Published in the November 24, 2015 edition
By DAN BYRNE
TEWKSBURY — Heading into Tuesday night’s girls’ volleyball Div. 3 state semifinal matchup with Sutton, Lynnfield High School had been steamrolling team after team as it had not dropped a set on its way through the North sectional bracket.
The Pioneers had beaten Boston International, number one seed Lowell Catholic, Notre Dame and Austin Prep 3-0 in each game. The result in the state semifinal against Sutton was no different. The Pioneers defeated Sutton in straight sets at Tewksbury Memorial High School to advance to the Div. 3 state final.
When asked how it felt to be heading to the finals, Head Coach Michelle Perrone said, “We’re so excited, we haven’t been there in a while and we’re ready. That was one of our goals, to get there. So now let’s hope we take it a step further than that.”
The Pioneers got off to a hot start in the first set as they quickly jumped out to an 11-4 lead en route to a 25-13 first set win. The first set was pure domination and proof that LHS was ready to go for this one.
“(The) first set we really had a lot of motivation, a lot of steam coming out,” Coach Perrone said. “I think we kind of caught Sutton of guard.”
One player that really shined for Lynnfield was junior Katie Nugent as she recorded a half dozen of her 18 kills in the first set.
Sutton had a resurgence in the second set, opening up an 8-4 lead before Perrone called for a timeout.
“I think we kinda fell back on our heels a little bit,” Perrone said of the slow start to the second set. “But we managed to re-fire it up again and get the job done.”
The lead eventually grew to 12-5, but from there Lynnfield chipped away. When the lead was cut to 16-13. Sutton called timeout. But Lynnfield held all the momentum. Once the Pioneers tied the set at 16-16, it went back and forth with the two teams tying six more times.
Sutton’s leader in the middle, senior Greta Watkins, led the way with 10 kills for the Suzies and was instrumental in the set. However, with the score tied 24-24, a substitution error involving Watkins cost Sutton a point at the crucial moment. Lynnfield won another point on the ensuing serve and took the second set by a 26-24 score.
Nugent wasn’t alone out there for the Pioneers as senior Jessica Morelli had a huge night with 16 assists. Junior Olivia Pascucci and senior Jessica Dwyer both came up big in crunch time in the second set for Lynnfield.
The third set was all Lynnfield as the freight train was rolling once again. The Pioneers stepped out to a quick 4-1 lead and ran it out to 9-4 before Sutton Head Coach Donna Coonan called for timeout. She couldn’t rally her troops just then and before long Lynnfield led by 12-7 and Coonan was asking for yet another timeout.
From there, Lynnfield got some crucial points from junior Jessica Badger, senior Mary Kate Deighan and junior Rebecca Albanese.
Lynnfield’s triumph in the third set was never really in doubt. Sutton staged a mini comeback down 24-15 with its back against the wall, behind some inspired blocking by Watkins. The Pioneers were just too strong as Nugent put the game away for Lynnfield notching another half dozen or so kills in the third set. Lynnfield took the third set 25-21.
Nugent led the Pioneers with 18 kills, five digs and three aces. Morelli had 16 assists. Senior captain Jess Dwyer had 21 digs and an ace. Senior Shannon Ryan had 14 digs and 12 assists. Junior Rebecca Albanese had 16 digs. Junior Olivia Pascucci had 10 digs and three kills.
When asked about Nugent after the game, Coach Perrone said, “She was really effective all night tonight. They had a very difficult time defending Katie’s back row attacks. When Katie is on, she is on. She really has come through for us in the clutch.”