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By Michael Flanagan
Hometown Weekly Sports Editor
Its playoff season, and on Thursday night, the Medfield and Westwood High volleyball teams clashed in the first round of the MIAA D2 Central State Tournament. This marked the third meeting of 2016 between the 12-seeded Wolverines (11-9) and 5-seeded Warriors (16-5), with Medfield sweeping the season series 2-0.
A hot start by Medfield proved to be the difference in this one, as despite a late rally by Westwood, the Warriors pulled out the 3-1 victory to advance to round two and eliminate the Wolverines from postseason contention.
Early kills by Medfield’s Ally Beck and blocks at the net by Julia McDevitt and Brooke Deady allowed the Warriors to jump out to a 16-8 lead and cruise to a 25-10 first set victory.
Westwood came out in set two with a purpose in an attempt to knot the match at one. The Wolverines jumped out to a 9-7 lead thanks to four big blocks by Carly Sugrue (4), while Camille Cummings, Shea Farrell, and Lizzy Kelly also tallied a block a piece in the second stanza. Westwood also cleaned up their defensive mistakes that plagued them throughout the first set defeat, and it showed on the scoreboard. However, a late offensive surge by Medfield gave the Warriors the 25-17 set victory and the 2-0 overall lead.
With their backs up against the wall down 0-2 and their season on the line, the Wolverines came out in the third set firing on all cylinders. Yara Nassif and Shea Farrell each had three kills in set three with perfect serve reception from Allie Morin (33 digs) and six assists from Meghan Blue. The efforts of Nassif, Farrell, and Morin in set three allowed the Wolverines to fight back and cut the deficit to 2-1 with a 25-22 set victory.
Despite the hard-fought effort by Westwood in set three to get themselves back into the match, McDevitt and company would not be denied as the Warriors took set four, 25-20, behind a strong performance at the net by Jessica Sturchio and Ally Beck to close out the match and advance to play the winner of Milton/Westboro next week in the quarterfinals.
Even while the match did not end in favor of the Wolverines, Westwood head coach Jennifer Murphy says that there are many positives to take away from this game in the statistics and the way that the Wolverines played together as a team.
“If we had to go out, I was proud that that was the way we did,” said Murphy. “We fought the whole way through this game and I was so proud of the way the girls played together until the end. This was the best that we’ve played together as a team the entire season, it was really inspiring. We made a game plan and committed to the execution, serving at 97%, really focusing on the block and making much fewer hitting errors than most of the regular season.”
Murphy also highlighted the effort of Sarah McMahon (three serve receptions, four digs), who was called up to play on Thursday night from Westwood’s JV team.
“Sarah made her varsity debut after being pulled up from JV to add depth to our defense,” said Murphy. “She played with great confidence in her first set with us and really stepped up against some tough Medfield hitters.”