The Newton North boys' volleyball team has finally found the potion to its Achilles’ heel and it came way of a 3-1 victory over Newton South in the Division 1 South sectional finals.
The second-seeded Tigers (17-2) beat their crosstown rivals, the fourth-seeded Lions (18-5), with scores of 25-19, 25-16, 22-25, 25-17. That helped erase memories of their playoff exits the last two years from the hands of the Lions.
“We’ve not been winning against Newton South in the past years,” said Newton North head coach Richard Barton. “But the matches have been devastatingly great and strong. So I have never really felt badly about doing it.”
He continued, “I think we pulled it out because we just kept our pedal to the metal the whole night long. We just bombed from everywhere and everyone kept hitting.”
Newton North now advances to the state semi-finals where the Tigers will play the winner of the Haverhill-Lawrence match. The game’s date, time, and location has yet to be determined.
For Newton South head coach Todd Elwell, it was a case of his team struggling while their opponent excelled.
“Probably one of our worst games on attack for set one and two, so we really struggled,” he said. “And it is a game of kill or be killed. And the bottom line is they were up to the task. They played some really scrappy defense. They’re a great team.”
The two teams were evenly matched for the majority of the opening set until the Tigers gained the 18-17 lead on a Lions serve out of bounds. That ignited a 8-2 run for Newton North, which ended on a Matt Laredo kill and handed the Tigers the game one win.
In the second set, Newton North tallied an early 7-6 advantage after Lion Jeff Hodin failed to dig a Tiger kill. Newton North would continue to lead and went up 21-12 after back-to-back kills from Luke Westman. From there, the Tigers cruised to the 25-16 triumph.
“Luke was in such a zone,” said Barton. “When someone is in a zone, the coach just sits on the bench and stays very quiet and doesn’t tell the person anything because you don’t want to mess with it.”
The Lions worked their way back into the match in game three. With the score 22-21 Lions, Josh Horenstein slammed home three kills sending Newton South into game four down 2-1.
But there, the Tigers resumed control as Westman’s dominating performance continued with five kills and an ace. That help lead Newton North to the 25-17 victory.
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