Wahconah Takes Battle of Unbeatens at Mount Greylock

By Stephen DravisiBerkshires.com Sports
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WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. – The Wahconah and Mount Greylock volleyball teams battled point-for-point and set-for-set on Friday night in the Mountie Dome.
And when it was over, they hugged it out.
McKenzie LaBier had four aces and three kills, including two aces in the deciding set of Wahconah’s 27-25, 16-25, 27-25, 13-25, 15-12 win.
Although the two longtime Berkshire County rivals now play in different leagues in the PVIAC, bragging rights were definitely on the line in the clash of previously unbeaten squads.
Just know that it will be good-natured bragging between the players, many of them teammates outside the high school season on travel squads.
“I was so excited to come and play Celina [Savage] and Kylie [Sweren] and Jackie [Brannan],” LaBier said. “It was pushing me to do better, so when I saw them at the net, I said, ‘I have to stuff one of them.’ It happened to be Celina.”
It happened midway through the deciding set of a highly competitive contest, and the pair still shared a quick laugh over the moment before getting back to business.
As it happened, LaBier’s block on Savage (19 kills) gave Wahconah a key sideout with Mount Greylock leading, 8-5.
Two rotations later, LaBier went to the service line and served four straight points to give Wahconah a 12-9 lead that it never relinquished.
Eva Jacinto put away a point on Casey Wilson’s serve to get Wahconah to match point at 14-10.
Mount Greylock called timeout and fended off two match points, the second on a kill by Brannan, before Wahconah’s Ava Rose took a swing that put the ball into the Mounties blockers, who were unable to control the ball and the match came to an end.
It was the culmination of an uphill battle much of the night for Wahconah (8-0).
Mount Greylock stormed out to a 9-2 lead in the first set with a six-point run on Julia DeChaine’s serve.
It was 11-3 moments later before Wahconah was able to regroup and start chipping away.
The tide turned late, when Hannah Friedman (three aces, four kills) went to the back line with her team down, 17-12. She served the next four points, including an ace, to get Wahconah back into the set.
A Savage kill stopped that run, and Mount Greylock pulled back ahead, 23-18.
But then Katie McCormack (five aces) served five straight points to give Wahconah a 24-23 lead. A few sideouts later, and the ball went to Jenna Bird with Wahconah up, 26-25; she delivered a serve the Mounties could not return and gave her team the set.
“That was probably one of our better set wins that we’ve had this season – to come from behind and then when it got in the match point going back and forth between the two teams and being able to pull it out,” Wahconah coach Dave Lussier said. “It’s really helpful for our team to be able to know that they can pull something out, being down six or seven points, being able to turn around and close out a set like that.
“That was a pivotal set, the first set.”
Mount Greylock (4-1) recovered and took the second set handily thanks to long service runs by Brannan and Sweren and several kills late from Savage.
“This is [Savage’s] third game playing that position ever,” Mount Greylock coach Greg Geyer said. “She was out for a couple of days. We’ve been injured. And this is the first time we did this lineup.
“And she just was killing it. She was pretty much unstoppable at times. It was really good. And Wahconah has a really good defense.”
Brannan served five straight points to get the lead to 17-12. Sweren, one turn later, took the Mounties to a 23-13 lead with five more points in a row.
Then it was Wahconah’s team to bounce back, taking another set in extra points. Friedman again closed out the set, this time serving two straight points from 25-25.
Mount Greylock’s dominant attack from Savage and Charlotte Coody, allowed the Mounties to breeze to a surprising 12-point win in the fourth set and take all the momentum into the tie-breaker.
Lussier was able to get his team refocused during the break.
“Celina [Savage] took over the match,” Lussier said. “You know, she got into her rhythm, and I just had to kind of remind the girls that those things are gonna happen. And you have to let those go and make our next pass and be on offense and take the opportunity away from her to be able to hit the ball away from us.”
Geyer identified another key for Wahconah in the fifth set.
“Wahconah served very well throughout the match,” he said. “This was not our best serving night. … That was the difference, and it was basically the difference at the end of that fifth set.”
The good news for Mount Greylock is it gets to put the loss behind it right away on Saturday when it heads to Springfield to take on Springfield International Charter School.
The bad news is that it will not get another shot at Wahconah. The two teams are in different classes for the Western Mass tournament and different divisions for the state tournament.
“It’s a big bummer,” Geyer said. “Playing a local team is always a lot of fun, and we don’t get to do it that much. We’ve both been playing in our leagues, and it’d be nice to see them more.
“More local teams would be nice, and them especially.”
Wahconah’s Lussier would agree.
“I wish that we were gonna play again,” he said. “I really believe that the [old] Berkshire County League in general has a lot of great competition. Unfortunately, it got broken up.”
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