OXFORD — Given the way the Southington boys volleyball team had been playing this spring — 23 matches, 23 victories — a trip to Thursday night’s Class L state finals in Shelton seemed a matter of destiny for the No. 1-seeded Blue Knights.
Then old postseason rival Staples got in the way.
The No. 4 Wreckers lived up to their name Tuesday night, wrecking Southington’s state title aspirations with a 3-0 sweep on the neutral floor of Oxford High School. Staples won by game scores of 27-25, 25-22 and 25-19.
Staples (19-2), the defending Class L champ, will look to defend its title against the winner of No. 2 Newtown and No. 3 Darien.
For Southington (23-1), it was an emotional finish for a tight-knit squad that had a CCC Tournament championship to go along with its perfect regular season.
“The family that we have here with the boys and the parents is just an amazing thing to be a part of,” said Southington coach Lou Gianacopolous. “I wish more people can experience this. You see the emotions in them right now because they truly care for each other and the sport of volleyball. I couldn’t be more proud of these guys.”
Staples overpowered Southington up front, something that hadn’t happened much at all this season. Staples landed spike after spike in all three games.
And yet Southington led for almost the entirety of Game 1. At one point, the Blue Knights had a commanding 19-13 lead.
Then Staples went on a 7-2 run and clawed back, tying Southington 24-24 and going on to a 27-25 victory.
Confidence carried over into the second set for the Wreckers. They jumped out to an early 6-3 lead to start the game.
The Blue Knights managed to fight through the set, keeping themselves in striking distance, but never close enough to take the lead. Staples led wire in Game 2, taking it 25-22.
The Wreckers were supremely confident heading into the third set. Their energy and excitement grew with every spike that brought them closer to victory.
Staples started off the set red hot, going up 9-3. Southington got it together, but was unable to overcome the early deficit. Staples finished off the victory 25-19.
“We have an amazing team,” said Gianacopolous. “It started off with only three seniors, Tim (Walsh), Zach (Morgan) and Rocco (Possidento). Then our family grew with more seniors our sophomore season. This senior group has proven to me and proven to the community that the sport of volleyball is an amazing thing in town. For us to get to the final four and have this opportunity is tremendous.”
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