Pittsfield Puts Up Good Fight Against Powerful Lancers

By Stephen DravisiBerkshires.com Sports
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PITTSFIELD, Mass. -- The Pittsfield volleyball team took its first loss of the season on Tuesday evening.
But in the process, the Generals showed that they were every bit as good as the 4-0 record they brought into the match.
Riley Nichols recorded 17 assists, and PHS gave Longmeadow all it could handle in a 25-23, 25-18, 27-25 win for the Lancers at Moynihan Field House.
"They're traditionally one of the top one or two teams in Division 2," Pittsfield coach Brian Lawton said. "For us to take them to a two-point loss in two of the games, we've got to feel really proud of taking that team right to the limit."
Michaela LeBlanc had 11 kills, and Emily Koldys recorded 10 digs for the Generals (4-1).
Nichols was credited with two blocks. Net play was critical against a Longmeadow front line that features 6-foot-3 Kayla Mokwuah and 6-1 Abbie Mokwuah.
"I thought we did an awesome job of playing defense against them, Lawton said. "We dug them a lot of times. We blocked them a few times, too. I thought we competed against that size really well.
"You can get intimidated by that, but we didn't. That was a really big factor in the game, I thought, keeping us in it."
In the first set, Pittsfield built a five-point lead on Koldys' serve. She took it to 20-15 with four straight points before Longmeadow was able to stem the tide and earn a side out.
From there, it was all Longmeadow, who went on a 10-3 run to close out the set. Abbie Mokwuah finished the set with back-to-back kills.
The second set was never particularly close, not after Stephanie Perkins served seven straight points -- the last three on aces -- to get the Lancers' lead to 19-10.
The third set was a back-and-forth affair that had the large crowd very involved.
PHS took a four-point lead when LeBlanc served up an ace to make it 16-12, but the tide turned Longmeadow's way when Brittney Cunningham served up three straight aces with her jump serve to tie the set at 18-18.
"It gives you kind of a different look," Lawton said of Cunningham's serve. "And it was kind of floating, too. It was a little hard to get a good pass off of that. We passed really well all night, but we got a little out of system on that one server."
Nevertheless, Pittsfield righted the ship and ended up serving for the set when Alyssa Puntin recorded a kill at the net to make it 25-24 on LeBlanc's serve. But Longmeadow earned the sideout and closed the match with two straight serves by Perkins, the last ending on a block by Abbie Mokwuah.
Overall, in spite of the loss, Lawton was very pleased with his team's performance.
"The movement was awesome," he said. "One of the things we've been having a lot of trouble with is our serve receive, and our serve receive was excellent tonight. I think we turned a corner on that.
"Our setter has been running around like crazy in some of the matches, but today we were getting the ball right too her most of the match."
Pittsfield travels to Holyoke on Saturday morning to take part in the Volleyball Classic.
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