Easthampton Edges Wahconah in Five-Setter in Western Mass Playoffs

By Stephen DravisiBerkshires.com Sports
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EASTHAMPTON, Mass. -- The Easthampton volleyball team Thursday rebounded from an early 5-1 deficit in the fifth set to take a come-from-behind win over Wahconah in the first round of the Western Massachusetts Division 3 tournament.
Annika Devine recorded a kill with a spike that barely landed inbounds to record match point in the 25-19, 22-25, 16-25, 25-19, 15-13 win.
“Five-setters have hurt us all season, although this time they didn’t quit,” Wahconah coach Dave Lussier said. “They really played point to point this time in the fifth set.”
No. 7 Easthampton (13-6) moves on to the quarter-finals at No. 2 Frontier (10-8), which had a bye through the first round. Tenth-seeded Wahconah saw its season come to an end with a record of 10-9.
But the season-ending loss saw Lussier’s squad rally from a rough first set when Wahconah had trouble getting out of its own way.
“I think we probably missed seven or eight serves in the first set and probably had seven unforced errors,” Lussier said. “We had 15 errors in the first set, and that was the difference. We managed to reel that in and do much better after that.”
Neither side could get much momentum going in a second set that saw the serving team win just 13 out of 47 points.
Jordyn Gagliardi (11 digs, 11 assists) earned set point with a kill to get the score to 24-22. Two serves later, an Easthampton service error evened the match at a set apiece.
Kaylee O’Bryan had three of her seven kills and five of her 16 digs in the second set.
The third set went much like the second until Gagliardi broke things open with a six-point run on her serve.
Kassidy Krejmas (nine kills, five aces) put away three points during that run, which was capped by a Faith Wehner kill to make it 17-11.
Krejmas followed up one rotation later with a four-point run on her serve to give Wahconah a 22-15 lead.
After a tip at the net by Rina Damon gave Easthampton a side out, Wahconah regained the serve on a kill by Hannah Rose (six kills, two aces).
Wehner (six kills, five aces) served out the set, ending it with an ace at set point.
“I think we came back, and we settled down in the next two sets,” Lussier said of Wahconah’s recovery in sets 2 and 3. “Then, we probably just let up a little bit in the fourth set when we had momentum on our side. The crowd came alive in the fourth set, and it carried over to the fifth. And it was hard to quiet them down because we weren’t able to get a big enough lead.”
Instead it was Easthampton jumping out to an 18-9 lead with a four-point service run by Maddie Parrish.
Wahconah never got closer than seven points until after the Eagles earned set point at 24-16. Wehner served three in a row to give Wahconah some hope, but Damon’s block put the set away and sent the teams to a decisive fifth.
Gagliardi served three points early in the fifth to give Wahconah a 5-1 lead, but the Eagles came right back, taking their first lead on a tip by Delima Fournier to make it 7-6.
From there, the teams went toe-to-toe. The last tie came on an Easthampton service error to make it 13-13, but the Eagles earned a sideout and match point chance on a kill by Lanah Carson. 
Wahconah said goodbye to six seniors -- Gagliardi, Rose, Wehner, Kris Rock, Gabrielle Frydel and Avery Price -- with the loss.
“I had six great seniors who have been very supportive,” Lussier said. “They’re a really tight group. They support each other. It’s going to be a tough ride home and a tough way to end the season.
“As far as the future of the program … We have a strong outlook. We had a pretty strong JV squad this year and another good group that’s going to be coming in from the middle school The program itself is pretty healthy. So we’re looking forward to the future. We just didn’t expect to be looking forward to it tomorrow.”
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