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By Michael Flanagan
Hometown Weekly Sports Editor
Entering Monday night’s matchup with TVL foe Norton, the Westwood High girls volleyball team was just one win away from a bid to the state tournament. The Wolverines came out sporting some stylish pink uniforms in honor of October being Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
After a tough start to the match with a 25-23 defeat in the first set, the Wolverines (9-5, 8-4) picked up the pace and found a way to get it done in four sets, clinching their spot in the dance and earning their ninth win of the season.
Setter Meghan Blue was a big part of the Wolverines’ success on Monday, leading the team in assists (23) and according to coach Jennifer Murphy carried Westwood defensively.
“Meghan played probably her best defensive game of the year,” said Murphy. “She made sure to position herself smartly behind the block and focused on covering our hitters and made 15 digs. This is something we’ve been working on a lot with her and I can definitely see that her defense is no longer on the back burner and it makes a huge difference in her game.”
Carly Sugrue also had a great night offensively for Westwood, recording a season high 10 kills. Yara Nassif (nine kills) and Shea Farrell (eight kills) also played a key role in Westwood’s ability to put up points in the victory. Lizzy Kelly was flawless serving for the Wolverines with three aces and zero errors in 18 serve attempts, with six blocks on the night as well.
Coach Murphy praised the efforts of Kelly following the victory.
“Lizzy has been focused on improving her block and has managed to get herself into the discussion of being one of the top-three blockers in the TVL,” said Murphy. “She’s earned every bit of success that has come her way.”
Following a slow start in the first set, Murphy says that a mix-around to the lineup helped her team find their rhythm in their second (25-20) and third (25-16) set victories.
“We made some changes in our back row defense following the first set loss putting Allie Morin as libero and having Emily Buonato play back for outside hitter, Yara Nassif,” said Murphy. “I think those changes really helped us take that second set, and we held the same approach in the third set and it paid off, as Norton had a hard time digging and we were able to capitalize.”
Norton went on a serving run in the fourth set, but the Wolverines responded by tightening up their defensive play and pulled out the 25-22 set victory as well as the 3-1 overall win.
Despite the clinching of a playoff berth, Murphy says that her team still has a lot to prove as the final stretch of regular season play looms.
“We made a short-term goal of beating three of the teams (KP, Ashland, Hopkinton) that we lost to in the first half of the season during our rematches with them this upcoming week,” said Murphy. “The competition is stiff these next two weeks but I’m confident that if we keep all these pieces together and don’t focus too much on one aspect of our game that we’ll be able to accomplish that goal before the playoffs begin.”