EAST HAVEN — No. 3 Southington’s run in the state volleyball tournament came to an end Saturday night as No. 1 Darien defended its Class LL state championship at East Haven High School.
Game scores were 25-18, 25-18 and 25-15 as the Blue Wave (25-0) increased their winning streak to 50 games spanning two perfect seasons.
Southington’s season ended at 24-2, along with its 24-game winning streak.
Darien setter and Boston College commit Aubrey Moore orchestrated a nearly perfect night for Blue Wave attackers, dealing to her twin sister, University of Kansas commit Ellie Moore (14 kills), as well as to Marin Black (10 kills) and Katelyn Erdlen (6 kills).
Aubrey Moore finished with 32 assists and was named the Class LL Most Outstanding Player.
Cami Wessels led Southington with 11 kills. Natalee Grindle had eight.
“It was an amazing year,” Wessels said. “There was nothing better than being here with this team. Darien is a great team and I commend them for all they’ve done, but I can’t be happier to go as far as we did.”
Like they have been all season, the Blue Wave were dominant from beginning to end.
In Game 1, Darien used a 10-2 run midway through to win by seven points. Aubrey Moore had 10 assists in the opening set, setting up Black for four kills and Ellie Moore for three.
Grindle had five kills and Wessels had three set up by Megan Smith.
The first set started with the squads going back and forth. Then Ellie Moore served four straight points to put the Wave up 10-6.
The spurt spawned a decisive 10-2 run that put the Wave up 16-8 as the kills started to pile up for Black.
“Sometimes it’s matchups and you have a 5-8 kid going up aganist a 6-2 kid; you are going to have rotations a little tougher than others,” Southington coach Rich Heitz said. “One kid is going to Boston College and the other is going to Kansas for a reason. They are great players and I’m happy with how we competed.”
Wessels began to find her groove with three kills in a 5-1 run as the Knights clawed within 18-14 and forced Darien to use its first timeout of the set.
Ellie Moore put down a couple of late kills to seal the set for Darien.
In Game 2, Ellie Moore, Black and Brooke Leone all had multiple kills as runs of 6-1 and 9-2 built an 18-8 lead for the Blue Wave, who were seemingly in system all night.
The squads were tight midway though Game 3, with Darien holding a 15-13 advantage. Out of a timeout, the Blue Wave scored four straight points with kills by the Moores and a block from Erdlen.
The run expanded to 8-0 as Darien went up 23-13. Erdlen sealed the title with a kill.
“You want to finish the season ending against the best,” Heitz said. “Class LL is a beast and the top of it is often Darien.
“This has been a phenomenal group of kids to work with every day in practice, and that’s the tougher thing than anything — it’s over,” Heitz added. “Hopefully, we created a lot of special memories for the kids this season and that’s what it’s all about.”
Darien coach Laurie LaRusso said she was nothing but happy after the game.
“I’m so happy for the captains and my seniors,” LaRusso said. “We never talked about the winning streak or anything in the past. We were always focused on the next game.”