For three years they chased another state title, only to see their hopes vanish near the finish line.
Two undefeated seasons and a combined 50-3 record made for compelling theatre, but little else in the end. They sprinkled in an FCIAC title in 2010 -- their eighth straight and 10th overall at the time -- but again, a little less than a month later, they fell short of the state's greatest prize.
But finally, on Friday, after three failed tries, Staples High's boys volleyball team catapulted itself back to the top. The Wreckers, a 3-1 (24-26, 25-17, 25-13, 25-23) winner over No. 1 Glastonbury in the Class L final, claimed their first state title since 2009.
"To get over one more hump is real big," coach Jon Shepro said. "It's just great for the team. It's a nice way to cap off a great season."
With 21 straight wins and a conference championship included, "great" might be an understatement when describing Staples' season. The Wreckers were barely tested along their run, sweeping all but three matches.
The Wreckers have had plenty of success during the regular season before. In 2012, they went 18-0 and earned the state's No. 2 seed. But this time around, they actually finished off their run.
"We've been in states a couple times, but we were never able to close it," junior middle hitter Lucas Grevers said. "This was such a big thing for us."
Keyed by Grevers' six digs, five kills and four blocks -- a performance that earned him MVP -- Staples stormed back from a 26-24 loss in the opening game against Southington to take the final three handily: 25-17, 25-13, 25-23.
The Wreckers, just as they did all season, overwhelmed their opponent at the net with both power and precision.
"Our defense had to hold back their hard hits, and then the tips started dropping on us," Glastonbury coach Pat Ryan. "I think as a group, it started to cascade into a series of things where one thing wasn't working, which meant somebody else had to try do something else."
After a tense first game in which Glastonbury led by as many as six points, 22-16, before closing it out, Staples loosened up. The Wreckers, in turn, trailed just twice the rest of the way.
"We play best when we have fun. That's what we did," Grevers said. "Everyone did their job. The passing was fantastic."
Afterward, they were able to savor and reflect.
"It's fantastic. I'm so happy for the Staples guys," Shepro said. "They worked so hard. They worked every offseason, they go to summer camps ... they work so hard during the regular season, they had a great week of practice. When you work that hard, you really want to top it."
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