Staples volleyball sweeps Ridgefield in Class L semifinals
Staples High volleyball star Todd Goldstein remembers vividly watching his older brother, Jordan, play in and lose the 2010 state championship match -- and now the junior middle hitter has a shot at his own state title.
Goldstein tallied seven kills Tuesday, leading the Wreckers to a 3-0 victory over No. 2 Ridgefield in the Class L state semifinals at Fairfield Warde High School. The third-seeded Wreckers advance to face top-seeded Glasonbury in the final on Friday at 7 p.m. at Shelton High.
"It's been a dream of ours, the entire team, and it's been a dream of mine," Goldstein said. "I saw my brother in states, I've seen other teams in states. It's awesome. The whole team is really excited."
Staples had already beaten Ridgefield twice this season -- once in the regular season and once in the FCIAC final, both by the same 3-0 score. Even given those circumstances, however, the Wreckers knew better than to look past Ridgefield, as they had been in this situation before -- exactly one year ago, in fact. Staples had beaten Ridgefield twice last year and was lined up to face the Tigers again for a third time in the state semifinals at Fairfield Warde.
Last year, however, Staples was upended by the Tigers, who went on to lose in the state final to Cheshire.
This year, however, the Wreckers had an answer for every Ridgefield rally, winning by scores of 25-18, 25-22 and 25-13.
"We knew it wasn't going to be easy," Goldstein said. "We were in the same situation last year and lost to them. It was dejà vu for us. We weren't getting ahead of ourselves. We were taking it like it was the first time we played them, even though we knew exactly who they were. We had a great practice on Monday and came in prepared."
Staples (20-1) has won 20 straight matches, its only loss coming in the season-opener against Southington, 3-1. Ridgefield (19-3) suffered its only three losses this year to Staples. Glastonbury advanced to the final with a 3-2 victory over fourth-seeded Southington on Tuesday.
Earning such a decisive victory certainly gives the Wreckers a boost as they get ready for the final.
"It gives us a little confidence, and I think confidence is a big part of it," Staples coach Jon Shepro said. "We think we can beat the world right now, and that's great."
The first two games Tuesday were especially competitive and entertaining. Staples never trailed in the first game, but Ridgefield refused to go quietly. An ace by Lucas Carstens put Staples up 22-16. A Goldstein kill made it 23-17, and a kill by Ryan Petersen capped the victory.
Undaunted by its early deficit, Ridgefield stormed out to an early lead in the second game, only to see Staples come roaring back.
"They're a great team. They beat us three times, and they executed," Ridgefield coach Lidania Gonzalez Cibre said. "I'm proud of these guys. They did a good job. I'm happy with the season, but I know this loss kind of stings.
"Staples played more consistently, and if they made a mistake or two, they cleaned it up right away," Cibre continued. "We weren't able to clean it up right away."
The third and final game was all Staples, as the Wreckers put their foot on the gas and never let up.
Carstens finished with 10 kills and nine service points for Staples and Lucas Grevers had 16 service points. Harrison Hlawitschka chipped in with seven digs, 15 service points and 28 assists. Jonathan Denowitz had 12 service points, Patrick Connolly had 11 service points and seven digs, and Ryan Petersen had eight kills, 11 service points and six digs.
For Ridgefield, Karl Liapunov had seven kills, seven digs and eight service points. Paul Cooke had 20 assists and six service points, Griffin Jones had seven kills and four solo blocks and Tyler Chittenden and Jonathan Hicks added four kills apiece.
STAPLES 3, RIDGEFIELD 0
STAPLES 25 25 25 -- 3
RIDGEFIELD 18 22 13 -- 0