LENOX - In a Division III girls’ volleyball opening-round match, seventh-seeded Lenox defeated 10th-seeded South Hadley 3-1
It was a match characterized by long rallies, players redeeming themselves after costly errors, and the last three sets decided by only two points each.
Lenox won the first set handily, 25-13, thanks in large part to a plethora of unforced errors by the Tigers. After South Hadley took a 5-2 lead to start the set, Lenox used runs of 7-1 and 11-0 to pull away.
The second set would not be nearly as easy. South Hadley went on a 6-1 run and was up 9-4 before Lenox coach Ed Paquette called a time out. The stoppage allowed the Millionaires to regain their confidence and go on an 8-3 run of their own to tie the set at 12.
The teams would exchange runs again before a back-and-forth battle began with the score tied at 24. The teams alternated points until it was tied at 27, then a hit into the net by South Hadley and a soft touch by Lenox’s Suzanne Woller (15 kills, three aces, four digs) that just barely trickled over the net and died in front of two Tiger players gave the Millionaires a 2-0 lead.
South Hadley took the third set, 25-23, in a set that they controlled for the most part, only trailing at one point, 15-14. Lenox scored three straight points with South Hadley at 24 to pull within one, but a dig attempt by Lenox went into the net, and the match -- and South Hadley’s season -- was prolonged.
In the fourth set, the Millionaires got out to a four-point lead early on, but could not pull away like they did in the first set. The Tigers kept it within reach until they took their first lead of the set at 17-16.
From there, it was another game of tug-of-war, with neither team able to take more than a two-point lead. Late in the set, two straight Lenox errors on match point allowed the Tigers to pull even at 24, but a return that went over the Lenox end line set up Makayla White to serve an ace (one of five for her on the night, along with 15 digs) for the clincher and push the Millionaires through to the next round.
Setter Kristin Reed had 30 assists for the Millionaires on a night where the officials were very strict calling carrying violations. Liz Mitts chipped in 15 digs and 5 aces. For South Hadley, Maddi Kelleher had 10 kills, 14 digs, 10 saves, five aces, and a block; Courtney Marcil had 11 assists, three saves, and two blocks; and Kelly Pouliot had eight kills and two saves.
South Hadley finished its season at 7-12. Lenox (14-5) will travel to Springfield Monday night for a quarterfinal match with no. 2 Sabis at 6:30 p.m.