Fairfield Ludlowe girls volleyball player Kelly Rotondo was exhausted in the minutes after her team's game with Staples.
After all, the senior setter had done just about everything to help the Falcons win their 11th consecutive match.
Rotondo had 40 assists, 13 digs and three aces as Ludlowe held off the Wreckers 3-0 (25-17, 25-23, 25-21) on Friday at Ludlowe.
"This is the tiredest I've ever been after a game," Rotondo said. "That was a tough game ... but we came out with a win."
"I think (Rotondo) is our unsung hero," Ludlowe coach Meghan Skelton said. "We often look at our hitters and print their stats, but she's our savior."
Lily Rappaport had 12 digs and an ace as Staples had its two-game win streak snapped. The Wreckers fell to 11-4 and back into the FCIAC's muddled-middle.
"I think we fought real hard," Staples coach Jon Shepro said. "We gave it a good run and I think we can give them a good run if we see them again."
Staples' defense proved problematic for the normally efficient Falcons' offense. The Wreckers recorded 22 digs and four blocks and forced the Falcons into errors throughout games 2 and 3.
"They were digging everything," Skelton said. "Very good defense by their side."
But whenever the Falcons needed a point, Nelson, Elsaesser or junior Casey Boatwright were able to gain kills, often as a result of Rotondo's movement and passing.
"She's a very athletic girl," Shepro said. "She's able to set a lot of different options and that hurt us a lot."
"She's the quarterback without the glory," Skelton said. "It's very difficult."
Ludlowe also was fortunate in game two. With the score tied at 23, Boatwright's apparent shot out was ruled to have been tipped by a Wreckers defender, giving the Falcons a 24-23 advantage.
Rotondo's kill helped seal the game 2 win, 25-23, putting the Falcons up 2-0.
Rotondo also aided her team's cause with important service runs in game 3, helping the Falcons build a 14-10 advantage.
"She's amazing," Nelson said of Rotondo. "She does a great job."
Staples got to within 15-14 thanks to Frankie Lynch's three-point run, but two unforced errors-- sandwiched around Jaime Quinn's block and Corinne Lang's ace-- lifted the Falcons to their largest lead of game 3, 19-14.
"Ludlowe played good defense," Shepro said. "We had some good swings and they dug them all up."
Amelia Brackett (four kills, four digs, one ace) helped cut Ludlowe's edge to 19-17, but the Wreckers could get no closer. Nelson's kill cemented Ludlowe's 25-21 victory.
"We were determined to keep our energy up," Nelson said. "Staples is an amazing team ... when we all work together, we all play so good."
STAPLES 17 23 21
LUDLOWE 25 25 25
Records-- S: 12-4; FL: 15-1; Staples: Amelia Brackett had four kills, four digs and one ace; Lily Rappaport had 12 digs and one ace; Ludlowe: Kelly Rotondo had 40 assists, 13 digs and 3 aces; Emily Nelson had 22 kills and 17 digs.