Wahconah Volleyball Advances to Sectional Quarter-Final

By Stephen DravisiBerkshires.com Sports
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DALTON, Mass. -- The Wahconah volleyball team’s first-set comeback Thursday night did not allow it to win the set.
But it went a long way toward helping it win the match.
Emma Parkington had 14 kills, and Francesca Gigliotti had 28 assists as seventh-seeded Wahconah (15-6) came from behind to defeat No. 10 Ware (15-6), 24-26, 25-13, 25-12, 25-14, in the first round of the Western Massachusetts Division 3 tournament.
Berkshire County went 2-0 in the first round of the tourney. On the other side of the bracket, No. 9 Mount Greylock (11-9) won at No. 8 Mahar (14-7) to earn the right to face top seed Frontier (12-6) in the quarter-finals.
Wahconah moves on to face No. 2 Lee (17-1), which, like Frontier, had a bye in the first round.
But it was not easy.
Ware jumped out to an 11-5 lead in the first set on service runs by Emma Polak and Jordan Halgas. An ace from the visitors’ Jessica Burke gave them set point at 24-18.
But Wahconah got the ball back and gave it to Jessica Warren, who served five straight points to tie it, 24-24, before Ware righted the ship and closed the set.
Although Ware had a 1-0 lead on the scoreboard, Wahconah had all the momentum it needed to go on to win the next three sets handily.
“I think it definitely helped us because we were down by a lot, and you could see it in our attitudes,” Parkington said. “But all of a sudden, when you come back -- even though we lost -- we knew we were in it.
“I think that totally helped.”
Wahconah coach Dave Lussier agreed.
“That pretty much set up the next set, even though we didn’t get the win in that one,” he said. “We were trailing by five pretty much through that whole set. That was probably some jitters in the beginning -- some passing problems and whatnot. We talked about trying to tighten that up and let the rest of the offense flow with it.
“That’s what happened toward the end of that [first] set. They started playing with a little more confidence. Passes started happening, and we crawled right back into it.”
Warren’s serving made a difference again in the second set, when she served eight straight points, including a couple of aces, to take Wahconah’s lead from 8-6 to 16-6.
“Jessie’s one of our best spot server, so when the JV coach gives her a spot, she almost always hits it,” Parkington said. “It really hurts teams when she does. She gets them out of position, and it throws off their whole plan.”
Parkington had six kills in the second set.
Besides the momentum factor, another key for Wahconah was improved defense after giving up a lot of points to Ware’s attack in the first set..
“Our defense has been working on going back to base and trying to read the ball more,” Parkington said. “I think we just focused on going back to base, which helped us.”
The third was dominated Laiken Cornwell-L’Hote, who registered six of her 13 kills as Wahconah went ahead, two sets to one.
The deciding set turned on service runs by Parkington and LaFreniere. The first, a six-point run, established a 10-6 Wahconah lead. The second took the lead from 17-13 to 24-13 -- the last two on a Cassie Tobler block and a Parkington kill.
Ware got the serve back but immediately committed a service error to end the match and give Wahconah another shot at the Berkshire County North Champion Wildcats, who dealt Wahconah a couple of 3-1 setbacks in the regular season.
“I’m beyond excited, and I know my team is,” Parkington said. “We’re ready.”
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