Ludlowe upsets No. 1 Cheshire to reach Class LL title game

SOUTHBURY — For the Fairfield Ludlowe volleyball team, history is repeating in the Class LL state tournament.

The No. 14 seed defeated No. 1 Cheshire 3-1 on Wednesday, and will advance to the championship for the first time since 2015, when it won its first state title in program history.

In that 2015 run, Ludlowe upset Cheshire in the semifinal round before facing Greenwich in the final, who it will face again this year on Saturday at 7 p.m. at East Haven High School.

“That is probably the most exciting part, that we are seeing another FCIAC team in the state final,” Ludlowe senior Phoebe Koskinas said. “We are going to get it, we are feeling it.”

Greenwich was the FCIAC champion this year and is the No. 2 seed in the tournament. The first time the teams met, Greenwich won 3-1, but Ludlowe is as confident as ever after knocking off undefeated No. 1 Cheshire.

“We knew that they were going to be a really tough team to beat,” Ludlowe first year coach Tina Rembish said. “They have a history and a great coach. We knew we were well matched with our FCIAC schedule, and we knew they would be tough but the advantage we had is we have had our backs up against the wall many times before.”

Cheshire took the first set 25-18, but led 22-9 at one point. Ludlowe’s 9-3 run towards the end of the set would spark momentum that would carry throughout the rest of the match.

“For whatever reason, we usually get behind and have to climb our way out,” Rembish said. “I told the girls it is almost like we want the first game to end so we could capitalize on our momentum and that is what we did.”

For the next three sets, Ludlowe would practically maintain a minimal lead throughout, taking the second set 25-20 and the third 25-18.

Ludlowe had a similar outcome in the quarterfinal round against No. 4 Conard, losing the first set before coming back to win in five.

“I think that usually happens with us honestly,” Ludlowe senior Jane Ransome said. “It takes us some time to really warm up and to trust in our system. Once we start doing that, we are unstoppable.”

With a 2-1 lead and the fourth set tied at 22, the Falcons took three points in a row to clinch a bid to the championship.

Ransome had eight kills and 15 assists in the match while Koskinas seven kills and 16 assists. For Ludlowe, the underdog run through the bracket has been anything but surprising.

“We have the biggest hitters in the FCIAC,” Ransome said. “We really do. When we saw this bracket, we cried happy tears.”

Now the Falcons are win from a title, and they are confident they can top the Cardinals on Saturday.

“When we played Greenwich in the regular season we took them to four games,” Rembish said. “When they walked out of the gym, their coach told me ‘We are lucky we walked out of here with a win.’ We are really well matched with Greenwich; we are ready for them. We have a lot of work to do but we know them.”

For SCC champion Cheshire, the season comes to an end earlier than hoped.

“You have to rise to the equation, you need to play big,” Cheshire coach Sue Bavone said. “It is unfortunate because we did have a really great season. Our bread and butter was pressuring teams, and I thought we did that right from the start and then we lost our focus and it is a game of momentum.”; @AldamWill