The team that steamrolled its way through the FCIAC for close to two months made a resounding statement when the state's best came calling at the end.
That statement included a championship.
Edged in the first game of Friday's Class L state championship match by top-seeded Glastonbury, No. 3 Staples regrouped and cruised the rest of the way, upending the Tomahawks 3-1 (24-26, 25-17, 25-13, 25-23) at Shelton High School.
The title is the Wreckers' first since 2009 and eighth overall.
"It means everything," said junior middle hitter Lucas Grevers, who notched six kills, five digs and four blocks and was named MVP. "For me it's been three years of hard work, for the seniors, four. We've been in states a couple times ¦ but we were never able to close it. This is such a big thing for us."
Staples, which lost the state final in 2010 and 2011, closed out its latest appearance when it had the chance. The Wreckers jumped ahead 9-4 in the clinching fourth game and never trailed. Although their lead was eventually cut to a point at 23-22 and 24-23, they clinched the win on a service error.
Glastonbury, which entered with just one loss (3-2 to Southington on May 20), stormed out to take the first game. The Tomahawks (19-2), broke an 8-8 tie on a block by outside hitter Matthew Cyr and later opened their largest lead of the match, 22-16.
The Wreckers sliced into the lead with a four-point service run, but the Tomahawks responded, closing the game with consecutive points.
"They just kept a four-point lead until the end. Then we went on our little run, it was just too little, too late," Staples coach Jon Shepro said. "We just needed to stay calm and we would get our chance."
And the Wreckers did.
Staples (21-1), in an unfamiliar spot after recording all but two of its wins by sweep this season, never got flustered. The Wreckers trailed 6-5 in the second game before putting together a 10-6 run. They later went ahead 23-16 -- the largest lead for either side at the time.
"They're two great teams. Glastonbury came out hot and then we got hot," Shepro said. "I think the balls were bouncing their way in the first game, then they were bouncing our way in the second game.
"We just started hustling for so many points."
"Staples is a team that did not make many mistakes," Glastonbury coach Pat Ryan said. "They'll let you give them as many points as you want to. We gave them a lot. ¦ There were so many rallies where they could've served it, and they didn't have to do anything."
"We definitely started to go downhill from the early part of the match," Ryan said. "Staples plays such good defense. I think they (Glastonbury) felt that they had to make shots better than they would normally have to do to score, when they just needed to be consistent."
The Wreckers recorded 62 digs over the four games, with senior libero Patrick Connolly leading the way with 15. Denowitz added 11 and Ryan Petersen had 10. The Wreckers also recorded eight blocks, making points difficult to come by for Glastonbury.
"The defense on some of their hits was just unbelievable," Shepro said. "Johnny had unbelievable plays, Patrick made some great digs -- just great defense I think turned it around."
Tied 3-3 in the third game, Staples grabbed control with a 12-1 spurt. The Wreckers went ahead by as many as 14 points, 24-10, before ending the pivotal game with a kill by Carstens.
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STAPLES 3, GLASTONBURY 1
STAPLES 24 25 25 25 -- 3
GLASTONBURY 26 17 13 23 -- 1
Records: Staples 21-1; Glastonbury 19-2.