LeBlanc Keys Pittsfield Girls Volleyball Win at Wahconah

By Stephen DravisiBerkshires.com Sports
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DALTON, Mass. -- After it won the first set on Friday with relative ease, the third set was anything but easy for the Pittsfield volleyball team.
But the Generals fended off four set points to win the third, 26-24, and complete a 3-0 sweep of host Wahconah in the programs’ “Pink Out” game to support breast cancer awareness.
Riley Nichols served five straight points to end the match -- a run that included two kills from Nichole LaPierre and a block by Danielle LeBlanc on Pittsfield’s first match point.
Generals coach Brian Lawton was not surprised his team was able to rally after falling behind, 24-20.
“That's something we've been doing all year long,” Lawton said. “We've come back in a lot of games. We've got a really close team this year. They all support each other. And they all believe they can come back in any game we're playing. They proved that again tonight. I thought that was great.”
Pittsfield (11-4) took control of the first set on two long service runs by LeBlanc, who served five straight points in her first try and five more the second time her turn came around. The second time she served, Wahconah (10-4) failed to return the serve five times in a row.
“We were having a hard time with serve receive tonight,” Wahconah coach David Lussier said. “They had two back-to-back servers who really gave us a lot of problems. We tried an adjustment on the fly. I thought we had it in the third set. With a little luck, we could have gotten into that fourth set, and then you never know from there.”
Pittsfield went on to win the first set, 25-12, and took the second, 25-18.
But Wahconah jumped out to the early lead set No. 3, going ahead 4-0 on a Kristin Mange ace.
The Generals came back to tie at 12-12, but Wahconah again pulled ahead, this time using four straight points off Kelsey LaFreniere’s serve, a run that included one of Emma Parkington’s four third-set kills.
Parkington ended the match with a team-high six kills.
“We didn't have a lot of offense until that third set when Emma sparked us there in the middle and put down some consecutive kills,” Lussier said. “We finally found sets for her. We weren't getting to her in the first two sets, and that made a difference too.”
Lucy Sears led Wahconah with nine assists.
Nichols had 26 assists for Pittsfield, which got nine kills from LeBlanc.
“She's been playing great for us all year. It's tough for a right-handed hitter to hit opposite, and she's really effective at it,” Lawton said of the junior. “We've got two other good outside hitters, and she's a really good setter as well, and she's the backup setter in that position. She's got a big block out there. It really helps us to have her blocking the outside hitter. There are a lot of advantages to having her out there.
“Her serving has been huge for us. There was one match where she served 36 times for us in a five-set match. She scores us a lot of points. Even when she doesn't get a point on an ace, she's always putting them on their heels.”
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