Red Raiders Down Top-seeded North Attleboro 3-0
By: Tom Moran Jr.
Some habits are hard to break.
After having its 17-year streak of South Sectional finals appearances broken last year, the Barnstable High girls volleyball team punched its ticket to the 2010 South finals by punching out previously unbeaten and top-ranked North Attleboro 3-0 in semifinal round action last night.
The Red Rocketeers, who were 21-0 going into the match, were the third unbeaten team the Red Raiders (18-2) had faced this season but, after bowing to both Frontier Regional and Medfield, they wasted no time letting their hosts know that their status as an unbeaten would soon be over.
In what was their most impressive outing of the season to date, the Red Raiders got outstanding performances from every player that took the floor with the tone for the team being set by the superlative efforts of senior co-captain Sarah Colby and Devon Bentivegna.
Bentivegna was close to flawless both at the service line and receiving serve while Colby made big plays all over the floor.
But leaders are only as good as their followers and on this night, the followers were first-rate as well.
Despite the fact that the Red Raiders won the match in three games (25-19, 25-16 and 25-21), this was not a one-sided affair as points for both teams were hard-earned and, until Colby put together a five-point stay at the service line at the end of the third game, neither team was able to put together any kind of sustained offensive charge.
Both teams came out a bit tentative before a kill by BHS middle hitter Kaylee Deluga gave the Red Raiders a 5-4 lead. The Red Rocketeers stayed close behind their middle hitter Jen Perkins but the Red Raiders started getting points from all their front line players and it wasn’t long before the Barnstable lead had been stretched to 17-11.
Keys to the steady scoring pace was the smart play of setter Kayla Crook, who made all the right decisions with the ball, and the offense provided by Aine Cole, Regan Bristol, Carolyn Morin and Lynne Hibbard.
The Red Rocketeers closed the gap to 23-19 but back-to-back kills by Morin and Deluga gave the first game win to the Red Raiders.
North Attleboro scored the first point of the second game on a block by Perkins but it was all downhill from there as the Red Raiders scored nine of the next 11 points to take control.
With Bentivegna getting to everything the Red Rocketeers threw her way and Crook turning defense to offense with her on-target sets, the Barnstable attack flourished as kills by Hibbard, Deluga and Bristol helped their team boost its lead to 14-6.
Bristol was the big gun in the scoring run as she knocked down two kills, added a tip-in for another score.
The North Attleboro coach called two timeouts in hopes of getting her team back on track but all that did was delay the inevitable as the Red Raiders kept getting points from an ever-changing array of players as their lead peaked at 23-13.
And any thoughts about a miracle comeback disappeared when Bristol came up with a big block on a kill try by NA’s Megan McHugh.With the match and their season on the line, the Red Rocketeers played with a sense of desperation in the third game and their renewed efforts kept the Red Raiders from closing things out in an easy fashion.
The game was close throughout with the Red Raiders, behind some outstanding serves from Stephanie Martin, continued solid back line play from Bentivegna and Nikki Deluga and more big plays up front from Kaylee Deluga, Cole and Bristol, opening up an early 9-6 lead.
The home team refused to go down without a fight and, when Barnstable took their foot off the pedal, the Red Rocketeers showed why they will be part of the Division 1 volleyball scene for a least the next couple of years as McHugh, Perkins and libero Kim Hallahan powered a scoring run that tied the Red Raiders at 17-all and then gave their team its first lead (18-17) since the opening minutes.
That prompted a BHS timeout, and the strategy worked as a tip-in by Cole knotted the score at 19-19 before Colby ran off five straight points, with a kill by Bristol and a great off-balance shot by Cole benefitting the Barnstable cause, to put her team on the brink of a trip to the South Sectional finals.
The Red Rocketeers final wound was self-inflicted as a serve into the net gave the Red Raiders the match-clinching point.
“Everybody played extremely well today,” said BHS coach Tom Turco. “We did a great job of receiving serve and that allowed us to be very aggressive on offense. Plus we had players really step up their level of play and that made us a very tough team to contend with.”
Kaylee Deluga paced the BHS offense with 14 kills and three service aces and got plenty of support from Bristol (six kills and two blocks), Cole (five kills and a block), Morin (three kills ) and Hibbard and Crook (two kills apiece). Crook was also the club’s top playmaker with 24 assists.
Bentivegna set the defensive tone with her 14 digs (to go with a pair of service aces) and she also got plenty of help as Colby and Martin came through with nine digs each and Nikki Deluga added eight digs.
South Sectional ShowdownThe Barnstable High Volleyball team will take on longtime rival New Bedford in the MIAA Division 1 South Sectional finals tomorrow night at Pembroke High School. The match is scheduled for a 6 PM start. The second-seeded Whalers (18-1) defeated Notre Dame of Hingham 3-0 last night to advance.
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