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On a starry night, Carrina Barron carries Tewksbury girls’ volleyball team to state championship

Tewksbury celebrated the program's first state championship with a 26-24, 23-25, 29-27, 25-14 victory over Dennis-Yarmouth for the Division 3 title at Worcester State.Andrew Burke-Stevenson/Andrew Burke-Stevenson for The Boston Globe

WORCESTER — In the first state final appearance for the Tewksbury girls’ volleyball’s team, coach Allison Luppi needed her stars to step up to secure a title.

Senior Carrina Barron and her team answered the call.

Second-seeded Tewksbury won 26-24, 23-25, 29-27, 25-14 in a back-and-forth Division 3 final against top-seeded Dennis-Yarmouth on Friday, using a pivotal third set thriller to turn the tide in its historic run. Barron finished with 28 kills, including several in the third and fourth sets that swung momentum toward her squad.

“Even though my legs were giving out, I fought,” she said. “I fought for these girls; I fought for this team.”


Tewksbury (21-4) took a first-set tug of war, leading 24-21 late before Dennis-Yarmouth (19-6) battled back to tie it. Barron sealed the set with an ace and helped continue the momentum into a 5-0 Tewksbury opening run to start the second set. The Dolphins came right back, however, as Vivian Castano routinely set up Grace Presswood in the far corner for powerful strikes to maintain a fragile control of the second set.

A Presswood-powered surge gave Dennis-Yarmouth a 23-19 lead in the third set. Then Tewksbury mounted a match-defining comeback, coming all the way from the brink and even facing two set-point deficits to win, 29-27, with Mckayla Conley sending back the winning block.

“We had confidence in each other,” Barron said. “We could be down 24 to zero and I’d still have full confidence we’ll come back.”

Then Barron took over, spearheading a 9-1 opening surge in the fourth set that gave Tewksbury all it needed for a state title. The Bryant-bound outside hitter added 28 digs with her 28 kills. Kiley Kennedy finished with 35 assists, Vanessa Green logged 11 kills, and Ava Fernandes contributed 21 digs in the win.


Last year, Tewksbury lost a 3-2 heartbreaker as the top seed against Old Rochester in the Division 3 semifinals. Fernandes said her team was out for redemption.

“I’m so happy to be here with my team,” she said. “We wanted this after we lost in the semis last year. This was our revenge tour, and the revenge tour was completed.”

Presswood finished with 33 kills for the Dolphins in a ferocious last game as a senior, and sophomore Castano added 34 assists. Dennis-Yarmouth has now made back-to-back state finals and lost 3-1 both times.

Luppi remained stoic throughout the contest, even when the Dolphins handed Tewksbury its first set loss of the postseason. Her composure reflected in her players’ collective resilience.

“Being that steady energy, I think, is helpful,” she said. “[It] just models to them [that] you can make mistakes, you can take the biggest swing in the world and get a kill, [but] at some point you have to come back and be steady. That’s just my motto.”

Luppi, a 2012 Tewksbury High graduate, played libero at Eastern Connecticut State and returned to her high school alma mater in 2017. She is at the center of a program that has turned from a struggling team into a champion.

“I just feel like Tewksbury’s my home,” she said. “Being a part of this program really is so much more than just being a head coach.”

Tewksbury senior Carrina Barron (1) bumps the ball during the championship game against Tewksbury at Worcester State University.Andrew Burke-Stevenson/Andrew Burke-Stevenson for The Boston Globe