Millis celebrates its Division 3 title (Evan Richman / Globe Staff)
Follow the links below for recaps of all three of today's state final volleyball matchups (or click the "full entry" link below to read them all).
Barnstable - again
By Jeff Schaible, Globe Correspondent
HUDSON - As inevitable as death and taxes, come the second week of November, the Barnstable girls' volleyball team hoists the MIAA Division 1 state championship trophy.
For the sixth consecutive season and for the 12th time in 16 years, the Red Raiders (21-1) asserted themselves as the Bay State's premier D1 program.
Last night, Barnstable beat Lincoln-Sudbury, 3-0 (25-19, 25-16, 25-10), for the Massachusetts's crown at Hudson High School.
"Obviously, this is the end goal - winning championships," said coach Tom Turco, who has amassed 465 wins (to just 46 losses) since taking the helm in 1988.
"These girls really amaze me," he said. "Their intensity, their demeanor . . . is the same every game, every practice. No matter who the opponent is or what we're playing for, they play their game."
Barnstable trailed early, 10-7, in Game 1 before finding its stride. The Raiders went on an 8-1 run to seize control. Senior Nora Wood closed the win with a smash between the Warriors' front and back lines.
Game 2 started similarly. L-S led, 10-7, but managed just 6 more points.
With momentum firmly in hand and another championship in sight, the Raiders turned the third game into a rout. With Stephanie Bristol serving, Barnstable went on an 11-0 run and coasted to victory.
Bristol, who netted her 1,000th career kill in the state semifinals earlier this week, had a game-high 15 kills. Wood and Alison Klotz added seven each. Lilly Lowe had three aces.
"This is exactly how I would have scripted it," said Bristol. "We want to win a championship every year but, of course, it means more as a senior."
Said Turco: "There is nothing more satisfying as a coach than seeing seniors graduate with a smile on their face. It's why I do it. I'm so proud. They reached the goals they set; they set them, not me."
Lincoln-Sudbury, the Division 1 Central/West champion, finished 23-2. Ashley Norley, a senior captain and three-year starter, had eight kills and six digs for the Warriors.
"I'm not disappointed," said Warrior coach Judy Katalina. "How many teams get to say they went to the state finals? They didn't play their best but they never got down. They never quit. I couldn't be prouder. They didn't lose it, Barnstable won it."
As they so often do.
Medfield comes up aces again
By Mike Grimala, Globe Correspondent
HUDSON - The Medfield girls captured their third state volleyball championship in four years yesterday, defeating Central Catholic in three sets, 25-18, 25-18, 25-14.
Medfield never trailed by more than 2 points, dominating all three sets and locking up the Division 2 title with relative ease.
"We played our game today," said Medfield senior captain Melissa Haskell. "Everything was working for us and we were feeding off each other. I've been playing with these girls since we were sophomores, and this was one of our best today."
Haskell was the key, coming up with big plays whenever Central Catholic tried to muster momentum. She had a kill and a block right off the bat in the first set to help Medfield jump out to a 4-0 lead, and she aced back-to-back serves during a 5-0 run that put the Warriors ahead, 13-8. Central Catholic closed to 16-12, but Medfield ripped off an 8-0 run, including three consecutive kills from Haskell, to make it 24-12 and seal the first set.
The second followed a similar path, with Haskell recording three kills and a block to give Medfield an early 6-3 lead. Central Catholic pulled within 15-13, but Haskell picked up three more kills in a 4-0 spurt that widened the Warriors' lead to 19-13. Back-to-back blocks from junior Georgia Naumann closed out the win and gave Medfield a 2-0 lead heading into the third set.
Haskell had five kills in the third set, and Caitlin Barrett finished things off with a spike to give Medfield the championship.
Previously undefeated Central Catholic (22-1) was playing in the state final for the first time, and coach Gannon Paris was proud of the Raiders' accomplishment, although he didn't believe they played their best yesterday. "There are things I think we could have done better," Paris said. "Mainly, we had trouble handling their serve all night, and that forced us to dump back to them most of the time. That let Medfield be on the attack, and with [Haskell] and [Barrett], they can pound you."
