaan coach Katie Campbell, who was pleased with her team's overall effort against perhaps the toughest team her squad will face this fall.

Darien's Riley Sousa had 10 kills, 3 service aces, 13 service points and a block, Kathleen Burke picked up 29 assists to go along with 2 aces, 7 service points and a block, and Kelly Kosnik added 11 kills, 4 aces, 8 service points and a block.

New Canaan was led by Annie Conover with 8 kills and 9 digs, Isabelle Herde with 5 kills and 3 digs, Taylor Copeland-York with 14 digs and 2 kills, and Joanna Baran with 15 assists, 6 digs and 3 kills.

The Rams made things tough on Darien early on in the match.

"It really seemed like we came together," said Conover, one of New Canaan's captains, of her team's ability to stay with the Blue Wave throughout the first game.

Darien's firepower, however, took over as the Wave -- which has lost only three games and blanked five opponents -- won the second game with relative ease before finishing off the Rams.

"I feel like we kind of faltered a little bit. We let ourselves get a little bit intimidated and our adrenaline fell back," said Herde, another New Canaan captain. "Hopefully we'll see them again in FCIACs or states."

"It's hard to maintain such a high like we did in the first game, for any team," Campbell said.

Especially against a team such as Darien, which exposed some of New Canaan's weaknesses.

"That's what Darien's good for -- they point out your holes," said Campbell, adding that the Rams will have to make a few tweaks on offense and defense for their upcoming matches.

"Darien is always the most fun and intense game because they are our rivals. It is unfortunate to lose but it's always a fun game because it's Darien," New Canaan captain Emma Stracke said.

There is plenty of mutual respect between the FCIAC foes, and members of both sides look forward to the clash whenever it takes place.

"The girls always love this match," Campbell said. "We always know it's going to be a good game. They always come out with a lot of enthusiasm."

Darien is pretty accustomed to winning, so a challenge from an opponent is welcomed.

"New Canaan is always fun. It's always a fun match. They're always tough to play," said Sousa, one of Darien's captains. "Their defense was really strong. They got it back over."

"We look forward to playing every team. We really like when the other team gives us good competition like New Canaan did," added Kosnik, who walked away from the match knowing her team can improve as well. "I think we need to work on consistency and being aggressive."

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