LaBier Leads Wahconah Past Lee

By Stephen Sports
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LEE, Mass. – As if trying to maintain a perfect season was not enough of a challenge, the Wahconah volleyball team Monday tried to stay unbeaten by completing a rare sweep of perennial power Lee.
And then, to add to the degree of difficulty, Wahconah lost one of its starters to injury in the second set.
But the Wahconah train kept on rolling with a three-set win for a 12-0 record.
“Our team is really close,” McKenzie LaBier said. “So when [Brenna Robert] left, and she told us, ‘You better win,’ when she walked out, we said, ‘Let’s do it for Bre,’ and that’s how we got it together.”
That and a whole lot of offense from LaBier, who took control of the match in the second set as Wahconah earned a 25-22, 25-18, 25-15 win just five days after surviving a five-setter against the Wildcats in Dalton.
Wahconah’s middle hitter compiled 13 hits and nine blocks in a dominant performance for a team that started the week ranked ninth in the commonwealth in Division 4.
“Any time a player can take over a match, it’s great for the coach, great for the player,” Wahconah coach Dave Lussier said of LaBier. “I really feel as though she was in the zone tonight, and she was getting to be almost unstoppable.”
The senior co-captain said she felt good going into the match, which was a little different than the last time out against Lee.
“I was definitely on my game tonight,” LaBier said. “Everything was flowing nicely. The last time we played Lee, I had a cold. So I wanted to come back and show them I’m not that player. I’m this player.”
The first set was a back-and-forth affair with the Wildcats leading as late as 17-16 after a tip by Makayla Beckwith to earn a sideout.
But a service error gave the ball to Wahconah’s Katelyn McCormack, who served two points to give her team an edge it never lost.
Wahconah got a little breathing room on Jenna Bird’s serve. LaBier recorded a kill and a block on back-to-back points to push the lead to 22-19. And a couple of sideouts later, LaBier’s block on Wahconah’s second set point gave it a 1-0 lead.
Lee led early in set two, but Sasha Fyfe (four aces) served four straight points in the middle of the set to give Wahconah a 16-11 lead. LaBier had a couple of kills during that run.
Hannah Friedman (two aces) served a couple of points to push the lead to 21-15, and McCormack’s kill gave Wahconah a set point at 24-17.
“Their offense and also their service pressure is substantial,” Lee coach Julia Warner said. “It’s something we weren’t able to pass out of, especially as they gained momentum and served harder and we lost momentum and it became more difficult for us to serve receive.
“Wahconah’s a great team, and it wasn’t our night. But they gave it what they had. We learn from our losses more than we learn from our wins, so we’ll take this as a big learning opportunity.”
Autumn Schwab led Lee with 20 digs. Makayla Schuerer and Karylynn Hopkins had 16 and 14 digs, respectively. Hopkins had a team-high eight kills, and Schuerer passed out nine assists.
Wahconah took control of the third set early with a pair of points on Bird’s serve to make it 3-1, and the lead never changed hands from there. A five-point run on Fyfe’s serve opened up a nine-point margin, and Lee never got closer than six points the rest of the way.
Wahconah goes to Franklin Tech on Tuesday. Lee hosts Chicopee Comp on Wednesday. 
Video: Wahconah’s McKenzie LaBier talks about the challenge of beating Lee for the second time this season.
Video: Wahconah’s McKenzie LaBier gets a block to help her team stay unbeaten with a win at Lee on Monday.
Video: Wahconah’s McKenzie LaBier puts away a point against Lee in Monday’s win.
Video: Juliana Schuerer gets a kill for Lee in Monday’s loss to Wahconah.
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