New Canaan blanks defending FCIAC champion Trumbull
NEW CANAAN — The good vibes were already in play for the New Canaan volleyball team, but the Rams’ latest victory takes their season to another level.
The Rams delivered a near-perfect performance and dominated defending FCIAC champion Trumbull, 3-0, Thursday at NCHS. New Canaan withstood a comeback bid by the Eagles in the first set and went on to win by scores of 26-24, 25-20, and 25-19.
It was New Canaan’s first win over Trumbull since 2011, as the Rams (7-1) continued to break new ground.
“Each one of them did their job,” New Canaan coach Kevin Marino said. “It’s just next man up for us. They all believe now that they can do things like this. That’s a great team over there, the defending FCIAC champs, but we had a game plan, they executed it and it worked.”
“We’ve definitely picked it up,” New Canaan senior co-captain Ally Leopold said. “The intensity is so much greater than last year and we’ve been so ready for this season. We’re getting into the bulk of our tough FCIAC opponents and we’re excited to start play playing really good teams and have really good matches.”
For Trumbull, it was a frustrating loss and comes during a difficult two-day stretch for the Eagles (4-2), who will host Westhill in a rematch of the FCIAC final on Friday.
“New Canaan came out and brought it,” Trumbull coach Nicole Trommelen said. “They played really well, they forced us to meet them and we didn’t meet them. We got ourselves in a hole and we spent a lot of the day fighting out of that hole. Every time we got to the top, we made some play that knocked us down and we weren’t able to recover.”
The Rams had plenty of stars, with Leopold picking up five kills and six blocks, Alex Gillespie delivering a team-high 12 kills and seven digs; and Libero Annie Gravereaux leading the defense with 15 digs. Sophomore setter Elle Sneddon had 26 assists.
For Trumbull, Bailey Cenatiempo led with 12 kills and 15 digs; setter Ali Castro had 28 assists and 10 digs; and Ashleigh Johnson had 11 digs
New Canaan’s defense was outstanding, as the Rams kept the ball up in seemingly impossible situations. Late in the third set, Stella Turner, Lillie Gray and Alyssa Lee made successive great saves to keep the ball alive and the Rams eventually won the point.
“Our defense is our first step to being an amazing offensive team,” Leopold said. “Our back row is three of our strongest players and they really know how to get the ball up so we can put it away on the front row.”
“We preach nothing hits the floor, and they’ve taken it to heart,” Marino said. “Every day in practice it’s the same way — everything’s competitive. We don’t want to give any point away and they fight for it.”
The turning point came early in the match, after Trumbull had rallied to tie the score at 24-24 in the first set. But a double-lift and then an ace which landed on the back line from Gravereaux ended the set in the Rams’ favor, 26-24,
Trumbull again rallied from a deficit in the second set to tie the score at 18-18, but New Canaan then won four straight to regain the lead for good.
The Rams then rolled out to a 9-1 lead in the third set and Trumbull was unable to get closer than four points the rest of the way.
The Eagles will need to regroup quickly with Westhill on deck.
“We had two opportunities this week with New Canaan today and Westhill tomorrow,” Trommelan said. “We let one slip away but that doesn’t mean we have to let both slip away. I know the girls are fully aware that it wasn’t their best game, but we’re making sure they don’t get down on themselves and we come back and fight back tomorrow.”
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Alex Gillespie, New Canaan. There were plenty of hot hands for the Rams, but Gillespie racked up a team-high 12 kills and was a key part of the defense with 7 digs.
“Our message every day is believe you are as good as you are. We’ve been telling them work today and win tomorrow. They’ve put their heads down, worked really hard and we believe the results can come, even against great teams like Trumbull.” — New Canaan coach Kevin Marino
NEW CANAAN 3, TRUMBULL 0
TRUMBULL 24 20 19 — 0
NEW CANAAN 26 25 25 — 3
Trumbull: Bailey Cenatiempo 12 kills, 15 digs, 1 block; Ali Castro 28 assists, 10 digs; Ashleigh Johnson 11 digs; New Canaan: Alex Gillespie 12 kills, 7 digs; Ally Leopold 5 kills, 6 blocks; Annie Gravereaux 15 digs; Elle Sneddon 26 assists.
Records: Trumbull (4-2), New Canaan (7-1)