Staples spring preview: Volleyball team chases 11th FCIAC title in 13 years

The winds of change are blowing strong around the Staples boys volleyball program.

Not only did the Wreckers lose nearly their entire team that won their 10th FCIAC title in 12 seasons, there will be a new coach making the signals in 2015.

Former assistant Daniel Cho takes over from Jon Shepro, who led the team the past four seasons and posted a 76-10 record. Cho is an assistant to Shepro on the girls team and works as a coach at Chelsea Piers in Stamford.

In addition to working with Cho at Staples, Shepro taught and coached Cho when he was a student at Trumbull.

"I'm very excited (for this opportunity)," Cho said. "I didn't think it was going to happen this soon, I'm thankful for this opportunity to show what I can do. There are a lot of expectations and high hopes."

The Wreckers will go to battle with a young group, led by three seasons in Jacob Bernstein, Spencer Gabor and Chris Delaurentis. Cho also added that junior Jared Himmel will contribute.

"We have a bunch of guys that have been playing together for a while," Cho said. "They have a good chesmistry together. They still have a lot of work to do but they are working hard toward those high goals."

Cho is pleased with his team's offense, but the defense must improve to reach the its full potential.

Staples' Chris Delaurentis spikes the ball as a Southington defender attempts to block during the Wreckers' loss in the Class L state boys volleyball semifinals at Shelton High School in Shelton, Conn. on Monday, June 9, 2014.
Staples' Chris Delaurentis spikes the ball as a Southington defender attempts to block during the Wreckers' loss in the Class L state boys volleyball semifinals at Shelton High School in Shelton, Conn. on Monday, June 9, 2014.Brian A. Pounds

"Everyone wants to hit, I feel like good defense is the best way to steal points," Cho said. "We'll do our best to have a good defense."

Staples begins the season April 10 at Bassick, and faces Southington April 11 in a rematch of the Class L semifinal won by the Blue Knights.

"(Southington) is our first test," Cho said. "They took us out of states last year, it will be a good challenge to gauge where we are; we'll be seeing them in states."

FCIAC finalist and Class L champion Ridgefield appears to be the favorite this year with Darien close behind. The Wreckers tangle with the Tigers twice, including on the penultimate date (May 18) of the regular season.

Regardless of who suits up for Staples, the expectation will remain the same.

"I strongly believe we can do that again," said Cho, referring to an FCIAC championship. "We have a lot of work to do and big shoes to fill with the kids that left last year."