Medfield (23-2) finished with eight aces, four from Morganne Gagne and Haskell adding a pair. Haskell finished with a match-high 18 kills.
"I'm so happy for everyone," said Haskell. "At the start of the year we had high expectations and we knew we could do this, and we stayed together and played as a team. All the passes were great tonight, everyone was in position, it was just perfect."
Millis's impossible dream comes true
By Emily Werchadlo, Globe Correspondent
HUDSON - In warm-ups, the Millis volleyball team wore matching shirts emblazoned with an all-too-familiar phrase, "Reverse the Curse."
So how exactly were the Mohawks cursed?
They had been bounced in the sectional championship a few years ago. When they finally got over the sectional championship hump, they lost in the state semifinals. This year, Millis won in the semifinals, so it was bound to lose in the state championship match, right?
The Mohawks upended North Reading, the defending state champions, 3-1 (25-20, 25-23, 21-25, 25-20), to win the Division 3 title at Hudson High School yesterday.
"They did it," said Millis coach Lisa White. "That's the first thing [senior libero] Jess [Lee] said; 'We reversed it.' "
The Mohawks entered the tournament with a 10-8 record and a 10th seed in the Central Mass. bracket, but won six straight matches to advance to the state title game. On paper, they appeared to be underdogs against the 23-1 Hornets.
But Millis shot out to a 2-0 lead, recovering from a 17-9 deficit in the second game to escape with a 25-23 win.
"Our defense was on fire today," said Stephanie Gove, a two-time All-State selection who led her team with 32 digs. "We would not let the ball touch the ground."
North Reading seemed to suffer from a lack of communication in the first two sets, committing several errors as it fell into a deep hole.
"I think we played an A-minus/B-plus game compared to what we usually play," said North Reading coach Kerianne Forrest. "[Millis] hit well from everywhere."
The Hornets rebounded in the third set, taking a 16-14 lead before holding on to win, 25-21.
"When we lost the third [set], I told them I wanted to make the season longer, but I didn't want to make the match longer," said White. "If they still wanted to play, I told them we could have practice on Monday."
The Mohawks didn't make their coach wait much. They took a 17-16 lead in the fourth game before sealing the deal.
"I can't believe this. This is unreal," said Gove. "We worked hard to get here."
Lee led her team in kills with 11, while Shannon Heffernan and Deidre Nash added eight apiece. Senior Anna Luker added eight blocks.
Did the Mohawks ever expect to get this far?
"I don't know what I expected, but I know what I wanted," White said.
"There was just something in their eyes."
Several reporters and editors contribute updates, news and analysis to the High School Sports Blog.
- Bob Holmes: A Reading resident (Go Rockets!) and Boston College graduate, Holmes is the Boston Globe High School Sports Editor. We remind you now that his weekly picks are often made in jest so everyone just calm down when he picks against Everett for 11 straight weeks. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeHolmes.
- Craig Larson: A native of West Springfield (Leo Durocher anyone? Tim Daggett?) and Curry College graduate (a proud Colonel!), Larson is the sports editor for the Globe's regional sections: South, West and North, as well as a frequent contributor on the college beat. Abington to Xaverian: it all starts with the schools. Have a compelling story idea? Contact him at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeLars.
- Zuri Berry: Berry attended the same high school as sports legends O.J. Simpson and Joe DiMaggio. (Guess which one is his hero.) He's a South Boston resident (formerly of Eastie) and the editor of the High School Sports blog as well as the go-to-guy for everything high school sports on Boston.com. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @GlobeSchools for all of the latest updates.
Then there are our fall correspondents:
- Anthony Gulizia | @gulizia_a | Div. 1 football
- Eric Russo | @erusso22 | Div. 2 football
- Stephen Sellner | @stephen_sellner | Div. 3 football
- Andrew MacDougall | @Andy_MacDougall | Div. 4 football
- Greg Joyce | @GJoyce9 | Div. 5 football
- Lorenzo Recupero | @LorenzoRecupero | Div. 6 football
- Liz Torres | @etorres446 | Girls volleyball
To reach the high school sports department, e-mail email@example.com.