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Wednesday, November 13 High School Sports

No. 1 seed Westhill rolls into FCIAC volleyball semifinals

STAMFORD — For the eight seniors on the Westhill girls volleyball roster, the hours still to be spent in the J. Walter Kennedy Athletic complex are dwindling down and are becoming precious.

The good news for all the Vikings is the postseason has finally arrived. And thus begins Westhill’s chase for FCIAC and Class LL championship banners.

The journey for legacy had a promising first step Tuesday night as top-seeded Westhill swept No. 8 Staples, 25-22, 25-13, 25-21 in the FCIAC quarterfinals.

The crowd was raucous and the Westhill student ‘Purple Pack’ was in full throat as the Vikings improved to 18-3 overall and confirmed their status as FCIAC West Division regular season champs.

“This is what we have all been working for — the postseason,” said Westhill coach Marianna Linnehan. “We’re all excited about the possibilities for the week.”

Westhill’s next exciting possibility for victory arrives Thursday when it meets No. 4 Trumbull in the FCIAC semifinal doubleheader at Ludlowe HS gym. Trumbull earned its spot by downing No. 5 New Canaan Tuesday night.

Trumbull defeated Westhill in last year’s FCIAC Championship final.

Westhill was sharp in victory Tuesday in ousting Staples (12-8, 10-6 FCIAC). The Wreckers will now prepare for the Class LL Tournament where FCIAC teams again fill the bracket.

Game 1 was a tight battle that turned with Westhill ahead 19-18. The serving of Sophia Thagouras keyed a 4-0 surge for 23-18 that became a 25-22 Vikings triumph.

Game 2 was perhaps one of Westhill’s best service games of the season.

Caroline Boyd lived up to her nickname ‘The Weapon’ with six straight service points including four aces as Westhill jumped out to a 10-1 edge.

Staples closed to 12-8 when Westhill’s Sanjana Nayak had five straight service points including two aces for an 18-8 cushion.

Junior Vana Servos served out the final five points for 25-13 and a 2-0 match edge.

“Our serving has been a priority in practice,” Linnehan said. “It was a lot better tonight than it was last week.”

“What we’ve realized is when we serve consistently, we can control the game,” Thagouras said.

In Game 3, Staples battled valiantly and gave some of its senior reserves some FCIAC playoff minutes.

Westhill used an 8-1 surge for a 10-5 cushion. At 15-13, Westhill scored three points for 18-13.

Staples fought back to 19-17, but Nayak served the Vikings to 23-17. A Betsy Sachs kill closed out the triumph at 25-21.

“There were some awesome points (including a 30-hit rally) in Game 3,” said Staples coach Jon Shepro. “Our girls were diving all over. We weren’t outefforted. But Westhill had hitters all over. It served great and its passing was immaculate. As tough as the FCIAC is, our girls qualifying for the playoffs is a fine accomplishment.”

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The Westhill seniors showed there is no place like home. But their focus now turns to Trumbull and playoff glory.

“Our job isn’t done yet,” Linnehan said.

rdepreta@stamfordadvocate.com

WESTHILL 3, STAPLES 0

STAPLES 22 13 21—0

WESTHILL 25 25 25—3

Records: Staples 12-8, 10-6 FCIAC; Westhill 18-3, 15-1 FCIAC.

Highlights: W—Sophia Thagouras 16 assists, 7 kills, 14 service points, 4 aces. Betsy Sachs 11 kills, 9 service points. Sanjana Nayak 6 kills, 13 digs. Maddy Bautista 15 digs.

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