‘Powerhouse’ Westfield tops Natick to capture three-peat D1 state title
WORCESTER — When faced with its toughest challenge of the season, the Natick boys’ volleyball team came up short of accomplishing its ultimate goal.
The Redhawks fell to Westfield — now winner of the last three state championships — 21-25, 21-25, 13-25 in the Division 1 state final Thursday night at Worcester State University.
“They had three or four [hitters] who could put the ball down whenever they wanted, a great setter, obviously great coaching if they’ve now won three straight,” Natick senior Connor Reardon said. “They were a powerhouse.”
Natick (17-5) which overcame an 0-2 deficit Monday against Winchester to reach the state final, couldn’t repeat the feat, succumbing to a Westfield (22-3) program that has won 16 consecutive postseason sets dating back to the 2018 state final and 15 straight playoff matches over the last three seasons. The Redhawks held leads midway through the first and second sets. A Westfield block erased a 13-12 first-set lead and the Redhawks led 16-15 in the second after a Connor Reardon kill, but a kill from Westfield’s R.J. Piper sparked a 7-2 Bomber run to goin up 22-18.
James Payluk led Westfield with 18 kills, but Westfield balanced its offense with nine kills from Ethan Flaherty, five from Riley Rix and Eric Yurtuc, and four from Riley Coughlin.
Natick, in the first and second sets, were down 24-19 and held off match point with a two-point run each time before Westfield closed them out.
“We played well in the first [set] and the second [set],” Natick coach Peter Suxho said. “They were a better serving team, we weren’t able to receive well and if you’re not receiving well, you get punished.”
Natick stayed within striking distance in the third set, trailing 13-8 before a 6-2 Westfield run put the match out of reach.
Brendan Carroll led Natick with nine kills and Reardon had eight. Sam Waltzman anchored the defense with 19 digs.