Mount Greylock Wins Second Straight Western Mass Crown
WEST SPRINGFIELD, Mass. -- It was only fitting that Mount Greylock's Kelsey MacHaffie got to serve out Saturday's Western Massachusetts Class C Championship game.
Her serves were a big reason the Mounties got to that point.
MacHaffie served six aces, and Celina Savage delivered 27 kills to lead Mount Greylock to its second straight regional title with a 20-25, 25-10, 25-15, 25-8 win over Lenox at West Springfield High School.
Savage was dominant from the second set on and -- also fittingly -- ended the match with kill No. 27.
But on a day when Greg Geyer said his team started the match looking "tired," MacHaffie provided a big wakeup call early in the second set.
She took the ball with the set tied, 1-1, and served 10 straight points to put the Mounties' first-set loss in the rear view mirror and send them on their way to victory.
In the match, MacHaffie served eight times and won at least a point each time -- 24 points in all -- to help her team pull away and stay undefeated this season.
"Everybody knows she's our first or second server, and she has probably five or six different serves that she's using," Geyer said of MacHaffie. "Today, we didn't do spot serving. We just let the players go for their shots and make their own decisions. And that really worked out.
"It's really hard when she and Kyle [Sweren] are on and Celina's in the front row. It's a really hard combination for for opponents."
Savage praised MacHaffie's performance at the service line.
"Unbelievable, huge," Savage said. "She's been huge this entire season. That's probably one of our strongest points as a team: her serve and Kylie's serve. If you look at our stats, that's what makes most of our points. It's been vital. Incredible."
Mount Greylock (20-0) learns on Monday when it will begin play in the Division 5 State Tournament as it looks to improve on last fall's state runner-up finish.
Lenox also is heading to the state tournament and will do so with some positives to take away from Saturday's match and, generally, the Western Mass tournament, where the Millionaires avenged two regular season losses with a win over Easthampton in the semi-finals and surprised the odds-on favorite with a fast start on Saturday.
"We started off with a bang," Lenox coach Steve Laurin said. "We loved it. We loved that we had the momentum in that first game. The girls were just stoked to be there on the court and scrapping, scrapping up balls.
"They were on fire. I was really proud of them. I am really proud of them, period."
And Lenox will have some lessons learned going into the next phase of the post-season.
"When we get back to practice on Monday, we'll continue to work on our serve receive," Laurin said. We'll be working on emergency situations, like, 'What if the ball goes into the net? What if we overpass into the net? Can we get our blockers up there a little bit sooner to take on any big hitters?
"So we will work more on emergency situations as well. We're hoping for more challenging matches just like this and better when we go to states."
Kelsey Kirchner had five kills, and Hailey Armold had four Lenox. Armold also had three aces, and Etta Schnackenberg passed out 11 assists.
Armold had a big service run early in the first set, winning six points on her serve to give Lenox a 7-2 lead it never relinquished.
The Mounties cut into that five-point deficit late when Talia Kapiloff served three straight points -- the last on a kill by Jackie Brannan (eight kills) to get to 19-18.
But Lenox won the next point on a free ball and got three points on Emily Barenski's serve to re-establish its advantage.
Savage wasn't sure why Mount Greylock dropped just its fourth set of the year to open the title match.
"First set, we came in, and I don't even know what was going on," she said. "We weren't talking. We weren't playing our game. I think we really needed to get in there and make a statement."
After MacHaffie's big run to start the second set, Sweren (six aces) served four points to push the margin to 16-4, and Lenox never got back within single digits the rest of the way.
The third set was more competitive, but a four-point run on Savage's serve and a three-point run for MacHaffie pushed the lead to 18-11. A Savage kill gave Mount Greylock a double-digit lead at 21-11, and a Julia DeChaine kill ended the set.
Any hopes of a Lenox comeback in the fourth set were dashed when Kapiloff served five points midway through to open a commanding 17-4 lead.
MacHaffie served the final three points of the match -- all on kills by Savage.
On the kill that gave Mount Greylock match point, there was a sobering moment when Lenox libero Anna Nealon hit the deck hard going for a dig. After a visit from her coach, she stayed on the floor for the last point.
And after the match, several of the Mount Greylock players went over to check on their friend.
"A lot of us play club together, and we see each other as friends when we hang out, when we play volleyball, when we see each other every season," Savage said. "Seeing a player get hurt, that's horrible. But apart from the general sportsmanship, we're in the same county. We're friends. We play each other often. We know each other very well.
"I just think it makes it a little more fun."
Laurin wasn't surprised to see the show of concern from the Mounties.
"They all play AVA ball with Greg [Geyer]," he said. "All these kids, they grew up together because it's almost like it's a big family. Volleyball is a big family.
"That's one of the things I love about the game is seeing them get along so well with each other. You don't have to be unsportsmanlike. ... They all know why we're all here. It's because we love the game."