Improving East Lyme volleyball team gets best of rival Fitch
East Lyme — Losing senior middle blocker Arielle Vaglio to illness on the same day they were set to meet Fitch and 6-foot middle hitter Nora Ryan didn't exactly inspire confidence among the members of the East Lyme High School volleyball team to start things off Monday.
"We were all going into this game, like, 'Oh, my gosh,'" East Lyme senior Mya Delesdernier said.
"We had some young players come in and play middle hitter against senior Nora Ryan. They all kind of contributed."
East Lyme fell behind by five points early before winning the first game 30-28. The Vikings followed with two considerably easier victories, 25-15 and 25-20, leading 11-0 to start the third game, to sweep the Falcons in a matchup between traditional Eastern Connecticut Conference Division I rivals.
Delesdernier had 20 kills, Ellie Meredith 27 assists and Sophie Dubreuil eight kills and four aces for East Lyme (3-4, 2-1), which mainly kept the ball on the outside and away from Ryan. But sophomore middles Ella Freed and Shannon Pierce filled in nicely for Vaglio, getting their timing down in order to defend the dangerous Ryan.
"I definitely got in a groove," said Delesdernier, who, in particular, owned the outside. "Everyone was hyping me up. I was smiling tonight; I usually don't."
"She played like a true leader, a senior leader," East Lyme coach Jack Biggs said of Delesdernier. "She played relaxed. She made plays under pressure."
East Lyme trailed 11-6 in the first set, which both coaches described as rather lethargic. But the tension heightened when East Lyme tied it for the first time at 15-15 on a point by Delesdernier and went back and forth all the way to 28-28 when Delesdernier tipped one gently over the net away from the Fitch defense.
Meredith served the final two points for the Vikings.
East Lyme then led 5-0 to start the second set and 11-0 in the third behind the serving of Dubreuil.
Biggs said earlier in the season his team wasn't as prepared to win the close games. The Vikings lost games 25-23 and 28-26 in a five-set loss to Lyman Memorial. But recently, the close ones started to go their way, with a 30-28, 29-27, 25-18 win over Norwich Free Academy on Friday.
The Vikings also started their season 1-4 with losses to powers Guilford (3-1), Class S state champion Lyman (3-2), Class S runner-up Coventry (3-0) and Class L runner-up and defending ECC champion Woodstock Academy (3-0).
"(Biggs) also makes us a really, really good schedule," Delesdernier said. "It always helps us in the end. ... We've been working on grinding those last two points. We definitely felt a lot more confident after the first set."
Ryan had 11 kills and eight digs for Fitch (5-2, 1-2). Karly Morales had 24 assists and libero Marlo Sim had 10 digs.
Fitch coach Steve Banks credited East Lyme for its strong attack, saying his team has been up and down this season.
"We didn't have the right fight," Banks said. "They took it to us. We weren't in sync. In the first game, we were both kind of in slow motion. But after that, they attacked and we didn't. We've been up and down trying to find our fight. It's a bunch of nice girls, but we've got to find a little nasty in there.
"East Lyme deserved to win."
Stories that may interest you
Five high school coaching legends will be honored next spring as recipients of the Gold Key Award from the Connecticut Sports Writers' Alliance.
Half of the top 10 teams in The Day's state football coaches' poll were on a bye weekend, resulting in minor changes after Week 5.