FAIRFIELD—It was exactly what playoff boys volleyball should be.
The Staples boys volleyball team battled through five exciting games with Danbury before emerging with a hard-fought 20-25, 26-24, 25-19, 23-25, 15-10 triumph Wednesday night in the FCIAC semifinals at Ludlowe HS gym.
The win means No. 2 seed Staples will meet No. 1 seed Darien for the FCIAC boys volleyball crown on Friday at 7 p.m. at Ludlowe. Darien topped New Canaan in four games in Wednesday’s early semifinal.
Their spot in the FCIAC final was not certain for Staples until the Wreckers fashioned a 5-0 run in Game 5 for a 10-5 edge. Staples ultimately won 15-10.
“When we faced Danbury in the regular season, they beat us in five games,” said Staples senior Logan Carstens. “This time we knew what we had to do to succeed. Everybody did their job. This is as good as we’ve played all season.”
The contest had the tone and atmosphere of a boxing matchup.
No. 3 seed Danbury hit Staples with the first punch, capturing Game 1 by 25-20 for the early lead.
Staples overcame a 23-21 Danbury lead in Game 2 to win 26-24 and even the match.
Staples used a 7-1 surge late in Game 3 for a 24-15 edge that became a 25-19 victory and a 2-1 lead.
Danbury appeared dead in the water, trailing 20-14 in Game 4. But with Kayque Jorge serving seven straight points, the Hatters grabbed a 22-20 edge. A kill by Jorge (28 kills) gave Danbury a 25-23 win and an advance into the decisive fifth game.
“We made progress last year. But we brought everyone together this season,” said Jorge, who will be playing college volleyball at Johnson & Wales in Rhode Island in the fall. “We’re mentally stronger this year. This was our first time ever in the FCIAC semifinals and we did a great job.
“This experience will pay dividends,” Jorge continued. “In the state tournament, we’re ready for any team in the state. We’re ready for the challenge.”
“We started slowly this season. But the kids stuck with our plan,” said Danbury coach Daylon Wilkins. “I’m happy with the effort tonight. I’m so proud with how they fought. This helps the confidence of the kids and the program. Our motto is ‘We refuse to be outworked.’ ”
As for defending FCIAC and Class L state champion Staples and first-year head coach John Sedlock, the Wreckers get another chance against Darien (20-1 overall), which has lost four sets the entire year.
“Our mentality changed after our mid-season (3-0) loss at Darien. The kids have learned when they get pushed to push back as a team,” Sedlock said. “We realize what it takes to win. And how to step up to the challenge.”
STAPLES 3, DANBURY 2
FCIAC PLAYOFF SEMIFINALS