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    Girls’ volleyball championships: Newton North is deep, talented, and Division 1 champs

     Newton North rallies as they take the lead in game 1 against Hopkinton. Mark Lorenz for the Boston Globe.
    Mark Lorenz for the Globe
    Newton North regrouped to take the lead in Game 1 against Hopkinton.

    WORCESTER — For many other teams, losing a senior captain and an All-Scholastic with the talent of Miska Legatova to an injury in the first set would have been a blow to its state championship aspirations, but not for the Newton North girls’ volleyball team.

    The Tigers showed their depth on the way to a 25-21, 25-19, 25-23 sweep of Hopkinton to win the Division 1 state title Saturday night at Worcester State.

    “We’ve all worked so hard and I’m so grateful that every day at practice we have everyone playing,” said Legatova. “I’m lucky that we had people to come in and just replace us and keep fighting on. I’m so proud of the younger ones because we’re a very young team. I’m happy for everyone and I’m so proud.”


    Legatova stayed on the floor with a left leg injury early in the first set. She tried to return to start the third, but the pain proved too much and she had to watch her team from the sideline. And she was treated to a show. The Tigers (20-1) played a very clean game, staving off numerous late comeback attempts in each set by the Hillers (22-3) to earn their first state title since 2014. Hopkinton survived six consecutive set points in the first frame, but couldn’t dig themselves out of a 24-15 hole.

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    Ashley Wang (13 kills, 11 digs, 9 assists, 5 blocks) was dominant once again, and Julia Lanfear (14 digs, 5 kills), Chelsea Simmons (18 assists) and Liisa Halloran (7 kills) filled the void.

    Rachel Zale (9 kills, 6 assists), Jess Mellor (32 serve receives, 12 digs) and Amanda Gilbert (8 kills) kept the Hillers in each set, but couldn’t mount the comeback.

    “We’ve been playing many different lineups all year,” said Newton North coach Richard Barton. “They know they’re good. We have players on our bench who can go in who would be starting for most teams. We’re really happy.”

    Newton North players got to raise a trophy — and their voices — after winning a state title.
    mark Lorenz for the Globe
    Newton North players got to raise a trophy — and their voices — after winning a state title.

    Liisa Halloran delivered a shot that Hopkinton's Rachel Sale tried to block.
    Mark Lorenz for the Globe
    Liisa Halloran delivered a shot that Hopkinton's Rachel Sale tried to block.

    Ashley Wang set up a teammate against Hopkinton.
    Mark Lorenz for the Globe
    Newton North’s Ashley Wang set up a teammate against Hopkinton.

    Hopkinton celebrated after scoring against Newton North.
    Mark Lorenz for The Globe
    Hopkinton celebrated after scoring against Newton North.

    Division 2

    Westborough 3, Melrose 2 — Down, 2-0, heading into the third set, the Rangers had their opponent right where they wanted them.


    The Central champs completed their second consecutive improbable comeback, rallying from two sets down in the Division 2 state final to win a five-set thriller over Melrose, 17-25, 15-25, 25-13, 25-14, 15-6, at Worcester State.

    “For these girls to have this opportunity and bring it home, I’m just really proud of them,” said Westborough coach Roger Anderson, whose Rangers won their first state title since 2007.

    “It’s just who we are, I guess. We don’t come out clean. We sometimes get on you early, but this team knows how to close.”

    The North champion Red Raiders (24-3) came out strong, forcing Westborough into numerous uncharacteristic errors in the first two sets to grab a 2-0 lead. But the Rangers (21-2) are not new to facing a deficit, having just crawled back from 2-0 down to defeat Duxbury in the state semifinals on Wednesday. The Rangers used a 10-1 run to close out the third set and a 13-3 surge to end the fourth and force a decisive fifth frame.

    “We carried momentum Games 1 and 2,” said Melrose coach Scott Celli. “I thought we had a great game plan against them. Took away their first pass. Just in Games 3 and 4, we just couldn’t block anything they had. They just dictated all the points.”


    The Rangers grabbed an early 4-3 lead in the fifth and never looked back.

    Senior setter Emma Smallcomb tallied 39 assists and 6 kills, and Alexia Austin (16 kills, 5 aces) and Kristen Steudel (6 aces) were also dominant for the Rangers.

    Sophomore Emma Randolph (17 kills) and seniors Lily Fitzgerald (29 assists) and Saoirse Connolly (9 kills) led the Red Raiders.

    Division 3

    Frontier 3, Bourne 0 — The Red Hawks (17-6) swept the Canalmen, 25-11, 25-21, 25-15, for their seventh championship in eight years.

    “All these guys were sophomores and freshmen in 2015,” said Frontier coach Sean MacDonald. “It’s really special because they were on those [state championship] teams cheering on the bench, and now they’re on the floor. I get old, but this doesn’t get old because I get to see the joy.”

    After the teams traded points to open the first set, Frontier picked up 21 of the last 27 points to take a 1-0 lead. The Canalmen (25-3) made it tough in a tight second set, but the Red Hawks took their first lead, 21-20, and never looked back. Bourne took the first point of the third set on an ace, but Frontier never trailed the rest of the way to complete the sweep.

    “I think the moment got the better of us,” said Bourne coach Andy Mather. “We’re teenage girls, but I’m proud of just the way they handled it with class at the end. It’s not too bad to finish here. We’ll be back here.”

    Senior setter Ella Deane led the Red Hawks with 28 assists and three aces. Lauren Davenport (13 kills, 3 aces), Selayna Bathurst (11 kills, 9 digs) and Brianna Thurber (10 digs) were also key contributors. Seniors Leah Hidenfelter (27 digs) and Alyson Hickey (21 assists) paced Bourne.

    Dan McLoone can be reached at dan.mcloone@globe.com.