In an intensely emotional FCIAC semifinal playoff match, the second-seeded Staples boys volleyball team powered its way to a 3-1 (25-27, 25-22, 25-20, 25-22) win over Ridgefield at Fairfield Ludlowe Wednesday and will face top-seeded Darien today at 7 p.m. at Ludlowe.

"This was a big win for us. We played very confidently, fought back for everything, and had to pull it out at the end of every game. We remembered who we were out there," said Wreckers Coach Jon Shepro.

Throughout the match, the score remained very tight, as both teams had many great saves and passes. In all four games, the teams stayed within five point of each other and slight scoring advantages went back and fourth between them.

In the first game, both teams fought very hard, with many big hits and blocks from both sides. However, Staples made a few technical, rotational errors that cost it a few very important points, and Ridgefield was able to win it.

After this setback, the Wreckers did not let Ridgefield gain momentum, and consciously "picked it up," as senior AJ Green said.

The second game initially started off in Staples' favor, with two very big blocks. After that, the Tigers took slight scoring advantages several times in the game that Staples was able to re-tie. When it was 19-17 Ridgefield, Junior Jonah Aelyon made a defeaning kill to the back angle of the court, and seniors Andreas Bub, Steven Denowitz and Danny Fishman made great kills that the Tigers couldn't handle. After Ridgefield hit several balls long, Staples was tied it 22-22 and took the lead on Aelyon's kill. The Wreckers then wrapped up the game.

The third game was the most emotional and exciting game, as well as important in deciding who would take control of the match. Bub started off this game with a powerful slam in the middle of the court, giving Staples momentum and confidence early on. Throughout the game, both teams were very determined and made many great saves and thus long, exciting rallies ensued. The Wreckers led 3-0 to start but soon the score was tied, 7-7.

Denowitz made many great saves and slams. Many team members, including seniors Ryan Winter, Fishman and Green made perfect sets, giving seniors Drew Appleman, Bub and Denowitz great leverage over the net so that they could slam balls to the corners. Staples gained small leads throughout the rest of the game, at 13-10, 17-15, and then, right near the end, 22-18. The biggest rally of the game occurred at this score, in which both teams made incredible saves; Bub finally finished it off, ushering a giant cheer from the crowd. Although Ridgefield attempted to tie the game with many great saves, Aeylon hit many finishing shots and helped Staples wrap up the game.

After taking a 2-1 lead in the match, Staples was very confident. The fourth game was again tight like the other games, but not as exciting as the third game. Staples took small leads in this game, and finally finished off this game at 25-22.

Staples is enthused about their win, and attributes their success to the overall determination and fervor of the entire team.

"Everybody stepped it up. We knew that we had gotten a little sluggish at the end of the regular season. We were able to take a few days rest after the loss to Ridgefield on Wednesday, and everybody came back revamped and ready to go," said Green.

Both Green and Bub also felt that the passing and setting of their teammates was vital to their win.

"I attribute my success tonight to the great passes our back row gave to Danny, our setter, which allowed me to attack the ball really well. I also think that all of our hitters played amazing today and that really helped open up the net for us because their blockers didn't know how to block," Bub said.

Specifically, Shepro complimented Denowitz, who had 11 kills in 17 attempts, and who "killed a ball every chance he had," and Bub, who had 17 kills "right in the middle of the floor."

Since Staples split with Darien in the regular season, it knows that they must come into the final ready to play its best.

"We go about going into the finals by trying to ride the emotion of the game. We need to shut Darien's hitters, Caider and Austin, and we need to use me and AJ in the middle because they don't have a strong middle," Bub said.