For the fifth time in six years, the Barnstable High girls’ volleyball team is headed to the Division 1 state final.
On Wednesday night, the defending state champion Red Raiders (22-1) registered their 13th consecutive sweep, cruising past North champion Central Catholic (20-3), 25-20, 25-15, and 25-10 in Taunton. Barnstable will play Newton North (22-0) in the D1 state final Saturday night at Shrewsbury High.
“We’re pretty excited to get back to the state championship match,” Barnstable coach Tom Turco said. “This is what we’ve worked all year for, is to get the opportunity to play.”
Despite an array of service errors that kept the Red Raiders from establishing a rhythm early, the team’s ability to finish plays aggressively made the difference.
Central Catholic stuck around, receiving resilient play from senior Emma Geary (7 kills) and classmate Ashlie Dykeman (3 aces).
At the beginning of each set, there were multiple deadlocks and lead changes, but the set always ended the same: the firepower of the Barnstable attack overwhelmed any comeback attempt from Central Catholic.
“We saw them Game 1, Set 1 in the season,” said Turco, referring to the team’s season-opening 3-0 win over Central.
“But, on a big night like tonight, it’s once around. And once you see what they can do, and areas of the court that we think we can attack, that’s when you settle down.”
As the third set came to a close, strong serving and a pair of aces from senior Danielle Derosier helped the Red Raiders finally settle into a groove. Sophomore Riley James (27 kills) tacked on six kills in the final 10-point stretch to close out the victory.
Working in tandem with James, junior Caroline Brodt delivered 31 assists. Sophomore Ingrid Murphy added 17 kills.
Newton North 3, Acton-Boxborough 0 — It took the Tigers just about two sets to get everything ironed out and back in typical, undefeated form.
But by the end of the third set, after a 3-0 sweep of Acton-Boxborough, Newton North was victorious and headed to the Division 1 state championship, with a perfect 22-0 record still intact.
“All in all, we played quite a steady match, and you saw glimpses of what we do look like when we are playing really well on offense or defense or serve-receive or serving,” Newton North coach Richard Barton said. “And at some indeterminate time, it all happens in the same game at the same time.”
The Tigers will hope that time is Saturday night at Shrewsbury High, where they take on Barnstable (22-1) once again for the state championship.
Newton North handed Barnstable its only loss of the year, 3-2, winning the deciding fifth set, 15-13, in a late September matchup.
Hopkinton 3, Amherst 1 — With her squad leading 24-23 in the fourth set on Tuesday night at Holyoke Community College, Hopkinton head coach Margie Grabmeier called a timeout.
The Hillers (21-2) were one point away from advancing to Saturday’s state final at Shrewsbury High against Notre Dame of Hingham.
“I said, ‘whoever wins the next point wins the match,’” said Grabmeier. “And I believed that, if we had lost that point, with the momentum changes in this game, Amherst could’ve gone ahead.”
Following the break, the Hillers returned to the court, and senior Julia Canestrari (11 kills) launched the winning spike over the net to lead the Hillers over the Hurricanes, 4-1.
In the fourth set, the Hurricanes (23-1) held an 18-17 lead before Hopkinton rattled off three straight points to jump ahead 20-18.
Amherst responded with three points of its own for a 21-20 lead.
“Coach Grabmeier always tells us to stay modest the whole time,” Canestrari said in regards to the back-and-forth ending. “We’re always ready for it.”
Hopkinton battled out to a 24-21 lead. Amherst then put up two more points before Grabmeier called the timeout.
“The tight sets were really great, but the passers can really pass it, and it’s awesome,” Canestrari said. Senior Courtney Hassan (11 assists) and freshman Peyton Mellor (10 assists) kept the ball moving the entire night, and put their teammates in good spots to make kills.
The Hillers (21-2) jumped out to a 2-0 set lead, but the Hurricanes (23-1) were able to grab the third set, 25-17. A back-and-forth fourth set saw seven lead changes before Hopkinton prevailed.Correspondent Shawn McFarland contributed to this story from Holyoke.