Before match point in Monday’s North sectional boys’ volleyball final, Winchester coach John Fleming had a request for star senior outside hitter James Chung.
“I said, right before, ‘go get us a kill,’ ” Fleming said.
Chung delivered, slamming a ball down the left side to give the top-seeded Sachems a 3-2 win (25-22, 20-25, 25-14, 30-32, 15-13) over third-seeded Boston Latin at Tewksbury High School, clinching Winchester’s first sectional championship in just its ninth season as a varsity program.
“Especially in that final kill, you just have to jump as high as you can, swing as hard as you can, and honestly, I was just hoping for the best,” said Chung, who finished with 20 kills and 24 digs. “[Setter] John [Bellaire] just put up a ball and you’ve got to hit it.”
Winchester (22-1) had to stave off a fifth-set comeback by Latin (20-4) after dropping a marathon fourth set. Winchester erased a 21-15 Latin lead and tied the score at 24-24. The two teams seesawed, trading points up to 30-30 before Latin closed out the match-tying set on a Winchester hitting error and a Miroslaw Wierzbicki tip kill.
Latin forced its third five-set match of the postseason and Winchester led, 8-5, when the teams switched sides in the fifth set after a Christian Sauer ace.
Junior Bogdan Ivanov led Latin with 27 kills. Senior Andrew Wang had 12 kills and 20 digs in a valiant effort for a program that reached its first-ever sectional final and won its first Dual County League title since 2006.
“I’d say we were pretty evenly matched,” Latin coach Konst Dimov said. “If we play 10 times, I’d say it’s 5-5.”
Winchester will play Central champion Natick next Monday at Westborough High School in the state semifinals.
Division 1 Central
Natick 3, Lincoln-Sudbury 1 — Up 2-1 late in the fourth set, the sixth-seeded Redhawks (16-4) lost three straight points. But, they never lost their composure.
Instead, they watched the 13th-seeded Warriors (13-10) commit a hitting error outside the right sideline during the Redhawks’ match point, giving them a 3-1 victory (25-21, 23-25, 25-23, 25-21) and their third consecutive D1 Central title in Shrewsbury.
“I’ve got only one returning player from last year,” said Natick coach Peter Suxho. “We lost eight seniors last year. So, I call what we did ‘huge’ for our program today. Our team is new, brand new.”
After splitting the first two sets, junior Brendan Carroll (17 kills), junior Will Landry (11 kills), and senior Connor Reardon (13 kills) provided the spark for the Warriors in the third set.
The Redhawks will play the winner of the Westfield-Minnechaug D1 West final in the state semifinals.
Division 1 South
Taunton 1, Marshfield 0 — Sophomore Kelsey White tossed a two-hit shutout and sister, Alexa, a senior, drove home the game’s only run with a two-out, walk-off single in the seventh to lead the second-seeded Tigers (22-2) past the visiting Rams. Taunton will third-seeded Bishop Feehan in the semifinals Thursday night.
“You’re always going to have one game like that in the tournament,” said Taunton coach Dave Lewry. “We didn’t get frustrated, just kept battling. I think that says a lot about the character of the team.”
Kelsey White struck out six and at one point retired 12 straight Rams hitters. Defensively, sophomore second baseman McKenzie McAloon made diving plays in both the second and seventh innings to take away hits. In the fifth, senior third baseman Jaime Brown snared a line drive that would have gone for extra bases.
“You’ve got to play defense at this level,” said Lewry. “It came through for us tonight.”
The 10th-seeded Rams (15-7) were led by stout pitching, with junior Brianna Melchionda (8 strikeouts, 6 hits allowed) overpowering much of the Taunton lineup. Twice, the Tigers had a runner in scoring position with one out, but Melchionda was able to work out the jam.
“She moved the ball around real well,” said Lewry. “She threw the ball up a lot and we couldn’t lay off it. Sometimes you’ve just got to find a way to make it happen.”
Timely hitting from Alexa White was the difference.
“Alexa has a way of doing that,” said Lewry. “She hit the grand slam in the state championship last year, that’s going to take a back seat to tonight.”
Division 1 North
Lowell 3, Boston Latin 0 — Nikki Yrrizarry blasted a solo homer to left-center, sparking the top-seeded Red Raiders (21-1) to the early lead in the North quarterfinal win in Taunton.
Division 1 South
Brookline 5, Wellesley 0 —Mixing power and precision, sophomore Sam Feldman defeated Wellesley freshman Harry Collomb, 6-1, 6-1, at first singles, as the defending state champion Warriors (21-0) advanced to the sectional final against Newton North. Brookline won all five matches in straight sets in defeating Bay State Conference rival Wellesley for the third time this season. When the playoffs started we talked about the race to six, Brookline coach Nick Pero said. If you get to 6-0 after the regular season your state champs again. Today was number three, we’re halfway there.
Division 3 South
Martha’s Vineyard 3, Old Rochester 2 — Max Potter (6-0, 6-1), Eric Reubens (6-1, 6-2), and the doubles team of Owen Favreau and Spencer Pogue (6-1, 6-3) earned wins to lift the second-seeded Vineyarders (19-0) over the third-seeded Bulldogs (18-2) and advance to the D3 South final.
Division 3 West
Lee 4, South Hadley 1 — Singles players Ava Martin, Anne Wang, and Suriana Lee along with the second doubles team of Paige Barry and Cindy Ni, all won in straight sets to give the second-seeded Wildcats (18-0) the Division 3 West championship.
Division 3 North
Weston 3, Manchester Essex 2 — The Wildcats (22-0) finished the season undefeated and completed their winningest season in program history after defeating the Hornets (16-1) to capture the Division 3 North title.Jackie Liu finished the year undefeated with her 6-0, 6-1 victory at second singles.
Mike Kotsopoulos reported from Shrewsbury and Peter Santo from Brookline.