Lee Volleyball Advances to Western Mass Final
LEE, Mass. -- Lee freshman Bailey Thomas helped lead her team to a comeback win in the fourth set that sealed a 3-1 win over Mount Greylock in the semifinals of the Western Mass Division 3 tournament.
After the Wildcats took the first two sets, the third-seeded Mounties came back to take the third and led most of the fourth.
Lee trailed, 14-8, in the fourth set. After taking a timeout, the 'Cats came back out and went on 6-0 run to tie it at 15. From there, there were seven ties and seven lead changes.
The home team went ahead to lead 22-20, but the Mounties tied it one last time at 22 before Thomas ended it three points later on a kill, securing a spot in Saturday's Division 3 final against top-seed Frontier.
"We lost it in the beginning and then we got right back in, it was pretty great," Thomas said. "This is a first for me and to make it to the finals, I'm just really excited it's a new experience for me and I can't wait."
Thomas recorded 11 kills and five blocks; a few of her blocks came on Mountie junior Jenna Benzinger, who finished with 13 kills.
"We've been working on her, she missed five games out of the middle of the season with a shoulder injury and then she finally came around," Lee head coach John Warner said. "We've been working middles, that is her strength, we knew that they were small with the lineup that Bailey was confronted with, so it was our intent to run middles and go through her. It was just a matter of her executing and she did."
Lee took the first two sets, 25-17 and 25-15. In the third set, Greylock found some strength to hold on taking it 25-19.
Before coming out for the fourth set, the Mounties huddled together and chanted "Believe", and for a while it looked like their belief would carry them to a fifth set.
With the work of senior Courtney Picard, freshman Anna Wang, and a timeout called by Warner, the Wildcats were able to bring themselves back into the set.
Wang finished with 11 digs for the night; a few of which helped keep her team in the fourth set. Picard came up with eight kills.
"I just said we need to generate offense, we need to generate it when we have the opportunities to," Warner said. "They exposed their line and we went at them quite a bit; Courtney was able to get the side-outs and again we came back to Bailey who was big for us tonight.
"But also in that fourth set, Anna Wang had a few spectacular digs, we don't have out digs very often and to run up eleven digs in our system really speaks to how well she passed the ball."
The Wildcats will travel to Holyoke Community College Saturday for a 4:30 p.m. start against Frontier.
Lee has seen Frontier once this season, taking a 3-1 loss, but Warner believes that his team can give them a game.
"They are a really huge obstacle for us right now, they always have been," he said. :It's tough to compete with them, but we should be able to give them a game. Getting this far with what it essentially the youngest team in the tournament and we were seeded second in the tournament and we fulfilled our seed and I couldn't ask for anything better."