Staples girls volleyball advances in Class LL
It was smooth sailing from start to finish for the 14th-seeded Staples girls volleyball in first-round of Class LL playoffs at home on Monday night in a 3-0 victory over 19th-seeded Manchester (25-9, 25-16, 25-14).
For the Lady Wreckers, who raised their record to 13-7, a balanced attack coupled with unwavering defense spelled success, with Staples vaulting out to early leads of 7-1 and 17-6 over Manchester (8-10) to cement a comfortbale lead in the early stages of action.
Junior Anna Link, who provided a team-best nine service points on the evening, closed out the opening game with five consecutive successful serves to put the finishing touches on a 16-point edge for the quick and convincing one-game lead.
"We started strong and really played well all match long," said Staples head coach Jon Shepro. "We were consistent, our offense had a lot of chances, and we took full advantage of those chances. From the first game on, our serving game was excellent as well, and all those things contributed to the win."
The Lady Indians mustered more of a challenge in the second game, only to see their hard work at the net fall short against a tall and talented Staples front line, one which featured junior Joosje Grevers. For Grevers, who helped cap a 25-16 game two victory with four of her nine kills on the night, it came down to refusing to hand momentum over the visitors.
In total, four tied scores and early leads in the second game came up fruitless for Manchester, who saw Staples go on a late game run to claim the decisive two-game lead.
"Every time they mounted a bit of a run, we didn't let that stop us," said Grevers. "We kept our head's up and we kept the intensity up. It was the last time playing at home for the seniors, so we had fun and played with a lot of energy."
Senior tri-captain Lucy Stanley proved pivotal for the Lady Wreckers, notching 33 assists to spearhead the Staples offense, while senior tri-captain Alex Masiello left her fingerprints all over the win with12 kills, 10 aces, and seven digs.
Masiello dominated in the final frame, a 25-14 victory, as the standout senior was virtually everywhere on the court. A trio of timely Masiello kills pushed the lead to 22-13, before teammate Augustine Gradoux-Matt smashed a successful service point to cap the convincing Wreckers win.
"From our passing, to our setting, to our hitting, we really played with balance tonight," said Masiello. "At times this season, we would struggle with one of those areas, but we put everything together to get this win. Now we just have to continue to work hard and keep this type of play going."
With the opening-round triumph, Staples advances to the second round of the tournament at third-seeded Glastonbury tomorrow at 7 p.m..With Glastonbury owning a tremendous 17-1 regular season record, it may seem like a steep task to tackle, but the Wreckers appear to be up for the challenge.
"Glastonbury is a strong team, but we're playing really good volleyball," said Shepro. "If we can play balanced and consistent against them like we did tonight, we'll be ready to shock the world."