In a year full of dominant performances, the Staples High boys volleyball team orchestrated perhaps its most complete effort yet on Wednesday.
Demonstrating control over all aspects of their game, the top-seeded Wreckers crushed No. 4 Greenwich 3-0 (25-11, 25-16, 25-17) in the FCIAC semifinals at Fairfield Ludlowe.
The Wreckers, who came into the match with 16 straight wins, used runs of 9-0 in the first game and 6-0 in both the second and third games to overwhelm the Cardinals.
"They were firing on all cylinders today," Greenwich coach Pete Georgiou said of his opponent. "They played well. Their passing was excellent, they mixed up their hitters, got everyone involved.
"They were firing, we weren't. That's basically what it comes down to."
Staples (17-1) will make its 12th appearance in the FCIAC final in 13 years when it faces defending champion Ridgefield (18-1) on Friday at Ludlowe at 7 p.m. The second-seeded Tigers, who were swept by the Wreckers on May 13, advanced with a 3-1 defeat of No. 3 Fairfield co-op.
Upset in the semifinals by Darien in 2012 following a perfect regular season, the Wreckers are relieved to be returning to the conference final. The Wreckers won eight straight conference titles from 2003 to 2010.
"It was our goal from the start. We deserve it," said senior setter Harry Hlawitschka, who delivered a match-high 34 assists.
"We were on top of our game today. We had a really complete game," coach Jon Shepro said. "The entire offense was working, we were mixing it up real well."
The Wreckers trailed on just three occasions during the match -- 3-2 and 4-3 in the first game and 7-6 in the third.
Leading by a point early in the first game, Staples used a 13-3 run to go ahead 20-9. After Greenwich responded with a point, the Wreckers went on a 5-1 spurt, closing it out with a kill by Todd Goldstein.
The Wreckers built a 5-1 lead in the second game and never trailed. They led by as many as 10 points (17-7) in the game.
Middle hitter Lucas Grevers, who notched six kills, three digs and two blocks, believes it was one of Staples' top two performances this season.
"Absolutely one of the top," he said.
With Grevers controlling play at the net, Staples again overpowered Greenwich in the third game. The Wreckers used a 6-0 run to go ahead 14-8, then built their largest lead of the match at 21-13.
For the Cardinals, who lost to Staples 3-1 and 3-0 during the regular season, Patrick Hanrahan had a team-high 14 assists. Zak Steiner delivered six kills, while Aidan Rafferty had six digs, four kills and two aces.
"When our passes were there, we did well. We were able to get our middles working," Georgiou said. "But the problem was our passing wasn't there."
Each Staples player wore a patch on his uniform in remembrance of Ali Mirza, a 2011 graduate of Staples who died suddenly last Friday. Mirza, a sophomore at Claremont McKenna College in California, was a member of the Wreckers' volleyball program for four years.
"I knew him very well," Shepro said. "He was a great kid, just a total team player -- friends with everybody."
Hlawitschka said he was "grateful" to win the match for Mirza.
"He had the best attitude, always," Hlawitschka said. "On the court we tried to reflect his attitude. We just did it for him."
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STAPLES 3, GREENWICH 0
GREENWICH 11 16 17 -- 0
STAPLES 25 25 25 -- 3
Records: Greenwich 12-6; Staples 17-1.
Highlights: G -- Patrick Hanrahan had 14 assists and four kills. Aidan Rafferty had six digs, four kills and two aces. Zak Steiner had six kills and two blocks. S -- Ryan Petersen had 11 kills and seven digs. Lucas Carstens had 11 digs and eight kills. Harry Hlawitschka had 34 assists and two aces.