Photo: David Fierro / Hearst Connecticut Media / Contributed Photo
GREENWICH — Greenwich and St. Joseph didn’t exactly have time to ease into their respective volleyball seasons Friday, as the schedule had them facing each other in a rematch of last fall’s FCIAC Tournament final.
And like last season, it was the Cardinals that found a way to win each set.
Picking up where it left off last season when it won both the FCIAC and Class LL titles, Greenwich registered a 3-0 victory over visiting St. Joseph in the season-opening match for both squads.
Junior Gia Alfano recorded a team-high 10 kills, while sophomore Lily Saleeby added nine kills to help pace the Cardinals, who won the match by set scores of 25-19, 26-24, 25-22.
“It was a really good team win for us,” said GHS coach Steve Lapham, who earned his 390th career win on Friday. “Serve-receive kept us in system and even when we were out of system, we were making smart decisions with the ball. We kept pressure on them and that’s why we squeaked out a few games.”
Sophomore Jenna Koonitsky had eight kills, while senior Maddie Johnson contributed five kills for St. Joseph (0-1).
“We were down in the first game by eight points and we fought back, but we just couldn’t get separation,” Cadets coach Jeff Babineau said. “I’m happy with the way the came back and played together toward the end.”
The Cardinals and Cadets each have a championship pedigree, with GHS winning the Class LL title a year ago and St. Joseph claiming the Class M championship. The first game was tight, as St. Joe battled back from eight points down to forge a 19-19 tie.
Yet the home team won the final six points, behind the strong serving of Saleeby, who totaled five aces. A block by Alfano and ace from Saleeby put Greenwich ahead, 23-19 in the first set. Alfano’s kill sealed the set.
“Our passes were really nice and Amelia (Bartlett) did a great job of setting,” Alfano said. “Our serving will get better throughout the season. This win against a great team is a good sign for us.”
St. Joseph came back from a deficit again in the second set to tie it up at 24-24. Senior Elena Ball and Johnson paced the visitors during the set. A kill by Saleeby capped the second game, giving Greenwich a 2-0 lead.
In the third game, the Cadets held a 17-14 edge, before GHS rallied.
“We were all working together and everyone was contributing,” said senior Erin O’Keefe, who tallied seven kills. “We have experienced players from last year and other players are gaining experience.”
O’Keefe will have an expanded role from last season.
“I was a proud member of the bench last year,” O’Keefe said. “Being able to play the whole set was exciting. I was nervous at first, but I settled down.”being able to play whole set exciting a out it once it started I settled down.”
Bartlett, making her debut at setter, notched 28 assists in the win.
“I went in a little bit nervous, but being the setter is was fun,” Bartlett said. “I think the main thing was our passing was really good today, that was our strongest asset and everyone had a positive attitude.”
Senior libero/captain Carolina Lew also aided Greenwich’s cause with strong defensive play. The Cadets stayed with a few points of Greenwich in the final game.
“We are still trying to figure out certain positions,” Babineau said. “By the middle of the season we will be good. I’m pleased with a lot of things I saw today.”
GREENWICH 3, ST. JOSEPH 0
ST. JOSEPH 19 24 22
GREENWICH 25 26 25