Greenwich defeats St. Joseph in FCIAC quarterfinals

The fourth-seeded St. Joseph High girls volleyball team won the first set 25-15 versus fifth-seeded Greenwich High in the FCIAC quarterfinals, before the Cardinals won the next three games (25-15, 25-16, 25-21) to score a 3-1 victory in Trumbull on Tuesday.

Greenwich (14-5) will meet top-seeded Darien (19-0) in the semifinals Thursday at 7 p.m. at Fairfield Ludlowe. Seventh-seeded Trumbull, a 3-2 winner over Stamford, meets third-seeded Ludlowe at 5 p.m. in the first semi.

“We played them last year and it was pretty close,” St. Joseph head coach Jeff Babineau said. “They are talented and very well coached.

“We said that they weren’t going to come in here thinking that we are going to hand it to them. We came out today very well in the first game, but then put it in reverse.

“We went from being really aggressive to passive and that hurt us. They took advantage of all our mistakes and not being forceful on the offensive side.”

“Once we got that first game, things kind of snowballed and they started to go to the tank,” Greenwich head coach Steve Lapham said. “We hit the ball out of bounds a lot and the setting wasn’t there in the first set, but Maggy (Egan) really picked it up and put the ball where our hitters could do something with it.

“Our serve was pushing their pass back and they were giving us some easy balls that we were able to work on.”

For the Cadets, Matie Gritsko led the way with 16 kills and one ace, while Ellie Dudzinski finished with 30 assists and two aces. Lauren Pitney added 12 kills and one ace.

“Our season is certainly not over,” Babineau said. “I really want my girls to be ready for the state tournament. What they can take out of this is that they can’t take the foot off the pedal. They have to be aggressive all the way through. As soon as you back off, the other team is going to come back and that’s a good lesson today.”

Against the Cadets in the FCIAC semis, Greenwich was paced by Abbie Wolf, as she finished with 19 kills and one assist. Nadia Sotgiu added a team-high 11 digs and four kills.

Back on Sept. 9, the Cardinals, a team looking to rebuild after losing the majority of its players from last year’s FCIAC championship team to graduation, opened its season against the Cadets and were blanked 3-0.

“The first game we played with them, we beat them in all the games by only four points,” Babineau said.

“I think both teams have really improved. I think today was all about which way the ball bounced and a couple of balls that were going out, we hit. If you don’t touch those, it’s our point and a momentum swing. Both team are very talented and evenly-matched.

“We grew up quite a bit and it was our first game with a bunch of new players,” Lapham said. “It’s 20 games later and we got some varsity experience under our belt.”