Mullin, Robichaud help Barlow sweep RHAM to reach Class L final
BERLIN—Few teams in the state have an answer to Barlow’s 1-2 punch of Kiara Robichaud and Julia Mullin, and that didn’t change in the Falcons’ Class L semifinal against RHAM Wednesday.
The seniors helped orchestrate a dynamic attack that left little doubt as to who would advance to the title game. And now the Falcons will get a shot at avenging a defeat and earning the school’s state championship all in one afternoon.
No. 3 Barlow dispatched of the defending champion Sachems in a 3-0 (25-20, 25-18, 25-18) sweep at Berlin High School, setting the stage for a rematch against No. 1 Woodstock in the final on Saturday. The Falcons were swept by the Centaurs a year ago and have prepared the entire year for this moment.
“We definitely came in with a game plan and executed it,” Robichaud said. “It’s a very mental game and RHAM is obviously a really strong team. I think it’s just great that we did what we came to do.”
Both Mullin and Robichaud each notched 18 kills for Barlow; Mullin had the clinching strikes in the opening two sets while Robichaud ended the game. Barlow trailed 17-16 before scoring eight of the next nine points. The second set was less dramatic, though, as the Falcons blitzed to a 14-4 advantage.
“I think what’s really key is that when one of us is front row and one of us is back row, the other is passing for the person that’s in the front row,” Robichaud said. “The other one is calling spots; it’s a good support system.”
“We’re constantly communicating with each other and we can rely on each other and I’m confident whenever Kiara is behind me for sure,” Mullin added.
RHAM started the final set brightly and traded points with the Falcons early. But a run midway through the set quelled any hopes of a comeback.
ONE STEP AWAY
A five-set loss to Newtown in the regular season finale is the lone blemish on the Falcons’ resume. Barlow won the SWC title before sweeping its way to the Class L final, and is 24-1 on the season with the chance to knock off Woodstock for the first state championship.
“It’s been the base of our entire season,” Mullin said of last year’s defeat. “We’ve worked so hard to get to this point in the season and for us to finally be here in the final it’s going to take a lot of energy.”
It’s the first Class L final since that the Sachems will miss out since 2012, ending a streak of five straight. RHAM has won seven state titles since 2007, including the last two in Class L. Several of Barlow’s postseason exits have come at the hands of RHAM.
“We have a history of losing to them,” Falcons coach Carol Asplund said. “They’ve taken out of more state (tournaments) than I want to talk about. I’m glad these girls didn’t remember much of the last time we played them (a comprehensive 3-0 sweep in 2016 in which one set went 25-3) because they literally wiped the floor with us.
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Julia Mullin, Barlow: Added stellar defense to notching 18 kills for the Falcons.
“She only plays volleyball during the (fall),” Asplund said of Mullin. “I push her really hard during the season; she’s just a phenomenal athlete. If you count up the months she’s played, it’s only been a year.”
BARLOW 3, RHAM 0
BARLOW25 25 25 — 3
RHAM 20 18 18 — 0
Highlights: B—Kiara Robichaud had 18 kills. Julia Mullin had 18 kills. Kayleigh Emanuelson had 31 assists. Records: Barlow 21-1, RHAM 18-3.