But the Pioneers quickly learned there are no sure bets in the state tournament.
“I think they kind of cooled their heels a little bit, thought it was going to be a little bit easier than it was,” Lynnfield coach Michelle Perrone said. “Millbury came back and really showed us why they were the Central champions.”
The Woolies surprised Lynnfield by taking the second set and gave the North Sectional champions all they could handle. The Pioneers regrouped and ultimately took a 3-1 victory in the Division 3 state semifinal at Tewksbury High School.
The opening set wasn’t much of a contest as Abby Norwood and Hannah Shaievitz controlled the net for the Pioneers, who jumped to a 16-2 advantage and never looked back.
Lynnfield (21-3) advances to Saturday’s state championship at Algonquin Regional.
Longmeadow 3, Fairhaven 2 — Longmeadow’s stirring comeback in the fifth set punched its ticket to the Division 2 state finals.
Longmeadow (19-3) dominated the first set, but Fairhaven (20-1) regrouped in the next two sets and went into the fourth seemingly on fire. The score remained tight until senior Jennifer Hurwitz spearheaded 5 points to give Longmeadow a 25-20 lead.
“They’re great players and they got into our heads,” said Hurwitz, who had 18 kills and 25 digs. “But we told ourselves we could do it, stayed positive and came out with the win.”
Longmeadow’s win looked iffy in the final set until Hurwitz scored her second ace and Amanda Tyler (22 kills) took control for a 15-3 victory.
Globe correspondents Liz Torres contributed from Lawrence; Mary Pavlu from Hudson; and Patrick McHugh from Tewksbury.