The two winningest boys’ volleyball teams in Massachusetts met Wednesday night at St. John’s Prep, and with a state title on the line, Needham cemented itself as a dynasty.
The top-seeded Rockets took flight once again, defeating No. 2 seed Westford, 25-17, 25-18, 25-21, to win their second consecutive Division 1 state championship. It caps off a remarkable run for the powerhouse program, which has completed back-to-back unbeaten seasons, won 46 consecutive matches and captured 138 of 139 sets in that span.
“If you look back on the history of boys’ volleyball in Massachusetts . . . I’m not sure there’s a two-year stretch where there’s been this type of dominance,” Needham coach Dave Powell said. “It speaks to the kids being hyper-competitive, hyper-focused and really talented.”
Ohio State-bound senior Ben Putnam was once again the star for Needham (24-0), posting 21 kills and confounding the crowd with his hangtime on several spikes. But the triumph was truly a team effort.
Five different Rockets — Putnam, Jonathan Ochalla, Owen Ching, Raymond Weng, and Nolan Leary — each served an ace in the first set. Ethan McCarron stamped his breakout junior season with 13 kills. Weng racked up 40 assists.
“We served really aggressively,” Powell said. “[Putnam] did get his today, but we were going to need more than him today if we were going to beat them.”
On one play in the second set, Putnam found the ball on a second touch and set up his setter, with Weng slamming home a kill that even caught Putnam off-guard.
“I didn’t see that coming at all. I’ve never seen him do that,” Putnam said. “It was pretty cool to see.”
Westford felt just a step behind throughout. The Ghosts (21-2) battled to 19-18 deficits in both the second and third sets before Needham shut the door in each. Matthew Zegowitz led Westford with 8 kills and Aarush Singh tallied 20 assists.
Coach Brandon Eang said his team needed to improve its passing, but fought hard. Even in Westford’s first state final as a team, defeat after a 21-game win streak still stings.
“A loss is a loss,” Eang said. “I don’t look at it as, ‘Wow, we’re here.’ To me, it’s just another game. [But] I want to recognize the accomplishment and I want to give credit to my players at the same time.”
To maintain this type of dominance, Putnam said, is a credit to the dedication of the entire Needham squad.
“I think we just worked hard every day and we got the results we wanted,” he said. “We worked hard, we worked as a unit, and we were able to get all that stuff done.”
Division 2 State
Westfield 3, North Quincy 0 — Many volleyball coaches strive for balance in their team’s offense.
Westfield boys’ coach Tyler Wingate instead calls it “efficiency.”
Westfield played about as efficiently as possible in the state final at Worcester North High School, dispatching top-seeded North Quincy, 25-22, 25-19, 25-16, to win the program’s fourth state title (first in D2) since 2017.
“It’s the best way you could possibly end,” said Westfield senior Vitaliy Samoylenko, who led the Bombers with 13 kills. “The whole season we pushed to strive to get the goal we were trying to achieve. It’s an awesome feeling.”
Six attackers recorded at least five kills for Westfield (24-1). Senior Cole Davignon tallied 11 kills, junior Nick Maslar and senior Nick Gonzalez each had six, and seniors Mike Collins and Brandon Kingsley had five apiece. Kingsley, Westfield’s setter, also had 40 assists and 11 digs.
“Vitaliy and Cole are going to see the most amount of sets, but Nick Maslar was really good tonight, Mike’s just an outstanding player, and Nick Gonzalez has just come on,” Wingate said. “Just to have all guys going . . . it was really efficient.”
North Quincy (18-2) kicked off the third set on a 3-0 run, but when the Bombers regained the lead at 6-5 on a North Quincy hitting error, they never relinquished it. A 7-0 Westfield run that pushed the Bombers lead to 21-11 gave them their first double-digit lead of the set.
Westfield’s defense also shined — it recorded 10.5 blocks.
“It’s defense before offense,” Samoylenko said. “Any hard swings, any tips, it’s about picking them up and turning them into offense.”
North Quincy, appearing in its first state final in program history, entered the match with 18 consecutive wins after dropping its first match of the regular season. The Raiders graduate just three seniors from this year’s team.
“This was good competition for us to see,” first-year North Quincy coach Megan Johnston said. “We’re young, we have some inexperience, so I think with time, we’ll just get better, and hopefully we’ll see them again.”