Wahconah Comes Back to Win Five-Setter at Lee

By Stephen DravisiBerkshires.com Sports
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LEE, Mass. – After dropping the first two sets on the road on Monday night, the Wahconah volleyball team made some adjustments.
The biggest, perhaps, was attitude.
“I think our communication was really up, and we started playing with a lot of confidence, and we had faith in our teammates,” Wahconah senior Olivia Mason said after a 19-25, 21-25, 25-11, 25-22, 15-11 win over Lee. “And we really started being aggressive instead of being cautious with our hits, and I think that helped us.”
A little strategy did not hurt.
“And we were starting to tip, getting the defense to shift,” Mason said. “That opened up line shots and really got us more kills, which boosted the team’s confidence and got us going.”
Mason was credited with a team-high 11 kills to go with a team-high seven aces as Wahocnah won its sixth straight match and improved to 6-1 this fall.
Coach Dave Lussier credited Mason with keying the team’s more aggressive approach after falling behind.
“She started finding spots, openings,” Lussier said. “The stat sheet probably isn’t going to tell you how many kills she really got tonight.”
Lee (3-2) pulled away in the first set with an eight-point run on the serve of Kayla Clark, who took over with her team up, 16-15, and did not give up the serve until the Wildcats had a set point.
Just one point separated the teams late in the second, when Karalynn Hopkins (14 kills, 12 digs) delivered a kill for a sideout at 22-20 and then served the next two points, getting a kill from Alexis Masten (12 kills, nine digs) to get set point.
Mya Andre’s kill two points later gave Lee a 2-0 lead in the match.
Then, things went south for the South County volleyball power.
“We were able to stay in system in the first and second set, which forced Wahconah out of system, and they weren’t able to generate any offense,” Lee coach Julia Warner said. “In our third set, we made a lot of errors early on and then got pretty tense.
“We were able to shake that in the fourth and fifth sets, but we weren’t able to pull it out in the end. We ended up making a few too many errors on our end, and Wahconah was in system a lot more and able to hit a more than we were.”
Three quick points on Mason’s serve early in the third set gave Wahconah a 4-2 advantage, and it pulled away two rotations later when Eva Jacinto served five points in a row to give her team a 16-5 lead.
An Amelia Sturtz block gave Wahconah the 11-point lead, the biggest for either team to that point in the match.
“I feel my defense is doing very, very well,” Lussier said. “Upping our offense is a goal which they were doing pretty well today. They were playing at the net well.
“Defensively, we played well at the net, too. Middles never get a lot of credit, but they do a lot of work up there. Defensively, they move how the hitters from the other side are targeting the court, and they did great job sealing a lot of [Lee’s] opportunities.”
Jacinto finished with two blocks to go with five kills in the win.
After winning the third set by 14 points to get back into the match, Wachonah found itself back in a dogfight to stay alive in the match in the fourth.
Lee’s Juliana Schuerer (30 assists, 14 digs, three kills, two blocks) had an ace and got a kill from Masten to give her team a 14-11 lead.
But Wahconah got the serve back and gave the ball to Mason, who served five points to give her team a 17-14 lead it never relinquished.
Lee got within a point with Schuerer’s ace to get to 23-22, but Wahconah’s Katelyn McCormack got a tip at the net to give her team a set point, and Mason served out the set to force a fifth.
Four points on Jacinto’s serve gave Wahconah an 11-6 lead in the first-to-15 tie-breaker.
Mason put away two points in that run and had kills at 12-7, 13-8, 14-8 and match point to secure the win.
“Genuinely, I just really wanted to make my team proud, and I knew that once I got a few under my belt, I can get the confidence, and I can swing harder,” Mason said. “And once the defense shifted, I really like the line shot, so that opened up for me.
“The more kills I get, the more confidence I get, and I swing, and I’m not cautious.”
Lussier was happy his team did not get too cautious after staving off elimination in the third set.
“I think they built a lot of confidence in that third set, and I was afraid of it not carrying over into the fourth because it’s very easy for a good team like Lee to be able to come out of a lopsided set like that and come in strong and then we have the letdown,” Lussier said. “I’m proud of them that they kept the momentum up and pushed us to the fifth set.”
Wahconah is home on Wednesday against Chicopee Comprehensive. Lee hosts Pittsfield on Wednesday.
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