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Div. 1 state volleyball final

Cambridge stuns Milford

Buderi, Penrose lead way in upset

Cambridge beat Milford in the boys state volleyball championship, 3-2. Cambridge players celebrated the win. Cambridge beat Milford in the boys state volleyball championship, 3-2. Cambridge players celebrated the win. (Jon Mahoney / For the Boston Globe)
By Liz Torres
Globe Correspondent / June 14, 2012
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WELLESLEY - The state championship was on the line. Cambridge trailed, 12-11, in the final game. The pressure was intense on the Falcons’ two standouts, Robbie Buderi and Jalen Penrose.

“I just felt sick,” said Buderi.

But they weren’t ready to give up. The duo each had a kill to put Cambridge up by one and Buderi added a block to bring the Falcons to game point.

“I couldn’t even believe it but that’s when practicing pays off, in moments like that. You don’t think, you just do,’’ he said.

The surge took the fight out of Milford, and a shot into the net gave the Falcons their first state championship in more than a decade, a 25-20, 25-21, 23-25, 25-27, 15-12 triumph over the previously unbeaten Scarlet Hawks.

“We knew we had to bring intensity, we just brought a little more than they did and it came in our favor,’’ said Penrose.

The feat made coach Kelley Leary proud because not only did Cambridge take down a powerhouse Milford team, but the Falcons did so after dropping two straight games before bouncing back to win the finale.

“I’m never going to forget this,’’ she said. “To battle back after being tied 2-2 and to watch them really fight, that’s what they did all season and that’s what they were here to do tonight,’’ said Leary.

The Falcons came out strong in the first and second games, with Penrose and Buderi leading the way.

“It’s a good feeling because you know you can put the ball wherever you want,’’ said Penrose. “You can score and you can win games. And it’s never too much pressure I love pressure.’’

The third game was a different story.

The Falcons (22-3) led much of the way before Milford took over, inching to its first lead when junior Kane Wittorff’s hit gave the Scarlet Hawks a 17-16 lead. From there, a point-for-point rally ensued until a tip by senior Alex Wasik made it 23-22 Milford and a Falcons’ missed hit made it 24-22 and Milford escaped with the win.

“We tend to break down, it’s true,” said Buderi. “We’re very emotional and that can be a blessing and a curse but in the end we still come out.”

The Falcons struggled in the fourth game, allowing Milford to control play until a pair of blocks tied the score at 12. A tip and a kill from Buderi made it 15-12, prompting a Milford timeout. The Scarlet Hawks rebounded, and Wittorff and junior Michael Soares finished off the comeback with a block to seal the 27-25 win.

Cambridge had the final say, though, down the stretch of the fifth game and brought home a state title a year after a lackluster 11-8 season.

“Last season was a little disappointing. We just didn’t have enough commitment and experience to push through, but they brought that this year,” said Leary.

The final score must have been a shock for the Scarlet Hawks, and not just because they lost for the first time this season. Milford (22-1) hadn’t lost a game since a 3-2 win over Algonquin April 24. The 14 straight matches heading into Wednesday night’s final all ended 3-0. That’s 42 straight game wins before Cambridge ended the streak at Babson.

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