eschickler@bcnnew.com

Call it the week of rematches and redemption for the Staples girls volleyball team. By avenging a 3-0 regular season road loss to Greenwich, Staples will have a chance to garner payback against Fairfield Ludlowe tomorrow at 7:30 p.m. in the Class LL semifinals at Fairfield Warde for a regular season home loss on Oct. 9.

The seventh-seeded Lady Wreckers believe they can avenge the loss to second-seeded Ludlowe but they know it won't be easy.

"I think we'll have a better game against them than we had in the regular season," said Staples coach Bruce Betts. "We changed our rotation and they haven't seen it yet. We beat Greenwich because we changed our rotation around. We played great defense, passed well and limited our unforced errors against Greenwich and we have to do the same against Ludlowe."

The Falcon hitters, senior captain Marissa Mullen and classmate Amy Bethje in the middle and juniors Ashley Curtis and Maddie McCaffery were tough for the Lady Wrecker defense Oct. 9. Senior captain Brandi Segala is Ludlowe's high caliber setter and had 31 assists against Staples.

"They swing hard and are good and smart hitters," said Falcons coach Meghan Skelton. "If they maintain their smarts and cool, they will do well."

Lady Wrecker senior captain Eleni Tsilfides will try to dig up many Ludlowe balls in the back row while the tall front row players of senior captains Jenny Johnston and Taylor Ross, classmates Maddie Kalb, Zana Hrvacic and Jen Frusciante and junior Alex Masiello will be relied upon to block Mullen and company.

"We didn't move our feet the first time around and we have do that and have better communication," said Tsilfides. "We have to be scrappy and not let any balls hit the ground. We have to work hard for every point and set our blocks up. All our tall girls can block and we have to make sure we're in the right spot. We have to be low and move our feet."

Ross said, "We have to focus on timing and staying with them. I feel we can block because we played with them before. If we focus on our defense, we can get good blocks on them."

Johnston said, "We really focused on our hitters in practice. We're really going to try and read their hitters and predict where their offense is going to go. If we stay focused, we'll match up with them very nicely."

Offensively, Hrvacic and Suvi Puripattarapan have effectively set up Staples' offense. They give Kalb, Johnston, senior Paulina Tziolis, Masiello and Fruscinate chances to hit and when Puripattarapan sets, Hrvacic provides punch as a hitter.

"We need to keep hitting and our setter have to keep them guessing, which we didn't do the last time," said Johnston.

Falcon senior captain libero Ali Krikau thwarted the Lady Wreckers on Oct. 9 to the tune of 23 digs, grabbing some balls that looked impossible. Junior Heather Wamser is another top Ludlowe defender.

"If we get our serves in and hit away from libero, it will be great for us," said Betts.

If Staples tried to avoid Krikau, other Falcons could step and make the plays.

"We have a very good defensive team and it's not just Ali," said Skelton. "If they try to avoid her, we have other defensive players [who can make the plays]."

Although Staples avenged a loss five days ago, doing it a second time won't be easy because the Falcons are also on a mission.

"It's going to be much more competitive than the first game but we have a good team too and we'll be ready," said Skelton.

The winner of tomorrow's match will go to the Class LL finals on Saturday at 7 p.m. at Berlin High and whoever comes out on top among these neighboring towns will be favored to win.

"I'm extremely excited," said Ross. "It's a chance to redeem ourselves. We worked hard to get to this point and we have the strength to get to the finals."

Johnston said, "When we played them in the regular season, we had a very bad day. If we play like we had recently, we have a chance of coming out strong and it's a matter of who wants it more."