Staples sweeps Simsbury in Class LL volleyball
WESTON -- While a craft fair booted the Staples girls volleyball team's home Class LL quarterfinal with Simsbury from the Wreckers' gym to Weston High School, the Wreckers wasted little time in getting used to their new surroundings.
Buoyed by an excellent defensive effort and the usual dominance of Amelia Brackett (23 kills), Staples reached the semifinals with a 3-0 sweep of Simsbury (25-21, 25-20, 25-23) on Saturday afternoon. The Wreckers will face Greenwich, which handed Staples both of its losses -- in five sets during the regular season and in five sets in the FCIAC title game -- in Thursday's semifinals.
"We were very disappointed when we first heard the news," Staples' Dayna Gelman, who helped lead the defensive charge, said about the site change. "But we know as a team we have the momentum that we can play anywhere and stay focused and play at our best."
Each game had a similar feel. The teams traded points in the early going of all three, only for the Wreckers to pull away with a dominating run. Simsbury had leads of 7-6, 7-6 and 14-11 in Games 1-3 respectively before the Staples' defense took control of the match.
"Our defense is really important, we were practicing for their big hitters so being all around the court, not being on your knees, moving your feet everywhere," Lauren Mushro (10 kills, eight digs), said. "I'm really happy with the way we played, it is nice to win in (three games) and have that momentum going for Greenwich."
Game 3 was particularly close. The teams were deadlocked at 18, before Staples inched ahead. Trailing 23-19, the Trojans rallied with four straight to tie the score. Brackett responded with two straight kills to close out the match.
Although the Wreckers didn't have to travel too far, the visitors sure did. Simsbury, which shares the same mascot and colors as Weston, ventured 75 miles for the contest. The Trojans finished seventh in the very competitive Central Connecticut Conference.
"(Facing an unknown opponent) was weird at first, but we had a look at their Maxpreps stats and their stats when they played against Newtown in the second round of states," Gelman said. "It was fun to play a team from outside Fairfield County."
When the pairings for the state tournament were released, the No. 3 Cardinals and No. 2 Wreckers appeared destined to meet in the Final Four. The teams played out a five-set thriller in their last meeting, resulting in Greenwich's first FCIAC championship.
"It's our nemesis," Shepro said of Greenwich. "We got another shot at them; hopefully we will come up with some new wrinkles for them. We know them, they know us. We played them pretty tough last time and hopefully we'll play them tougher this time."
Staples 3, Simsbury 0
SIMSBURY 21 20 23--0
STAPLES 25 25 25--
Records: Simsbury 16-4, Staples 10-1. Highlights: Staples--Amelia Brackett had 23 kills, two aces and three digs. Lauren Mushro had 10 kills and eight digs. Ariana Sherman had 37 assists.