Staples spikers push Greenwich's FCIAC chances closer to the brink
Published 11:40 pm, Friday, May 13, 2011
By Chris Falvo
With the number of games remaining in the regular season dwindling and a log jam between three teams for the final spot in the FCIAC playoffs, the Greenwich High boys volleyball team has little room for error.
Greenwich, which controls its own destiny, slipped closer to the pack after being swept 3-0 by Staples at home on Friday.
Now, the Cardinals (8-4, 8-4 FCIAC) must win their next two games -- at Ridgefield on Monday and at Bridgeport Central on Wednesday -- to lock up the fourth and final seed and keep Central and Danbury at bay.
Ridgefield, at 12-3 in the FCIAC, has cemented itself as the three seed behind Staples and Darien, which have one loss apiece in the league -- splitting their two matches.
"The FCIAC is really up this year. Lots of good teams, lots of good competition," Staples head coach John Shepro said.
A win Monday at Ridgefield should keep the Cardinals neck-and-neck with Central, which was 7-4 entering Friday's match with 0-11 Trumbull. The Hilltoppers have another meeting with a sub-.500 team, Bassick, before its showdown with the Cardinals that will most likely decide the final spot in the FCIAC playoffs.
However, the scenario gets tricky if the Cardinals split their final two games -- losing to Ridgefield and beating Central. That scenario would drop both teams into a possible three-way tie with Danbury (8-5), which has two very winnable games remaining -- home against Bassick and at Harding.
Greenwich head coach Peter Georgiou was uncertain of the tiebreaker the league would use in that case.
All the confusion may have been avoided had the Cardinals been able to adjust their defense to the Staples attack and upset the Wreckers. Greenwich scrambled to keep up with Staples' quick sets to its middle hitters, leaving the Cardinals vulnerable to drop shots and taps. The Cardinals compounded matters in the first two games with unforced errors as the Wreckers grabbed a 2-0 match lead with successive 25-13, 24-14 wins.
"The first two games we just didn't make the proper adjustments," Georgiou said.
"It took us two games to really make an adjustment."
The quick sets from Wreckers' captain Daniel Fishman to his middle hitters opened the outside for Jonah Aelyon who assaulted the Cardinals with a match-high 13 kills.
"Our offense has to evolve around that. In order to get Jonah and Drew (Appleman) open on the outside, you have to establish the middle," Shepro said.
The Cardinals found their groove in the third game, opening their largest lead of the match when they jumped out to an 11-7 advantage. Staples used a 4-0 run, spurred on by an A.J. Green kill, to creep back into the match, tying it at 11.
The two sides battled to an 18-18 tie, before the Wreckers caught Greenwich in a vulnerable rotation and reeled off seven straight points. Green capped off the sweep with a block of a Greenwich spike to take the third game 25-18.
"We made our adjustment that we needed to and we just got caught up in a bad rotation," Georgiou said.
The Cardinals' attack was led by Greg Conarroe who recorded six kills. Middle hitter Matt Weber notched five kills for Greenwich, but played sparingly in the first two games because Staples' success stalled the Cardinal rotation.
Greenwich setter Sam Dealy dished out 16 assists, but may have had more if the Cardinal hitters forced the issue with more spikes instead of trying to sneak taps over the Staples' blockers.
"We weren't aggressive with our hits. We were giving a lot of free balls," Georgiou said.
Staples (13-2, 12-1) has a pair of games remaining before the postseason starts, plenty of time for the Wreckers to hone their game for another run at the FCIAC title.
"I think we'll be ready when we get there," said Fishman, who had 30 assists.
"We still have work to do, but I know everyone will work hard at practice to get us where we need to be."