On a sun-soaked afternoon that was perfectly suited for a beach volleyball match, the Staples and Darien boys volleyball teams stayed indoors for their much-anticipated FCIAC battle Friday on the Blue Wave's home court. Unfortunately, for the Wreckers, the picture-perfect day turned dark as they lost, 3-1.

"We made a lot of mistakes, " said Staples coach John Shepro. "Darien played fantastic, give them credit. But it just wasn't our day today."

Staples had owned every day and every match against Darien. They had never lost to the Blue Wave. Ever. It appeared they'd keep the streak going last Friday as they came out sharp, winning the first game, 25-19.

"We were really together in the first game, our blocks were strong," said Andrens Bub of Staples, who had seven kills. "Unfortunately, we kind of fell apart."

Staples came undone thanks to the inspired play of Darien's Calder Billhardt and Austin Cockerill. The senior stars, who had gone their entire careers without beating the Wreckers, were sensational. They combined for 10 kills to lead.

the Blue Wave to a 25-17 win, thus evening the match at 1-1.

"They're two great players, absolutely," said Shepro. "They find the holes, through the blocks, around the blocks. They were tough to stop."

There was no stopping Darien after that. Playing before a raucous and rowdy home crowd, the Blue Wave fed off the energy and won the third game 25-22, despite the strong play of Jonah Aelyon, who had four of his 12 kills in the game. Darien notched the game on a beautiful no-look, behind-the-head drop shot by Matt Lee, which the Blue Wave used to turn the tide.

"We kind of let the momentum work against," said Daniel Fishman of Staples. "We just made a lot of errors that we couldn't recover from."

The Wreckers couldn't bounce back from that back-breaking shot by Lee. They fell behind Darien 21-12 in the final game, and despite a small rally, they dropped it 25-20, and ultimately the match.

"It feels kind of bad right now," said the senior Bub. "But if you look at the big picture, that's their first victory against us, ever. We still have a stranglehold on the rivalry."

With the loss, Staples dropped to 11-2, while Darien improved to 12-1. There's more than a good chance of these teams meeting again in the FCIAC final.