Easthampton girls volleyball falls to Mahar in Division 3 quarterfinals
ORANGE — The Easthampton girls volleyball team lost a very close first set and watched its hopes of scoring a second-consecutive upset victory over a North Quabbin area opponent go with it as it fell to Mahar 3-0 in the Western Massachusetts Division 3 Tournament quarterfinal round Monday night.
After knocking off No. 7 Athol Sunday, the 10th-seeded Eagles fell 26-24, 25-13, 25-10 to the second-seeded Senators.
Easthampton finished 16-4. Mahar (15-5) will host No. 3 Lee (20-0) in the semifinals Wednesday night.
Easthampton won the first point of the night with Moneerachena Nhem serving, and the team jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the first set as Elizabeth Whitney won a point on a block, and Mary Gyeidu added a kill. Mahar fought back, however, and neither team led by more than three points the rest of the way in the first set, until Mahar’s Sabrina Silva stepped to the line to serve with the score tied 20-20. Three aces from Silva and a kill by Allie Barnes pushed the Senators to game point at 24-20, but Silva’s next serve went long and Easthampton had new life.
Kelly Avard served for Easthampton and won three straight points to tie the game at 24-24, but then things took a tough turn for the visitors, when they were called for a carry on the next point. Mahar won the set on the following point when Easthampton was called for a double-hit.
The Eagles though came out and took a 6-3 lead early in the second set but Silva scored a kill to make the score 6-4 and then took over the serve. The senior served three straight aces to give Mahar the lead for good, and then added three more aces on the next five points (with a pair of Easthampton errors mixed in) and the Senators had a commanding 12-6 lead when she finally lost the serve on a long hit. The sequence seemed to deflate the Eagles, and Jacobson said her team was just unable to regroup and get their confidence back.
“I think that getting the momentum back after losing that first set when we were playing with them, was tough for our girls,” she said. “We hung in there and we were consistent in that first set but in the second set we suddenly had a serve-receive breakdown and that’s really what cost us.”
Silva, meanwhile, finished with the six aces and added four more kills in the second set, including the game clincher. Sam Pierson served for six points in the set, and Barnes added three more points.
“Sabrina just played a hell of a game,” Woodward said. “She was hitting the (heck) out of the ball.”
The third set was a rout, as the Eagles never won more than two straight points, while the Senators went on three service runs of four or more straight points. Barnes (three kills, four aces in the match) won four straight points, including three straight by ace, while Caitriona Cronin (11 digs) won four straight as well to help Mahar jump out to a 13-4 lead. Pierson (17 assists) added four more straight later in the set to put Mahar up 21-9. Sabrina Silva punctuated her 15-kill, 10-ace performance by scoring back-to-back kills to set up game point and then clinching the match with a block.