LAWRENCE — For Melrose coach Scott Celli, a winning tradition “never gets old.” It also comes as no surprise with a powerhouse duo of Sarah McGowan and Brooke Bell.
The senior captains claimed their fourth consecutive Division 2 North championship Saturday in Lawrence, beating Arlington Catholic in straight games, 25-21, 25-17, 25-9.
“We’ve wanted this so bad and we want it every year and this year is the first time a class has won all four years,” said McGowan.
“I wouldn’t have done it without her,” McGowan and Bell said of each other.
“So together we make a pretty good combo,” said McGowan.
In the regular season, McGowan led the state in kills per game, and Bell set the program’s all-time assist record.
“These kids are hungry and the Melrose way is winning matches like this,” said Celli.
McGowan led the team with 13 kills and Bell collected 24 assists to guide the Red Raiders (24-1) to their seventh sectional championship in a decade.
After a back-and-forth first game, McGowan’s kill and a block by Kayla Wyland generated momentum for the Red Raiders, and a tip from Jennifer Cain settled it, 25-21.
Melrose held off the Cougars in the second game, stunting Arlington Catholic’s momentum with a strategic timeout. In the third game, a tip by Maeve Moriarty and a double block by McGowan and Rachel Johnson closed the match — and another sectional title.
“I said to them in the huddle, ‘This feeling never gets old,’ and we’ll be hungry next year but we still have a ways to go,” said Celli.
Division 1 North — Andover won its 23d straight match, sweeping North Andover, 25-14, 25-18, 25-21. Senior Elizabeth Wait tallied 10 kills to head an offensive wall with fellow seniors Lauren Gibson and Marcela Familiar Bolanos, who notched eight kills apiece.
Division 2 Central — Canton came from behind to defeat Medfield, 18-25, 22-25, 28-26, 25-22, 15-9. The top-seeded Bulldogs (22-0) were led by senior Julia Murphy (25 kills, 9 blocks, 3 aces), junior Avery Devoe (10 kills, 7 blocks), and senior Jackie Bornemann (9 kills, 2 aces, 17 digs).
Division 1 Central-West — Top-seeded Lincoln-Sudbury scored its third straight sweep, beating Wellesley, to take the title. L-S (18-1) advances to Wednesday’s state semifinals.
Division 3 North — Caroline Shannon (five kills, nine aces) sparked a first-set rally as Lynnfield won its fourth straight title with a straight-set win over rival and seven-time finalist Notre Dame of Tyngsborough, 25-21, 25-13, 25-14. The Pioneers (20-3) will meet Millbury in the Division 3 state semifinal Tuesday at Tewksbury High School at 7.
Division 3 South — Archbishop Williams (16-6) beat Holbrook, 25-19, 23-25, 25-16, 25-13. Next up: the state semifinals Wednesday in Hudson.