Published in the October 3, 2018 edition
By DAN PAWLOWSKI
WAKEFIELD — It was an instant classic at the Charbonneau Field House last night.
The Wakefield volleyball team, playing Arlington in the final game of a four-game homestand, battled back after dropping the first two sets to win the third before the Spy Ponders got out of dodge as an epic game four ended at 25-23.
Wakefield entered play with a two-game winning streak after beating Stoneham and Revere on Thursday and Friday. The Warriors won both of those games 3-1.
While head coach Sasha Duprey admitted that they shouldn’t have dropped a set to either team, it made the Warriors fight and earn their victories.
“We didn’t play our best volleyball,” said Duprey in reference to the Stoneham and Revere game. “When we lose a set against teams we know we are better than we have a tendency to fall apart so it was good we had to fight a little bit. It was good to get a couple wins and boost the confidence. They should have confidence all the time they just don’t always.”
For a team whose theme this season revolves around gaining confidence, the Warriors did just that against Arlington.
The first set didn’t go well for the home team as Arlington pulled away with a 25-13 win.
Wakefield responded with a much more competitive second set.
Captain Eadeen Beck, who finished the night with nine kills and 23 digs, had two emphatic kills in the middle of the set to tie it at 16-16 before Arlington pulled away to win 25-18.
It was a loss that felt more like a win. The Warriors weren’t backing down to a Middlesex large school.
After Wakefield kicked off the third set with a 5-1 lead, Beck led by example as she fought off multiple laser beam serves and spikes from the back row to keep rallies alive.
Arlington came back to take a 9-6 lead, forcing a timeout from Duprey. It was perhaps the most important huddle of the 2018 season. Here, we can admit defeat; we tried our best. That’s not exactly how it went.
Wakefield stormed back onto the court with a new level of energy. Junior middle hitter Maddie Melanson had two blocks during a 4-1 stretch that tied the set at 10-10.
The seniors then showed the type of fight that would become contagious.
Hannah Butler called for the ball and sent one down on a second-effort after her first attempt was blocked. After Arlington responded and took a 16-13 lead, Jaime Greatorex got one of her nine kills on a great swing after a nice pass from sophomore setter Clara Butler. An ace from Beck tied it at 16.
Later, junior Katie Pearl chased an errant pass heading out of bounds and hit it back towards the Warriors, dodging the scoring table and keeping a rally alive that Wakefield would win. Pearl followed that by getting to a free ball in no-man’s land for Wakefield’s third hit that would also keep a great rally alive.
In the end, Beck wouldn’t let the Warriors lose this one.
“She was sick last week and then on Friday (vs. Revere) she hit over .300 and had 10 kills and only one error,” said Duprey. “She’s hitting consistently and intelligently. She’s doing a really good job of rallying the girls too.”
Amongst her diving digs, which were imitated by back row players like junior Jordyn Pugsley, and words of encouragement for her teammates, Beck had a ferocious kill from the outside to make it 21-20 before a smart cut shot sent the Field House into a frenzy. On the next point, Clara Butler faked a pass, instead sending it over for a kill and Greatorex made it 24-22 before a Spy Ponders mishit made it official: 25-22 Wakefield.
“Two weeks ago we would have given up after the first set,” said Duprey. “Tonight we weren’t great in the first but we came back stronger in the second and even stronger in the third. Our mental toughness and resiliency is definitely showing. Teams aren’t expecting that from us.”
The momentum carried over into the fourth set. Hannah Butler had an early kill and an ace before Melanson came up with her third block to force a timeout from Arlington with Wakefield up 10-3.
Butler, Beck and Greatorex continued to do the bulk of the scoring for Wakefield until Arlington made their run in the middle of the set, forcing a Wakefield timeout with the score 18-17 Warriors.
The tension increased, but Greatorex made a statement out of the timeout with a strong spike to make it 19-17.
The epic tug-of-war continued when the Spy Ponders tied it 21-21. Clara Butler got another key late kill on a tip. Going up for a ball hovering just over the net, Butler read the defense moving right and cut it left all in one motion to reclaim the lead at 22-21. The Spy Ponders would eventually tie it 23-23 and sent their ace back to the serving line. The Arlington big hitter would end the game on two blistering fastball aces.
Wakefield lost last night, but what this game did for their season might end up being far more invaluable than a check mark in the win column.
“We are finally playing some volleyball we’re really proud of,” said Duprey. “Everyday we’re getting better and we’re fighting harder. It’s more of a complete game versus just one set. Results will start going our way as long as we keep progressing like we have the last two weeks.”
Wakefield travels to Woburn on Thursday and Bishop Fenwick on Friday before coming back home to play Belmont on Monday night at 5 p.m.