PLYMOUTH | No matter what Andrean and coach Julie Wiejak tried against Class 3A No. 7 -ranked Fairfield at Saturday’s Plymouth Semistate, it didn’t work.
For the second straight year, Andrean was denied its first semistate title.
Fairfield advanced with a 25-17, 25-20, 25-11 victory over the 59ers in the semifinals.
“I don’t think anything that happened on Fairfield’s side was as concerning as what happened on our side,” Wiejak said. “I have a lot of players who were nervous, anxious. We had some players that we really needed, kind of be on-and-off.”
The Falcons (35-1) found holes in Andrean’s defense. Most every dink found the floor and every nearly every block scored a point. It was that kind of day for the Niners (28-8).
“We played around with how to pass, serve receives, and we tried some substitutions,” junior hitter Marija Nicksic said. “Nothing really woke us up though. We just did not play to our full potential. That’s something that we aren’t going to do to make it back here next year.”
Fairfield’s 6-foot 1-inch middle blocker Haley Brown was a dominant force, collecting 15 kills and nine blocks.
“(Brown) can look really impressive and so can their other middle if you’re out of system and out of whack like we were,” Wiejak said. “We had a plan to take care of it; it’s just there were so many other things malfunctioning out there, that became a non-factor.”
Except for Niners’ brief 6-5 lead in the first set, they played from behind the whole morning. Trailing 23-13 in the first set, five straight points got them within striking distance before the Falcons closed it out.
Andrean fell behind 13-7 in the second set, prompting a timeout. On the strength of blocks by Nicksic and Lexy Wright and kills by Lauren Stazinski and Kellie Wojciecowski, Andrean pulled to within 24-19 before the Falcons pulled away again.
Wiejak said she just reminded her charges to keep trying and not fear the mistakes.
“They were like, ‘Oh wait, I can just go out there and try,’” she said. “If it’s good, it’s good. At least I tried. If it’s bad, it’s bad. At least I took a chance. I think some good things happened.”
Andrean, who will graduate three seniors, kept it close in the third set when a Wojciechowski kill pulled it to within 9-5, but Fairfield was just too strong.
“We just psyched ourselves out -- 'It’s the semistate,’” Nicksic said. “It’s the second year that we’ve been here. We really love our seniors, and they were a great part of it. They made our team, our team, but we really want to be back here next year.”
Wiejak said the loss is a learning experience.
“You hope that it just keeps building,” she said. “We hadn’t won a regional since the 90s, you hope that it keeps coming back, people keep think of coming here a regular thing and we just keep building to try to win one.”