TAUNTON — Rather quietly, the Taunton boys’ volleyball team has put together an unbeaten season.
After polishing off an 18-0 regular season and a first-round sweep of Brookline, the Tigers entered their South semifinal matchup against fifth-seeded Newton South with many focusing on three of last year’s state semifinalists: Needham, Natick, and Westfield.
But with Needham coaches and players in attendance scouting their next foe Tuesday night, the Tigers reminded everyone that they are a major threat to make a title run, too, sweeping Newton South, 25-23, 25-19, 25-20.
“It feels good because I walked in knowing they’re a great team, have great hitters,” said Taunton’s Lance Law, a senior outside hitter.
“I just felt confident in my team because I just feel like we have so much athleticism that it’s impossible to get blocks sometimes.”
Law finished with a team-high 11 kills, along with 8 digs and 2 blocks. Fellow seniors Lens Esquil (9 kills, 3 blocks), Malik Charles (9 kills, 2 blocks), and Ricardo DaFonseca (19 assists, 4 digs) rounded out the attack as the Tigers (20-0) consistently held off Newton South. Taunton dictated the tempo, leading for most of the first two sets and stifling runs the Lions made. Taunton trailed by as 6 points in the third set before using a 10-5 closing run to complete the sweep.
Mark Khrapko (15 kills) and Felix Hsieh (17 assists, 7 kills) led the way for the Lions (16-5), but it wasn’t enough to get them over the hump.
The Tigers play Needham (22-1), the defending South champions, on Thursday night at Newton South in the sectional final.
“Needham is a great team, we know that,” said Taunton coach Toby Chaperon. “They’re well coached, they’ve got great players, but it’s going to be a battle. I think it’s going to be a great matchup. Two of the top teams in the state.
“Obviously, our accomplishment, we’ve never done that before, made it to the South sectional finals. We’re very happy that we made it. That’s another steppingstone, but the journey is still going and we’ve got to just keep plugging away.”Dan McLoone can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.