Eagles turn back Mustangs

When Tamara DeBerry took over as head coach of the Trumbull girls volleyball team six years ago, she did so with the idea of transforming the program into a state-championship contender.

Trumbull hasn’t reached that lofty status just yet. But if the Eagles continue to battle the way they did against Fairfield Warde in a match with major FCIAC playoff implications for both teams, the golden future DeBerry envisioned might not be too far away.

The Eagles received a solid game at the net from junior hitters Mia Hampford and Sophia Picarazzi and another outstanding effort by junior setter Sydney Adams, battling its way to a 3-1 victory at the Fairfield Warde gym on Oct. 15.

Not much separated Trumbull (9-5) and Warde (9-6) going into the game, either in the standings or in talent on the court. The match was proof of that, a see-saw battle of wills that saw three of four games go into extra points. But when it came down to crunch time, the Eagles were the better side, pulling out the victory by scores of 26-24, 26-28, 25-15 and 28-25.

Warde had two chances to prolong the match, but the Eagles fought off two set points in the fourth, scoring three straight to end it.

“I would love to say we out-hit them or out-passed them, but they were loud, we were loud,” DeBerry said. “But at the key moments, we just made the plays.”

Hampford, a middle hitter, collected a game-high 14 kills to go along with four blocks and 15 service points.

Picarazzi had seven kills and two blocks.

Adams led all players with 26 assists to pace Trumbull, which had to overcome a little adversity to win.

Both teams were playing their second match in two days, but the Eagles were doing it without starters Megan Wright and Liv Borsky.

Wright suffered a concussion during Trumbull’s 3-0 win against Harding on Tuesday while Borsky was out due to illness.

Trumbull still had enough to beat Warde behind the play of sophomore Lea Thompson (three kills), junior Alyssa Breunig (six kills, two blocks), senior Haley Giblin (12 service points) and the defense of libero Kristen Peterson.

With favorable matchups against Westhill and McMahon among its final four games, Trumbull is in great position to clinch one of the FCIAC’s eight playoff spots.

“We’re confident, but we don’t want to just settle for seventh or eighth,” DeBerry said. “We want to win out so we can get into a position where we can get past the first round.”

Trumbull’s schedule was at its toughest early in the season and with a young team trying to overcome the loss of seven seniors from the year before, the results were not always pretty.

But the Eagles also benefited from the tough competition, forcing Trumbull to grow up in a hurry.

“It did a lot for their self-esteem and it did a lot for their confidence,” DeBerry said. “I think it really helped us.”

Now, what started as a rebuilding season has the potential for so much more.

“I’m happy,” DeBerry said. “I knew it was going to be a building year.

“But this is promising. I’m not going anywhere, and I’m happy to have these girls. They’re all great.”

The first two games were proof of how close the two teams were. Trumbull had leads of 13-8 and 20-13 in the first game, but Warde won 10 of the next 12 to take a 23-22 lead.

The Eagles regained the momentum on a block by Picarazzi, pulling out a 26-24 win with four of the final five points.

Trumbull had two set points in the second game, but Warde fought both off at 24-22 and 26-25, winning it on a kill by senior Hannah Wolf from the center of the court.

Trumbull came back with a 25-15 win in the third set, clinching it on a tap kill by Breunig, then built leads of 12-4 and 17-8 in the fourth. Warde came back again, scoring six straight to make it 18-14 and five straight to tie it at 20.

“It was a battle,” DeBerry said. “Fairfield Warde is always one of those teams we battle against. It doesn’t matter who we have as players. They always show up to play us.”

Warde had a 24-22 lead, but DeBerry called a smart timeout to make the Mustangs think about it. Warde faulted on the ensuing serve and Trumbull won the next two points.

The Mustangs had another chance to end it leading 25-24, but Trumbull came back again, getting an ace from Hampford to make it 26-25.

Warde middle hitter Nicole Vacarella, who led the Mustangs with 13 kills and five blocks, knocked the final serve into the net to end it for the Eagles.

Trumbull closes out its regular season on Friday. The Eagles travel to Norwalk to face Brien McMahon at 5:30 p.m.