Crusaders Will Play for All the Marbles Saturday
HUDSON -- The Groton-Dunstable High School volleyball team is heading to its first-ever state championship match.
The Crusaders secured their berth in the title match with a thrilling comeback victory over perennial power Lynnfield, 3-2, in an MIAA state semifinal at Hudson High Tuesday night.
Groton-Dunstable improved its record to 21-2. The Crusaders will play West sectional champion Minnechaug in the state final on Saturday. Minnechaug posted a 3-1 victory over Duxbury in its semifinal.
The Crusaders were trailing, 2-1, after three sets. But with its season on the line, Groton-Dunstable rose to the challenge, posting a 25-19 win the fourth set and then a 15-10 victory in the fifth and deciding set. The Crusaders had plenty of support in the stands as a large group of fans made the trip to Hudson.
Senior libero Peter White did a great job serving in the fourth and fifth sets. The Crusaders received outstanding play at the net from senior Lily Blodgett and junior Carolyn Mullins. Senior captain Alexis Millett also played well, coming up with several clutch hits.
“We played together and we played hard,” said Blodgett. “We knew that if we had determination and played together we could do this.”
The match was tense throughout with Lynnfield taking the first set, 25-19. Groton-Dunstable came back to even it at 1-1 with a 25-20 in the second set. But Lynnfield posted a 25-23 victory in the third set, leaving the Crusaders with no margin for error.
Junior Melissa Morelli led the way for Lynnfield (22-2) with her spikes and serves.
“We watched film of (Lynnfield) from their last match,” said G-D coach Lori Herberich. “We looked at it and studied it. They are very disciplined. We knew where we wanted to put the ball based on that.”
In the fifth set, Groton-Dunstable jumped out to an 11-4 lead. White’s strong serving helped seal the win as he reeled off four straight serves that swung the momentum in the Crusaders’ favor.
White was big through the match from the service line. In the fourth set, White turned a 15-14 lead into an 18-14 lead with three straight service points.
Blodgett and Mullins continually made their presence felt at the net, landing a lot of key kills. In the fifth set Blodgett and Mullins combined for 7 points. Mullins ended the match with a perfectly placed kill.
Groton-Dunstable has gone five sets in all three tournament wins.