Volleyball Team’s Unbeaten Ways Finally Derailed By Darien In State Semis
FAIRFIELD — What a run it was for Newtown High School’s boys’ volleyball team. Undefeated in the regular season (for the second campaign in a row), the Nighthawks looked to follow up their second consecutive South-West Conference championship with a state banner. Newtown’s hopes were dashed by Darien in the Class L state tournament semifinals at neutral site Fairfield Warde High on June 4.
Darien, the No. 3 seed in the bracket, avenged a five-set loss to the No. 2 Nighthawks back on March 30 with a 3-1 (21-25, 25-22, 25-12, 25-20) triumph to advance to the championship against No. 4 Staples of Westport two days later.
“We had a great season. These kids, they worked hard all season long for me. Our record shows that,” said Coach Sandy Doski, whose Nighthawks went 19-0 before winning the SWC title game and a state playoff quarterfinal-round match before running into the Darien Blue Wave.
“We worked each game to get to this point,” Doski added.
Newtown, after winning the first set against the Blue Wave, was competitive throughout a tight second game which featured nine ties. Darien took its first lead at 13-12 and did not go ahead again until an ace made it 22-21. The Wave went on a 7-1 run to close out the second set and knot the match at one win apiece.
Game three was all Darien as the Wave established a 20-4 lead. Newtown showed lots of fight and scored eight of the last 13 points, but the Wave seized a 2-1 match lead. A pair of diving efforts by Newtown’s Max Warge kept one play alive, but the Wave earned the point. Everything was going Darien’s way in game three.
In the game four, the teams went back and forth, alternating points until the Wave turned a 6-6 tie into a 9-6 lead. Down 11-7, the Nighthawks called timeout. Darien went ahead 17-12, prompting another NHS timeout. The Nighthawks sliced a six-point deficit in half and pulled to within 22-19 behind kills by Robert DiSibio and Ardi Kodzodziku, along with an errant Darien hit, but couldn’t get any closer.
What was the difference between the first clash and the rematch?
“We were off, and I think both teams improved from that first match, “Doski said. “We started getting tentative, letting balls drop in-between and in the seams. We don’t normally do that — that hurt us.”
Kodzodziku finished with 19 kills and 17 digs. Robbie Morrill had ten kills and nine digs. DiSibio compiled ten kills to go along with four blocks. Eric Moore had 24 assists, six kills, and a dozen digs. Wrage had 15 assists as well as six digs. James Belden tallied ten digs. Danny Schreiber had four kills and three blocks. Belden, Kodzodziku, and Morrill each had six service points.
The Nighthawks defeated visiting East Hartford 3-0 (25-18, 25-21, 25-16) in the Class L state tournament quarterfinals on May 30.
After a first-round bye, they hosted No. 7 East Hartford, which had battled to a five-set win over No. 10 Trumbull the night before.
“I think that was a little bit of an advantage to us,” Doski said of the opposition playing a grueling match less than 24 hours earlier.
Kodzodziku had a baker’s dozen kills, nine digs, six service points, and a pair of aces.
Morrill logged 12 kills and six digs. DiSibio compiled ten kills. Wrage had 25 assists and ten service points, along with three of Newtown’s nine aces. Moore tallied 12 assists and nine service points. Belden had six digs.
Wrage and Moore set up their teammates with nice passing; DiSibio, Kodzodziku, and Morrill came up with timely kills; and Schreiber did a nice job of moving the ball around to open areas on the court, Doski said.
“Our setters put the ball where it needed to be based on (East Hartford’s) blocking and where the hitters needed the ball,” Doski said.
Newtown did a lot of things well throughout the campaign, and the program has made strides each go-around since it started five years ago. Newtown will lose Kodzodziku, Moore, Morrill, DiSibio, and Schreiber to graduation.
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