Lee Returns to Western Mass Final

By Stephen DravisiBerkshires.com Sports
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LEE, Mass. -- Suriana Lee made her mark on the Lee High volleyball program by earning her 1,000th career assist seven games into her senior season.
On Wednesday, she made one of her biggest contributions on the service line.
Lee served 10 straight points late in the third set to turn a three-point deficit into a seven-point lead as the Wildcats earned a four-set, come-from-behind win over Mount Greylock.
Lee also had 21 assists and 12 kills in the 21-25, 25-20, 25-16, 25-18 win to propel top-seeded Lee (18-2) into Saturday’s Western Massachusetts Division 3 final against defending champion and second-seeded Frontier (12-8), a three-set winner over Lenox on Wednesday night.
The pivotal run helped Lee take a 2-1 lead in the match after dropping the first set. It started with a kill by Erin Brisebois and ended with a missed Mount Greylock attack to put Lee up, 22-15.
“We got off to a rough start [in the match], but I think it’s all about consistency,” Lee said. “We need to keep that momentum. We need to keep our heads in the game.”
It was the longest service run for either side in a highly competitive third meeting between the two squads.
“I think it was more of an advantage because we knew what was coming at us,” Lee said of the postseason meeting against a Berkshire County North Division rival. “It was a little bit of a disadvantage because they know what our weaknesses are, too. So it’s a battle. There’s a lot of pros and cons to it. But overall, you have to come in like it’s a new team. You can’t really think about what’s in the past.”
Wildcats coach Julia Warner said that Lee helps set the tone for the squad. And her performance in the third set helped settle Lee after a rough beginning to the match.
“Suri is a huge leader, emotionally and as a player with her skills,” Warner said. “She brings a lot of positivity to the floor. I think her leadership has been throughout many years. She’s always been a leader in one way or another.
“Being able to go on a little bit of a run allowed us to loosen up a little bit, take a full breath. We were able to feel a little more comfortable with our play. And we always play a lot better when we’re having fun. So we were able to do that more and have a little bit of a comfortable cushion to work with.”
The fifth-seeded Mounties (15-7) and the large contingent of fans who made the trek down from Williamstown were having fun early.
Three straight points on the serve of freshman Lainey Gill, capped by a kill from captain Lucy Shepard (four kills, three aces) gave Mount Greylock a little bit of a cushion at 19-14 in the first set.
Neither side could win a point on its serve for the next eight rotations before a tip at the net by Aliyah Noel allowed Lenox to trim Mount Greylock’s lead to 23-20. But a service error gave Mount Greylock a side out, and two rotations later, it put away the set to go up, 1-0.
Each side had its share of service runs in the second set. Mount Greylock’s Alyssa Phelps had a couple of aces in a four-point run to take a 16-15 lead.
But Lee’s Lizzy Brown (10 kills, 10 digs) answered with three straight points on her serve.
Moments later, Shepard served up an ace to tie the set at 20-20. But after a Lee timeout, the Wildcats won the next five points — four on the Noel’s serve — to even the match, 1-1.
After battling the Wildcats through a series of long rallies over the first two sets and coming up dead even, Mount Greylock struggled to get its attack going the rest of the way.
“We did not push them back with our offense here and there as much as we wanted,” Mount Greylock coach Greg Geyer said. “And they brought it back at us. We’d get it up, and they brought it back at us again. Every once in a while, we’d terminate. Takeira [Darrow, seven kills] had amazing hits, really amazing hits. But hats off to them.
“The two outsides, Lizzy and Kylie [Joyce, 13 kills] — we had to change things just to deal with them. They kept coming at us. And we were bringing it up. But we couldn’t turn it into offense except once in a while.”
Phelps had four digs for the Mounties. Shepard and Darrow had three digs apiece.
Lee got 19 digs from libero Rachel Wendling.
After Briesbois’ tip at the net put away the third set at 25-16, Lee jumped out to an early 6-3 lead on Brown’s serve in the fourth.
Mount Greylock kept battling, though, getting an ace from Emma Hayward and a Darrow kill in a three-point run to make it 11-8.
Emma Puleri served five straight points to bring Lee from behind and take a 15-13 lead that it never relinquished. Brown recorded an ace to start a four-point run that brought match point into view at 22-15, and six points later, the match and the Mounties’ season was over.
“Every girl on this team is playing a different position than what they played last year,” Geyer said. “Everything is new because we had those eight seniors. To go this far and play this well, I’m just so proud of them.
“I am so proud of the captains, the seniors, the whole team. We had eighth-graders out there at one time. So I’m just really, really impressed.”
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