Something had to give when the Melrose girls’ volleyball team, ranked seventh in this week’s Globe Top 20, traveled to Winchester to take on the No. 19 Sachems on Wednesday night. Both teams were undefeated in Middlesex League play, and are at the top of their respective Freedom and Liberty divisions.
In an expectedly tight, four-set battle, Winchester persevered 3-1. It was the first meeting of the two conference powers since the Sachems won 3-2 in last year’s Division 2 North quarterfinals.
“This is a big win for us against one of the best programs in the state,” Winchester coach John Fleming said afterward.
“We dropped a tough loss [to Notre Dame Academy] on Friday, so to come back and play well against a well-coached team is big.”
The Sachems (11-1) jumped out to an early lead, taking the first set 25-20. But, the Red Raiders (13-1) would not go quietly, pivoting and evening the match with a 25-18 second set win.
“As a good team does, they made adjustments,” Fleming said. “We knew we had to dig out the third set if we wanted to win.”
That’s exactly what the Sachems did, taking it 25-18. Melrose started the fourth with a strong 5-0 lead, but Fleming’s squad surged on the service of senior Julia Johnston, roaring back to take the set (25-22) and match.
Johnston posted 34 assists and 27 service points, while junior outside hitter Luna Colozzo added 22 kills.Ethan Schroeder can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.