By: Jonathan Kaner ’18
The Staples girls’ volleyball team remains alive in the Class LL State Tournament after defeating Brien McMahon in three sets on Monday, Nov. 7 at Staples.
“Everybody played their best and came with their a-game,” middle hitter Bella Jagenberg ’19 said. “We fell a little bit but came back really strong.”
Right out of the pregame huddle, the Wreckers came out fighting, going on a huge rally and eventually taking a double-digit lead. Led by captain Vanessa Eng ’18, who had a round of a few successive serves, Staples won the first set 25-17. “Once I know where the weak spots are on the other team, I go after them,” Eng, who had six aces on the day, said. “This helped our team go on a run and gave us a good lead.”
The second set started out differently than the first, with a more back and forth game. McMahon looked to give Staples a more competitive set in order to avoid putting themselves in a 2-0 hole. But eventually, the Wreckers remained resilient and were able to pull away.
“McMahon began to put in their non-starting players which slowed down the game a bit,” Eng said. “This really took the momentum off of us, but once we realized we can’t let up, we got back into the game, focused.”
The Wreckers took their momentum from the second set into the third set and went up 14-4. McMahon did not go down without a fight, however, and retaliated with five unanswered points, forcing Coach Jonathan Shepro into a timeout.
“I told the girls that it is about learning,” Shepro said. “It’s about understanding that the other team is working just as hard to beat you as you are to beat them so I gave them a little pep talk and they turned it around.”
The last set remained close, and it wasn’t until Staples had a 19-18 lead when Eng delivered the final blow to McMahon. Eng’s jumping-style serve was again too much for McMahon to handle, and the Wreckers celebrated their first-round win.
“I feel great about today’s game,” Shepro said. “We set the tone early in each of the sets, came out fast, and played with a lot of energy.”
The Wreckers’ first-round victory means that as the 15 seed, they will be traveling to Southington on Thursday, Nov. 9 to face the second ranked Knights.
“This last win will really help us stay motivated going into our next game,” Jagenberg said. Southington has not seen an FCIAC opponent yet this season, Shepro added, and is sure the Wreckers will give them a good run.