All the way to the championship point, with junior middle hitter Addison Pillis delivering a powerful kill to the back corner of the court in the clinching fifth-set win over second-seeded Bellingham, the Ipswich girls’ volleyball team remained energized.
The result was a marathon 27-25, 21-25, 25-27, 25-16, 15-9 victory for the No. 1 Tigers at Worcester State and the program’s third straight Division 4 championship.
“Energy is the key to our success on this team,” said Pillis who finished a set from Alexandra Marino on the winner. And that energy was all over the court — Pillis posted five kills and five blocks, and junior outside hitter Claire Buletza recorded eight kills.
“It’s been awesome that we’ve been able to keep the momentum after these three years,” junior outside hitter Claire Buletza said. “We’ve only dropped like five sets total, which is crazy and big props to Bellingham, because I know that they’re a young team, and they worked really, really hard today. I’m just super excited, especially for the whole team, everyone gets a big win today.”
Senior Ella Stein (5 kills) was crucial to the Tigers’ energy and offense.
“Whenever we lost a point, we came in the middle and we made sure to forget about it and move onto the next play. We didn’t dwell on our mistakes,” Stein said of the back-and-forth nature of the sets.
The second and third proved troublesome for the Tigers, who had only dropped two sets all season, but they were able to turn it around. Those early sets were huge for Bellingham, whose power came from two freshmen, outside Mia Milani (18 kills) and libero Sophia Soto.
“Sometimes when [they’re] the defending state champs and you’re the young kids who shouldn’t be here, that comes out a little bit. The kids played great. I didn’t expect to go five,” Bellingham coach Steve Mantegani said.
Ipswich coach Staci Lawrence recorded her third straight championship Saturday as well, and explained how much of a team effort it really is to get there:
The key, said Ipswich coach Staci Lawrence, is “we were able to go and do those things and get into a rhythm, they feed off each other, right? They appreciate and respect one another. So they’re not upset that somebody else is getting the kills. It’s a family,” Lawrence said of her girls.
Division 2 State
Westborough 3, Canton 0 — In her high school finale with her father, Roger, as coach, Quinn Anderson slammed 19 kills and added 10 digs as the top-seeded Rangers (21-1) earned the 25-15, 25-13, 25-23 victory for their fourth title as a program.
“I’m just really proud and really grateful,” Anderson, who will attend Stony Brook. “It’s so special that I’ve gotten this opportunity with [my father] and with the whole team. I mean, this has been my dream since [I was] a child and we did it, and I’m just so proud of every single one of us.”
Added Roger: “I’m so blessed and lucky. It’s just a gift to have that opportunity to do this kind of thing together with your kid.”
Junior setter Sam Norman, who joined the team this year after moving from Hopkinton, distributed 39 assists, showing great accuracy and chemistry with her hitters.
“I felt right at home once I got here because everyone is so welcoming,” Norman said. “The community is so supportive. It’s one big happy family like we all love each other. We all get along.”
Senior Addison Moore added 11 digs, junior Georgia Tyrrell smacked nine kills, and senior Annabelle Semeter added six kills and a block.
“It’s honestly been so surreal,” said Semeter, who returned from a hand injury a few games ago. “We make sure when we’re pushing each other, we still know that we love each other. So we’re able to still be stronger as a team when we’re fighting to get better.”
Canton, the third seed, finished the best season in program history at 24-1.
“There’s been a bunch of firsts in our program this year, and the kids are great,” coach Pat Cawley said. “They were easy to work with, even yesterday they wanted to be working on stuff that was new… I love these kids.”
Division 5 State
Mt. Greylock 3, Bourne 0 — As an eighth-grader, Celina Savage considered being a volleyball state champion a “pipe dream.”
Saturday, it became reality.
The senior tallied 10 kills, an ace and a block to lead the top-seeded Mounties (21-0) to a 25-22, 25-19, 25-14 win at Worcester State.
“They’re just the hardest-working group of young women, and I feel privileged to be with them,” coach Greg Geyer said.
Second-seeded Bourne, featuring six sophomores, finished 19-6.
AJ Traub can be reached at email@example.com.