LEE -- The Lee High School volleyball team presented an emphatic case as the county's top team with a surprising 3-0 sweep of rival Lenox on Monday night, 25-15, 25-23, 25-18.
The Millionaires were previously undefeated in the county, although Lenox had lost a non-league contest to East Longmeadow. They fell to 9-2 overall, 8-1 in the league. Lee is also 8-1, 9-2.
The Wildcats had previously lost a league match to Taconic, another team vying for county honors.
The difference in Monday's match was service pressure, according to both coaches.
"Lee's serves were the best I've seen all year," said Lenox coach Ed Paquette. "All three games were well-played, but I thought that was the difference."
"We put a lot of service pressure on them," said Wildcat coach John Warner. "We have some really great servers and they were all on tonight. Courtney Picard has a really nasty serve, and Katie Morin has a really nice serve with a lot of backspin that's hard to handle."
Morin, who turned in her usual solid all-around game with eight kills, three aces, three digs, three assists and three blocks, agreed with Warner's assessment. "We put a lot of service pressure on them all match," she said. "I thought our passing was also very good."
This is not to say that the Millionaires folded their tents on Monday. All three games were close and well-played. Every game had at least one extended rally, and usually more than that.
In the opening game, Picard snapped an 8-8 tie with six consecutive service points that included two aces. Leading 14-8, the Wildcats never allowed Lenox to get closer than three points the rest of the way.
The Millionaires held the early advantage in the second contest. Lizzy Barry, who ended the night with three kills and four aces, served six consecutive points, including one of her aces, and the visitors took an 11-5 lead.
But Lee kept hanging around. A forceful kill by the Wildcats' Kendra Williams tied the game at 14, and Lee went on a 4-0 run to take command, 19-15.
Lenox battled back. Raiche Wright, who had a fine game with seven kills and four blocks, made a couple of tough defensive plays, as did Suzanne Woller, to pull the Millionaires within 20-19. But a point was as close as the visitors could get and Lee took the second game, 25-23.
The third game also started out close. With the teams tied at 7-7, Morin made a big block and Alyssa Kelly had a couple of tough digs. Suddenly, Lee pushed the lead to 13-8, and then 19-10. Lenox made an abbreviated run, but the home side closed them out, 25-18.
"We have a very young team," said Warner. "Katie is the only senior starter. But they played very well today. They're well-versed in where they need to be, and they're very rarely out of position. I thought we were the better team tonight."
Williams had seven aces and 17 assists, while Picard had eight kills, seven aces and two digs for Lee.
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