THE WARRIORS welcomed back the Red Sea to the Charbonneau Field House with an epic five-set victory over Lexington, the first Wakefield volleyball win over the Minutemen in program history. (Dan Pawlowski Photo)
Move to 2-1 on the season
By DAN PAWLOWSKI
WAKEFIELD — The Red Sea is back.
Wakefield’s student section has been waiting a long time to return to sporting events at Wakefield Memorial High School. If last night’s volleyball game at the Charbonneau Field House is any indication, Warrior teams this fall will get right back into having one of the best home game advantages in the league.
Backed by their classmates, including a surprise appearance from “Moses” who got the people going, the Warriors jumped out to a 2-0 set lead over Middlesex Large foe Lexington, the team who knocked Wakefield out of the Middlesex League Tournament quarterfinals last season. The Minutemen tied it at 2-2 before Wakefield won set five by a 15-13 score.
“It was a revenge game, for sure,” admitted Wakefield’s second-year head coach Kayla Wyland, whose Warriors promptly crossed another team off the list of squads that the 11-year program had never defeated before. Wakefield beat Reading for the first time in program history in the first round of the league playoffs last year, and although the Rockets got a 3-1 win in the season opener on Thursday, the Warriors responded with another five-set thriller over Bishop Fenwick on Saturday and moved to 2-1 with the win over Lexington.
“This team has matured so much from last year when it was a challenge for us to realize that we can battle with some of these bigger teams in the Middlesex League,” said Wyland. “We thought we had to play perfect to get the end result we wanted and this year we’re learning we can make mistakes and there might be ups and downs but we can grind through it.
“Even from (Thursday’s) Reading game when you could see those nerves a little to Fenwick and this game we’ve learned that it’s ok to be up and down – it’s all about how you respond to those peaks and valleys.”
After being up for the first two sets, 25-19 then 25-22, the Warriors got down in the third and fourth sets which Lexington won 25-23 and 28-26 respectively. The Minutemen continued to hold the momentum in the fifth and final set, at one point leading 6-3 until the Warriors responded with a 12-7 run to win another close one 15-13.
A kill from senior captain Maddy Seabury, who often controlled the play from the middle even against a strong Lexington front line, started Wakefield’s comeback in the 5th to make it 6-4. Sophomore Savannah Cummings hit a nice shot down the line off a dish from senior Haley Ogier to make it 6-5. A booming hit from the left side by senior Talia Thomson continued to hype the Sea up as Wakefield pulled even at 7-7, forcing a Lexington timeout.
A Lexington error and two more kills from Seabury and junior Christa Imbriano made it 10-7 but Lexington stormed back eventually tying it 11-11.
A cut shot from Imbriano, an error and an impressive block kill from Seabury made it 14-11. Although Lexington continued to make it interesting by scoring the next two points, Wakefield finally ended it.
The Red Sea was with them through every point, something that the seniors on this team haven’t experienced since their sophomore seasons.
It was certainly an advantage, especially as the Minutemen hit plenty of errors while trying to serve and spike on the side of the court directly in front of the students in the 5th set. However, according to Wyland, it was an energy the team needs to learn how to control again.
“It definitely helped us in a positive way but at times it brought those nerves back,” said Wyland of the crowd. “In the first set we were playing very timid and in a timeout I said, ‘We’re having fun but we need to remember that this is a huge Middlesex League game for us if we want to make the tournament this year for the first time. Let’s have fun but light a fire and use the crowd to our advantage,’ and from that point on they were lights out for the rest of the set.”
Wakefield trailed 13-9 before ending that first set on a 16-6 run thanks in large part to three kills from Seabury and four service aces from senior Haley Ogier.
The tug-of-war for momentum continued for the rest of the match. Lexington came back to take a 19-18 lead in set two but Wakefield finished strong, a kill from junior Mia Forti at the net and another well-placed tip shot from Imbriano helped lead to a 2-0 set advantage.
Although it was Lexington who made the clutch shots to win two more competitive sets, the Warriors got the final say.
Wakefield made impressive strides in Wyland’s first season – Fall 2 which took place in March and April – but have their sights set on more this year, like finishing above .500 for the second season in a row and making the state tournament for the first time in team history.
For a full volleyball preview along with all fall sports, look for our sports supplement which will be included in this Friday’s paper.