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Newton North boys’ volleyball puts depth and dominance on display while delivering upset of No. 2 Lowell in Division 1 quarterfinals

Newton North's Adam Christianson (12) dominated the net with 17 kills and a pair of blocks.Greg M. Cooper/Globe

It’s all coming together at the right time for the Newton North boys’ volleyball team.

The seventh-seeded Tigers came out strong from the start and never let up in a 3-0 victory over No. 2 Lowell at the Riddick Athletic Center in Lowell. With game scores of 25-20, 25-16, 25-18, it was a show of dominance and depth.

In a game that he said was his team’s best passing performance of the season, senior Tyler Randall put down the final point to put Newton North (17-6) in the state semifinals for the first time since 2019. There, the Tigers will face 11th-seeded Brookline (15-6), which knocked off No. 3 Natick, 3-0, in the quarterfinals.


“It was amazing,” Randall said. “Team played great throughout the game, and to have it culminate with that was pretty cool.”

Sophomore Simon Vardeh mashed 11 kills with a block, classmate Paul Nelson notched five kills, and junior Sam Huang rose for seven kills and three blocks. But it was junior Adam Christianson lowering the boom for 17 kills and a pair of blocks that made the Tigers’ presence felt.

“It feels awesome,” Christianson said. “Even throughout the year, I felt like there were some bigger moments where I felt like I underperformed and wasn’t able to show what I could do. [Today] I showed out. People know my name.”

Huang, helping Newton North reach the semifinals for the first time since his brother Nathan was part of the team four years ago, has been a big presence at the net.

“Getting a big block when you already have the momentum swinging in your direction, it’s unlike any feeling ever in volleyball because you realize they can’t do anything against you,” Huang said. “You stop them, they can’t do anything.”

After leading the girls’ volleyball team to a state title in the fall, coach Nile Fox has won eight playoff games in a row. The boys’ team has demonstrated a similar kind of depth and dominance that led the girls’ team to their championship.


Newton North's Paul Nelson (4) attempts a spike against Lowell's Tyrell Lout.Greg M. Cooper/Globe

“We really came out strong,” Fox said. “[We] came out and really showed why we are one of the top teams in the state. They played their best.”

Injuries have been an issue the past two seasons for the Tigers, but they’re healthy now and showing their potential. The first set in the last match against Winchester and Friday’s sweep of Lowell (21-2), Fox said, are the team’s best performances of the season.

“It’s really cool to see what it looks like when we have everybody on the roster healthy,” Fox said. “We’re ready to keep competing. This feels good, but we’re not OK with it, we want to keep going.”

Lowell's Cody Fitzpatrick (left) attempts to block a shot by Newton North's Simon Vardeh.Greg M. Cooper/Globe

Division 1 State

Brookline 3, Natick 0 — After being swept in both regular season matchups against third-seeded Natick, the No. 11 Warriors returned the favor to their Bay State rival, 25-23, 26-24, 25-15 to advance to the semifinals. Senior captain Cam Jilek led with 15 kills for Brookline (15-6), and freshman captain Alec Smagula amassed 30 assists, 7 kills, and 8 digs.

“We didn’t let [the two losses to Natick] bother us, we knew we could compete with them,” Smagula said. “We knew this was our time to shine and we definitely proved ourselves.”

Senior captain Charlie Perdue (9 kills), sophomore Kristaps Vaivars (6 kills), and freshman Amir Tomer (9 digs) were key to the road victory.


“Going into the season, we knew we had a lot of potential. We also knew that people were doubting us,” Smagula said. “We used that as motivation. We knew we had to peak during playoffs.”

Needham 3, Cambridge 1 — The top-seeded Rockets (25-0) reeled off their 72nd straight victory, cruising past No. 8 Cambridge (15-7) in a quarterfinal, 25-16, 23-25, 25-15, 25-16. Needham will play No. 4 Saint John’s in a state semifinal Tuesday at Concord-Carlisle (6 p.m.)

Boston Globe Today: Sports | June 9, 2023
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