Perfection: Mounties Close Deal in D5 Title Match

By Stephen Sports
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WORCESTER, Mass. – For the first time in the history of the Mount Greylock Regional School volleyball program, it has a State Championship banner to hang on the wall.
And it comes with a pretty nice second line: 25-0.
The Mounties Saturday earned a 25-22, 25-19, 25-14 win over Bourne in the Division 5 State Championship match to complete a perfect season and wrap up a magnificent career for seven seniors.
Gianna Pesce, Emily Mole, Jamie Sweren, Jacqueline Brannan, Julia DeChaine, Celina Savage and Talia Kapiloff walked off the court at Worcester State University secure in the knowledge that they had beaten all comers after a dominating performance for the team’s 22nd three-set win of the season.
“I’m going to be honest,” Savage said. “In the eighth grade, people looked at my height, people looked at my athleticism, and I was like, “I want to see how far I can go.’ A pipe dream was, ‘We can be state champs.’
“And then we just kept getting better, kept getting better and now we’re here. And it was such a far away goal that I set in eighth or ninth grade … Western Mass was the first thing, then it was, ‘Can we do States?’ And we did it.
“The feeling is unbelievable. I mean, we’re D5 But it’s unbelievable!”
For a couple of Savage’s teammates, the goal has been sitting there even longer.
“I’ve been playing since seventh grade, and we’ve never gotten this far,” Kapiloff said. “Every year, we get a little farther and farther, and I think it’s because I’ve had the same teammates for six years.
“And, also, we worked our butts off this year – working six days a week, every week, no matter what. And it’s been great.”
Kapiloff had the honor of serving out the match after an attack error by Bourne gave the Mounties a side out at 24-14 in the third set.
“Oh my gosh,” she said. “It was unreal. In my head, I was like, ‘Don’t mess up, don’t mess up.’ And you’re not supposed to do that.
“But it was just such an amazing, happy moment, and I was very happy.”
Kapiloff did not “mess up.” Her serve was into Bourne’s back row, and the Canalmen were able to pass it up to the attack, but their swing was into the net, allowing all the Mounties and their fans to explode in celebration.
Top-seeded Mount Greylock jumped out to a big lead in the first set, using a five-point run on DeChaine’s serve to go ahead, 17-10.
One rotation later, Kelsey MacHaffie served three points, the last on a Savage kill, to push the margin to 21-13.
Bourne called timeout and got a side out to regain the serve, and the Canalmen put a dent into that lead with a four-point run from Sofia Halunen to get within a point at 23-22.
But an errant attack gave the Mounties a side out, and Kapiloff served her first set point of the afternoon with a delivery that Bourne could not return.
Mount Greylock got a healthy start to the second set when DeChaine scored five straight points, the last on a block by MacHaffie, to go up, 5-0.
It then gradually built the margin to nine, going ahead 20-11 on a Savage kill.
A couple of big plays at the net late by Brannan pushed the lead to 23-16, and the set eventually ended on a Bourne service error.
The Canalmen matched the Mounties in the early stages of the third set, but another run on DeChaine’s serve, this time for three points, gave Mount Greylock a 15-10 working margin.
Back-to-back kills by DeChaine on Savage’s serve made it 23-13. And after a side out, an attack error by Bourne put the ball in Kapiloff’s hands with a chance to end the match.
Although Savage played like the all-state outside hitter that she is, all of the Mount Greylock attackers were on the mark throughout the match. And junior setter Kylie Sweren was able to put the ball where it needed to be time and time again.
“It’s just amazing, because I feel like I can count on everyone on my team,” Sweren said. “No matter who I set it to, there’s always a shot or a spot. It's a team effort, which I really love.”
And when the long march to perfection was over, you could see the love up and down the Mount Greylock lineup, right up to coach Greg Geyer, who got a little emotional talking about the team’s accomplishments.
“I’ve been with them for six years, all six years I’ve been at Greylock,” Geyer said. “It’s just really special. It’s incredibly special. I’m so happy for them.
“I wanted to see them know that they can work for things and get the reward they deserve. And I’m just so happy for them.”
With the victory, Mount Greylock secured Berkshire County’s first Fall state championship in the so-called “bracket sports” since the advent of the statewide tournament. The county previously won state crowns in boys basketball in the winter (Taconic) and  baseball (Taconic and Mount Greylock) and boys lacrosse (Wahconah) in the spring.
Doing it with a perfect record was a nice bonus.
“I would trade it for three more tough [regular season] matches,” Geyer said. “Maybe we play Bourne or somebody like that. [Division 2 semi-finalist] Longmeadow was just a two-point game in the fifth set. But, yeah.”
“Being undefeated is a double-edged sword. Now, it feels good. … But every other game, we had that extra thing, right? When you’re playing the sport, you want to be in the moment of that play. You don’t want to be thinking, ‘Oh, we’re going to lose our undefeated season or some such thing.”
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