Spring preview: Staples boys volleyball to lean on experience

Not satisfied with the way last season ended, the Staples High boys volleyball team is eager to return to competition.

In 2012, Staples went 18-0 in the regular season -- 15 of those wins by 3-0 -- but was left empty-handed in the postseason. The Wreckers were eliminated by Darien 3-2 in the FCIAC semifinals and lost to Ridgefield 3-1 in the semifinals of the L state tournament.

The Wreckers had beaten both of those teams twice during the regular season.

"I think we're just anxious to get some tough losses at the end of last year out of our brain," coach Jon Shepro said.

Staples returns plenty of talent and experience, leaving Shepro confident heading into the season.

Seniors Jonathan Denowitz, Nicolas Cohen and Ryan Petersen are expected to contribute as outside hitters. Junior Lucas Grevers will see time at middle hitter, while senior Lucas Carstens will be a weakside hitter.

"We're going to have a lot of offensive options," Shepro said, "and a lot of guys who can put the ball down."

Senior Harrison Hlawitschka will be the team's setter.

"I think we've got a good group of guys," Shepro said. "They learned a lot of lessons last year. We had a real nice season. The guys got a lot of playing time."

Staples opens its season April 5 at Southington -- a team the Wreckers defeated 3-1 in the L state quarterfinals in 2012.

Denowitz said that the Wreckers' experience will be a key factor this season.

"We've played together for a long time," he said. "Knowing each other and knowing how we play, it definitely helps us out on the court. We've got a lot of chemistry. It's a big part of how we play."

The expectations remain high for Staples -- a program that won eight straight FCIAC titles from 2003-2010.

"Every year I think we can compete with the best teams in the FCIAC," Shepro said. "I expect that again. ¦ We certainly can compete with the best teams in the FCIAC, if not the state as well."

Petersen added, "Our goal would be to be in that last game, the state finals."

dbonjour@scni.com; 203-255-4561 ext. 114; twitter.com/DougBonjour