Lee beats Greylock in D-III volleyball semi, reaches final against Frontier
Photo Gallery | Lee vs. Mt. Greylock in W. Mass. volleyball semifinals
LEE — The Lee High Wildcats survived a furious Mount Greylock comeback and defeated the Mounties 3-1. With the win, Lee advances to this weekend's Western Massachusetts Division III title match.
Second-seeded Lee knocked off third-seeded Greylock Thursday night by scores of 25-17, 25-15, 19-25 and 25-22. Lee won the final set after trailing 9-15.
"We lost it [in the third set] then got right back in it," said freshman Bailey Thomas, whose 11 kills paced the Lee attack.
The Wildcats now have the daunting task of upending the top seed and five-time defending D-III state champion, Frontier Regional High School.
The Red Hawks with nine experienced seniors will battle a young Lee squad, with one senior and two starting freshman, at Holyoke Community College, 4:30 p.m. on Saturday.
While Frontier beat the Wildcats 3-1 in their regular season meeting, Lee coach John Warner would love to beat them when it truly counts — tournament time.
"This is very big challenge, they have been a thorn in our [side] the last few years," Warner said.
Yet, Mount Greylock almost stuck it to Lee after the home team grabbed the first two sets in impressive fashion. The Wildcats pulled away in the first set, scoring the last six points, five off the serve of senior co-captain Courtney Picard, that included two of her seven aces.
Lee again finished strong in the second set, scoring seven of the last eight points, led by Bailey's fine front court play.
Greylock finally found its groove, holding a slim lead in the third set, winning several long rallies, before pulling away to win 25-19. The Mounties never trailed thanks to a more consistent service game aided by two kills and two big defensive blocks from Jenna Benzinger. The junior finished the night with 13 kills.
Greylock coach John Albano wasn't surprised his young squad began to rally.
"They've battled all year coming from behind," he said.
The Mounties had swung the momentum to their side of the net and appeared headed to knotting the match at two sets apiece by opening up a lead in the fourth set.
Lee was struggling to find its offense until at 10-15, Haleigh Richardson served up six straight points, taking a 16-15 lead, powered by back-to-back kills by Picard.
"Courtney is the hub of our team and when she plays big it inspires us to play big," said junior Kendra Williams.
"How Courtney goes, the team goes," Warner added.
After both teams traded defensive points to reach 20-20, Lee grabbed five of the last seven points to clinch the win and a trip to the finals.
Warner believes his team will have to outgun Frontier at the service line, the Wildcats strongest part of their game.
"Our instruction will be to bomb serve them, bringing as much heat to them as we can," he said.
Aside from the seven aces, Picard registered eight kills and 11 assists. Williams chipped in with six kills, six digs and 21 assists. Freshman Anna Wang had 11 digs.
For Greylock, Serena Chow had eight kills. Dagny Albano had 28 assists and Marley Buffis recorded 20 digs.
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