Volleyball: Win over Ludlowe has Wilton back in state playoffs

With one season goal already taken care of — eight wins — the Wilton High volleyball team doesn’t plan on resting on its laurels as it heads into the second half of the regular season

On Wednesday, the Warriors lost the first game to visiting Fairfield Ludlowe, 25-21, but came back to sweep the final three games — 25-11, 25-12, 25-23 — for a 3-1 win.

The Warriors improved their record to 8-3, earning their first state playoff berth since 2007.

“I think it was something that we had in our view, especially with us starting 6-0, (but) our schedule gets increasingly difficult. We knew any match we had to win was going to be hard fought,” said Wilton head coach Steve Brienza about the win. “We have some good momentum and we’re super excited about the direction we’re headed.”

Sommer Rogg had seven kills, five digs and eight service points (two aces) to lead the attack, while Rachel Low had 18 service points (nine aces), 22 assists and four digs. Sophie Phelan had nine service points (three aces) and eight digs.

With a state playoff berth in sight, the Warriors started slow on Wednesday and lost the first game to the winless Falcons, before roaring back to dominate games two and three.

“In the first game we kind of made a series of unforced errors,” Brienza said. “They realized the opportunity that was in front of them and they came back and served very aggressively with very few errors in games two and three and that allowed us to take control of those games.”

Game four was back and forth the entire game, with the Warriors using a late run for a come-from-behind 25-23 win, securing the overall match.

Ludlowe fell to 0-8 with the loss. The Falcons are struggling through a rebuilding year, as coach Meghan Skelton graduated eight seniors from last year’s squad the won both the FCIAC and Class L state champs.

“They’re a very young team this year. Next year and the following years, they’re going to be right back where they were last year. They’ve got a lot of talent, a lot of skill,” Brienza said of the Falcons. “Meghan is a great coach and does a great job. They play every area of the game very well. I wouldn’t even count them out for this year.”

Ludlowe was led by Abbie Constantino with nine kills, six digs and four service points, and Zoe Holderied with four kills, four blocks, six digs and four service points (four aces).

Wednesday’s win marked only the 11th time in the past 36 years that Wilton’s hit the eight-win mark, and only the 11th time the team’s qualified for the state playoffs since 1980.

Now, the Warriors have the opportunity to expand their horizons. With a 5-3 FCIAC record, they are in the thick of things to qualify for the conference playoffs for the first time in nine years.

“It’s something the girls are very aware of,” said the coach. “We have the potential to hopefully win more games and qualify for FCIACs for the first time in a long time. We’re going to take the matches one at a time and focus on our opponent on any given day.”

Notes: Wilton also qualified for the state playoffs in 1984, 1986, 1992, 1993, 1999, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2007; and qualified for the FCIAC playoffs in 2003, 2005, 2006 and 2007.

Wilton has won 10 or more matches in a season only seven times — 1984 (11 wins), 1999 (10), 2003 (16), 2004 (11), 2005 (14), 2006 (19) and 2007 (11).

The team’s best season was in 2006 when the Warriors finished 19-3 and reached both FCIAC and state semifinals.