By Andrew Callahan

After surrendering zero sets through its opening two games, the New Canaan girls volleyball team took to the floor Monday having yet to endure any sort of adversity.

Two sets into their home game with Fairfield Warde, the Rams' first test of 2014 had arrived in the form of an 0-2 deficit.

In response, the Rams pushed back and passed with flying colors.

Gracie Castle served New Canaan into third and fourth set wins and led her team to an eventual 3-2 victory over the Mustangs. The Rams raced out to a sizable edge in the final set, before claiming a 15-8 win for the game. Behind a 20-assist effort from Kiera McNeil, Warde took the opening sets 28-26, 25-22.

"I give New Canaan a lot of credit. They are very aggressive," Mustangs coach Matt Narwold said. "With back-row hitting, they don't stop. They don't give any free balls over. Everything, whether it's good or bad it's going to go over aggressively. The first two games we were handling that really well. In the second half of the game, we weren't being as aggressive as we need to be."

Rams coach Kim Palmer, who's the midst of her first year leading the program, spoke to her team's resolve after some early struggles.

"We were ready to play for every game, but it was unfortunate the first game got away from us towards the end," Palmer said. "Once they realized they can play this game, they never let down. And I have to give it up to Fairfield Warde. They played really hard. We were just able to fight tonight and get a W."

More Information

Fact box

New Canaan senior Chiara Piccoli finished with a team-high 10 kills, helping the Rams stake a definitive win in the third set by the margin of 25-19. However, it was Castle who put her team over the top with a consistently strong serve. She and Piccoli combined for an excellent point that put New Canaan ahead by five late in the third frame, where the Castle provided a backwards bump back across the court to her teammate who provided the kill.

In the ensuring set, New Canaan and Warde deadlocked at 18, 19, 20, 21 and 22 points apiece until Castle spearheaded three straight point wins to knot the game at 2-2.

"She lights it up for us," Palmer said of Castle. "Like I've said before, she's the general on the floor. Everything goes through her. The kids respect her and she's going to get you the ball, so you can't ask for more."

The Rams will return to the floor tomorrow at 4 p.m. in Greenwich for an in-conference contest with the Cardinals.



WARDE 28 25 19 22 8 --2

NEW CANAAN 26 22 25 25 15 --3

Records: Warde 1-3, 0-3 FCIAC; New Canaan 3-0, 3-0 FCIAC.

Highlights: W -- Nicole Vacarella 7 kills; Jenny Schneider 5 service points; Kiera McNeil 20 assists. NC -- Chiara Piccoli 10 kills; Gracie Castle 12 assists, 11 aces.