Black, Millionaires Head to Sectional Semi-Finals
LENOX, Mass. — Kayanna Black is always worth watching on a volleyball court.
On Monday night, no one could take their eyes off her.
Black recorded 23 kills and compiled a 54 percent hitting percentage to lead Lenox to a four-set win over Southwick in the Western Massachusetts Division 3 quarter-finals.
Black also had a team-high four blocks and four digs to lead the Millionaires to a 20-25, 25-15, 25-14, 25-21 win.
Third-seeded Lenox (16-4) moves on to Wednesday’s sectional semi-final at No. 2 Frontier (11-8), a three-set winner over Easthampton on Monday night.
“Cross is my spot, right side, so I feel like they weren’t receiving that well, and that was working really well for me tonight, which was good,” Black said. “It’s also all on Maddie [Barenski]. She’s our setter, and she did really well tonight.”
Barenski had 34 assists to go with a team-high seven aces in the win.
By far, most of those assists went to No. 6 in maroon and gold.
“It was one of those things where I said: We’ve got to run our offense around her,” Lenox coach Bessena Cabe said of Black. “She’s the main player. So we rotate around her and everything, how we set up our offense. Everything is around that. And we were able to execute really well and got a lot of good results.”
Lenox struggled to get good results on its serve in the first set, as the Rams were able to match their hosts point-for-point until the end of the set.
That is when Kayla Andrade ran off four straight points on serve for Southwick to give her team a 21-17 lead.
Jen Motsko’s ace a couple of rotations later gave the Rams a set point at 24-18, and Lenox was able to stay alive for two more points before succumbing.
In the second set, Lenox cleaned up its service game and took over the match.
“The serves killed us,” Cabe said. “I think we had about six or seven missed serves in that first set, and I think the game was 25-20 or something like that. That put us behind a little bit, and, essentially, it was get back to the basics, back to fundamentals, get that ball over and make them play for every single point.
“They were a little nervous. They’re in the quarters right now, and [Southwick] put up an upset last week. We got caught off guard a little bit, and we kind of had to regroup and do what we know best.”
Freshman Kelly Nicotra, a late-season call-up from the junior varsity, helped turn the tide in the second set, serving six straight points — including two of her three aces — to turn an 8-7 lead into a 14-7 cushion.
“She came in, and that was a big play for us in that second set,” Cabe said. “They were just about to catch up. And I told her, ‘You helped shift the momentum.’ “
Southwick never got closer than five points the rest of the set. A three-point run by Barenski pushed the lead to 21-12, and the Millionaires closed out the set with an ace by Black.
In third set, Danielle Miller put up a four-point run that featured three straight kills by Black to make it 21-12 and put the set out of reach.
It looked like Lenox was going to run away with the fourth when Barenski served four straight to get the lead to 15-9, but Southwick’s Allie Methe went to the service line with her team down by five and did not relinquish the serve until the set was tied, 16-16.
A tip at the net by Mia Giardina (five kills) and an ace by Black gave Lenox a slight lead at 19-17, but the teams went back-and-forth until Lenox libero Carolina Chossi put the match away with three straight points on her serve: a pair of Black kills and a Southwick attack into the net ended the match and touched off a midcourt celebration as Cabe encouraged the large student section to storm the court and mob his players.
It was the last time many of those in attendance might see Black and co-captain Kristin Miller, the team’s lone seniors.
“It was sad because we know we’re leaving,” Black said. “But on the bright side, we came in and gave it our all, and we’re glad we won on our home court for the last time. That’s a really good feeling.”