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Staples Gets Payback, Heads to State Finals

The Staples boys volleyball team entered the Class L state semifinals looking for redemption. The Wreckers took on Southington, which broke Staples' 102 game winning streak last season. This time the Wreckers claimed victory, winning 3-1 in the semis and punching their ticket to the Class L finals.

This was not Staples' first rematch against the Blue Knights. During the regular season the two teams faced off and Staples won 3-0. Going into the game, Staples knew what to expect. Junior Jonah Ayelon said, "We knew two things. They had a really good hitter, so we really tried to focus on him. Also we knew their setter was slow, so if we didn't have an option to hit, we would put the ball in the middle and hope he would mess up the pass."

After dropping a sloppy first set 23-25, things started to pick up for the Wreckers in the second. Senior Drew Appleman and Ayelon each hammered in 3 kills and senior Jake McCambley knocked down an ace serve. After a kill from senior Andreas Bub, the score was 24-20. Southington scored 2 more to narrow the gap, but Ayelon came up with a monster kill to earn Staples' 25th point, and tie the game 1-1.

Southington collapsed in the third game losing to Staples 25-10. Staples took an early lead with a block and two kills from Bub and 3 kills from Ayelon. Senior Danny Fishman had 10 consecutive service points as Southington's back row continued to struggle, despite the two timeouts it used in an attempt to regroup.

Bub dominated the 4th game. After he smacked down two kills in a row, Southington’s Matt Russo was charged with a yellow card for trash talking the Staples team. Bub's response? A huge kill that silenced the Southington team for good as Staples took a 17-10 lead. Bub scored Staples' final point on another massive kill, earning the Wreckers their place in the state championship game.

"I think as far as the dynasty of Staples volleyball goes, it has always been an expectation that we make the FCIAC and state championship games each and every year," Ayelon said. "Not winning FCIACs this year really disappointed the team. Making the state finals is a big accomplishment for us and hopefully we'll win it.

Staples will face top-seeded Cheshire in the Class L finals on Friday. The match is set for 7 p.m. at Fairfield Warde High School.

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