TRUMBULL -- In the regular season, the Staples High girls volleyball team let a 2-0 lead against Trumbull slip away, and surprisingly dropped three straight games.

The Wreckers made sure that didn't happen again when the two teams met on Saturday in the second round of the Class LL state tournament.

No. 10 Staples won by scores of 25-14 and 25-20, and then pulled out a wild 28-26 win to clinch the three-game sweep of seventh-seeded Trumbull.

With the win, the Wreckers (15-5) advanced to the quarterfinals and will visit No. 2 Cheshire (18-1) on Tuesday at 7 p.m.

"Cheshire always has one of the top programs in the country. I'm expecting them to come out firing," Staples head coach Jon Shepro said.

The Wreckers held a commanding 22-11 lead over Trumbull in the third game, but the Eagles fought back to within 22-16 before the Wreckers got to match point. The Eagles, who trailed 24-16 at the time, promptly reeled off nine straight points for a 25-24 lead.

The Wreckers eventually knotted the score 26-26 on a kill by Cheyenne Haslett, and clinched the win when Valerie Kirsch recorded a soft, well-placed kill into open space on the court.

"The third game brought back memories," Staples senior libero Lillian Rappaport said.

"I'm proud that the girls were able to overcome that," said Shepro, adding that his team learned a telling lesson. "The game's not over until you score that last point. It's a good learning lesson."

Shepro said that he talked to his players during a timeout, with Staples ahead 24-23, and reminded his team to not lose its focus. He was hopeful that his team would get it done right away.

"The team was real nervous. I tried to calm them down as best I could," Shepro said.

"We didn't want to give them a chance to breathe," he added. "Trumbull wanted it bad and they fought hard for it."

Frankie Lynch led Staples with 21 assists, including nine in the third game. Both Lynch and Lindsey Graber had six kills. Amemlia Brackett had five kills, while Jen Dimitrief had four.

Shepro said that a big difference in the match was hustle points. He noted that the Wreckers benefitted from points off seemingly tough shots.

"I think there was better energy among us," senior Anna Fiolek said. "I think we just really, really wanted to come out today and beat them."

Fiolek was sidelined with an injury in the regular-season loss to Trumbull and she was thrilled to help her team this time around. She recorded four kills.

Rappaport, who recorded 20 of the team's 40 digs, is anxious to take on Cheshire in the next round.

"It's going to be tough. I think all of our games are going to be tough in this tournament," she said.

Andy Hutchison is a freelance writer


STAPLES 25 25 28--3

TRUMBULL 14 20 26--0

Records: Staples 15-5; Trumbull 14-6.

Highlights: S--Lillian Rappaport had 20 digs. Frankie Lynch had 21 assists and six kills. Lindsey Graber had six kills.