Staples sweeps Southington
Updated 7:36 pm, Thursday, April 19, 2012
The stakes were higher in previous matches, but that didn't subtract from the Staples boys volleyball team's 3-0 (25-15, 25-23, 25-22) home win over Southington Wednesday.
The teams met in four straight Class L finals from 2007-10. and both were undefeated going into Wednesday's match.
Staples won the first three titles but Southington ended the Wreckers' 101-match winning streak in the 2010 championship.
With the rivalry, the gym had a huge crowd for a regular-season game, creating a playoff-like atmosphere.
"Southington is a great team, and we have a great rivalry with them," Wreckers coach Jon Shepro said. "It's great to play them during the regular season. They are able to hit the ball, but we were able to get them out of their offense and we hit well."
This is the second straight year the team's faced each other in the regular season. Staples won 3-0 in Southington last year and defeated the Blue Knights in the Class L semifinals.
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"It's a great win, but we got our revenge last year in the regular season and state semis," Wreckers senior captain Jonah Aelyon said. "We still have a rough spot for them because they broke our 101-match winning streak, and we did what we had to do tonight."
With the win, Staples raised its record to 7-0. Southington dropped to 5-1.
Although the match was a sweep, it was close with 15 points separating the squads, and the second and third games could have gone either way.
The Wreckers won the first game comfortably courtesy of senior captain Andrew Fishman. Fishman (11 service points, one ace) served nine straight points to give Staples a 12-2 lead. He had a deep ace near the endline for one of his points.
"I was able to go on the run because our guys at the net played well," Fishman said. "I tried to look for the seams and find the weak passers."
In the second game, there were 11 ties and four lead changes. There were 10 ties and two lead changes and in the third game.
The Blue Knights showed why they are a perennial Class L contender in the last two games -- especially the middle one.
Southington took a 9-5 lead in Game 2 after junior Kevin Casserino delivered four straight service points. Their lead peaked at five, 11-6 and 12-7.
However, Staples wasn't ready to concede the game and clawed its way back. Senior David Kalb (seven kills, two clawed its way back.
Senior David Kalb (seven kills, two digs, two service points) hit well all night and tied it 17-17 with a kill from the setter Fishman (32 assists).
Kalb's kill came on junior Patrick Connolly's (five service points, two aces) serves. Connolly served three straight points, the last one a deep ace which gave the Wreckers an 18-17 lead.
Southington wasn't done and tied it on senior Danny Carbone's kill. Carbone gave the Blue Knights a 20-19 lead with a kill, but they couldn't go on a run.
Connolly (15 digs) made some big defensive plays to rob Southington's hitters. Kalb got a ball over the net from the back row to save another point.
"I'm always in the same spot in practice, and Shepro has drills we're we work on our passing," Kalb said. "It came from being in the right spot and good coaching."
The Wreckers also got a lift at the net from 6-6 sophomore middle hitter Lucas Grevers. Grevers (five kills, four blocks) had big kills and blocks.
"The defense was unbelievable tonight," Shepro said. "For a young kid like Luke to do what he did was unbelievable. Luke has a natural ability of not getting fooled."
Aelyon (13 kills, five digs) and Fishman also sparked the comeback with the former drilling timely kills off the latter's sets.
"We've been playing all year on a club team together and developed good chemistry," Aelyon said. "I tell Fish, `I want the ball,' and he's able to set me up. He's did a great job today and having a good season."
Fishman said, "We've been playing together for three years, and I'm able to key on his tendencies. He's such a great player, and I'm confident I can set it where he wants it."
Aelyon (seven service points) served the final point of the game and served three straight points in the third game to give the Wreckers an 18-14 lead. From that point, Staples controlled the rest of the match.
Staples feels confident after grabbing its third win against a strong opponent. The Wreckers beat Darien and Ridgefield last week and could face Southington somewhere in the Class L playoffs.
"We're on a roll, and we're happy about it," Lovell said. "We know we have to keep it up because we'll be facing them [Darien and Ridgefield for sure, and possibly Southington], again."
The Wreckers raised their record to 8-0 Thursday with a 3-0 home victory over St. Joseph.