Down, 9-3, in the fifth set, Barnstable’s chances of winning were growing slim when coach Tom Turco delivered a message to his squad: “This is senior time and the seniors have to step up to change this.”
And they did. Middle hitter Colleen Koen and outside hitter Regan Bristol combined to lead the Red Raiders’ comeback. Barnstable forged a 10-10 tie en route to a 15-12 win that lifted Barnstable past Lincoln-Sudbury, 3-2, in the Division 1 state semifinal Wednesday.
“[The seniors] have to carry the load here. This is a game of momentum . . . and when the game is to 15 and we got up [to] 8-10, 9-10, 10-10, I was thinking, this’d be nice,” said Turco after the 27-29, 25-14, 21-25, 25-18, 15-12 win.
“You have to be realistic, the only thing I could tell them is you get the momentum and score the next four points and close this thing up, you’re going to win this thing,” he said.
The Warriors (18-2) ended their season with a fifth straight sectional championship and their most competitive run against Barnstable, having been swept in 2010 and 2008.
Both teams entered the match without having dropped a set in the tournament.
Lincoln-Sudbury senior outside hitter Alex Braverman’s powerful swing and ace ended a 40-minute first set.
“I never had that mind-set of losing, as a team I don’t consider it an option. Losing a match makes us more motivated and we just fed off momentum to get the next one,” said Bristol, who led the team with 31 kills (621 for her career).
Twelve unforced errors cost the Warriors the second set as an ace by Bristol and a hit by Koen (13 kills) tied the match at 1.
“I’ve never played a game like that. As seniors, as leaders, we need to step up,” said Bristol.
The Warriors’ best hitters, Braverman and senior Mandy Sifferlen, owned the third set, 25-21.
A crafty tip by senior setter Kayla Crook turned the fourth set in the Red Raiders’ favor, providing a 16-10 advantage.
Crook, who leads the state in assists, finished with 54, giving her 1,989 in her career.
The Warriors closed to within 20-16 on Braverman’s kills before Koen and Bristol finished it off,
Barnstable will face Newton North Saturday at 6 p.m. at Algonquin Regional.
Newton North served Barnstable its only loss of the season so the Red Raiders will be looking for revenge.
“There’s no greater motivator than a loss. These kids are really fired up and they knew they wanted another shot at this,” said Turco.
Division 3 semifinals — You can’t ask for a much better day in high school than the one Frontier Regional’s Cassidy Stankowski had.
After signing her National Letter of Intent to play volleyball at Central Connecticut, she dominated on the court as Frontier defeated Archbishop Williams, 3-0, at Hudson High.
“This afternoon was very emotional, but I knew I had to focus on this game,” she said. “This was the greatest finish to today.”
Frontier was on its game from the get-go as senior Victoria Whitney won eight straight service points to erase an early 3-0 deficit.
With Stankowski controlling the defense and senior Julia Wan (nine kills, seven blocks) patrolling the middle, the Red Hawks pulled away for a 25-14 opening-set win.
In the second set Stankowski went on the offensive, putting away nine of her game-high 15 kills in a 25-9 win.
“I thought we could kind of hang with them after the first set,’’ said Williams coach Trish Lewis. “But in the second set she was just unstoppable.’’
The third set was more of the same for Frontier, which has not dropped a set in the tournament.
The two-time defending state champions will go for the three-peat against Lynnfield Saturday at noon at Algonquin.