WESTPORT -- Jon Shepro couldn't have scripted a better start to the season.

With almost an entirely new set of starters gracing the court, Staples looked like its old, dominant self on Wednesday afternoon, and nothing at all like a team that's in transition.

Staples relied on a well-rounded effort from its new nucleus to defeat New Canaan convincingly, 25-20, 25-14 and 25-12.

"You really can't start the season any better than that," said Shepro, Staples' head coach.

The Wreckers showed plenty of poise after an inconsistent start--one that saw New Canaan take a 14-11 lead in the first game--and rarely missed an opportunity to finish around the net.

Senior middle hitter Jen Dimitrief piled up eight kills, Amelia Brackett had 10 kills and nine digs, and Lindsay Graber had five kills. Senior defensive specialist Lily Rappaport had a team-high 10 digs and Frankie Lynch led the team with 34 assists.

"I thought we showed a little bit of nerves the first game, which was understandable, and then the second and third games we started playing much better. Fewer silly mistakes, fewer missed serves," Shepro said. "We started getting the ball in our hitters' hands."

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The Wreckers scored six straight points to regain a 17-14 advantage in the first game, and then kept a firm hold on that lead. They led by no fewer than two points before Brackett closed out the first game with a kill.

With a win in hand in the first game, the Wreckers shook off their early-season jitters, settled in and refined their technique.

The lead changed hands three times in the second game before Staples pulled ahead for good on a kill by Dimitrief to make it 6-5. The Wreckers led just 9-8 in the third game, but they created some distance on a kill by Graber and went off to score seven of the next nine points.

"In between the first and second game, we needed to get our mentality straight. ... I think we were really nervous because it was the opening game," Dimitrief said.

New Canaan, which lost to Staples in the second round of the LL state tournament a year ago, also entered with a new look on the court, albeit to a lesser extent than its opponent. The Rams are in the midst of replacing three starters and head coach Katie Campbell is learning more about her team each day.

"We saw a variety of different things from girls I haven't seen yet," Campbell said. "I think they've been learning a lot the last couple weeks and preseason.

"Now we're seeing how they're putting it all together in real time."

Senior Kristin Cowley led the Rams with 19 digs, while Annie Conover recorded 12 kills and Isabelle Herde had 10 kills. Joanna Baran and Pari Koocheck tallied 17 assists apiece.

Campbell explained that some errors on New Canaan's part, coupled with some of Staples' abilities, made the difference.

"I think that they just started doing a few more stronger contacts with their attacks," she said. "We were struggling a little bit just to make sure that we would close our blocks."

dbonjour@scni.com; 203-255-4561 ext. 114; twitter.com/DougBonjour


NEW CANAAN 20 14 12--0

STAPLES 25 25 25--3

Records: New Canaan 0-1; Staples 1-0.

Highlights: NC--Kristin Cowley had 19 digs, Annie Conover had 12 kills and Isabelle Herde had 10 kills. Joanna Baran and Pari Koocheck both had 17 assists. S--Amelia Brackett had 10 kills and nine digs, Lily Rappaport had 10 digs and Jen Dimitrief had eight kills. Frankie Lynch had 34 assists.