Mount Greylock advances to the Western Mass. D-III volleyball semifinals
WILLIAMSTOWN — The last time, according to the MIAA, Mount Greylock won a Western Massachusetts volleyball tournament match at home, Hope Willis was in eighth grade. Graduating in June, Willis and her team helped correct that Monday night.
The Greylock senior and her mates swept sixth-seeded Turners Falls 3-0. The No. 3 Mounties won 25-12, 25-13, 25-18.
"I kind of expected it toward the end of this year," Willis said of being back at home. "I was very excited about it."
With the win, the Mounties advance to their second semifinal in as many years. This year, Greylock will have to travel to Lee to face a Wildcat team that has beaten Greylock twice in the regular season.
"Our team this year is so positive, I feel like we have such a great bond, we weren't really nervous about this," said Serena Chow, a tri-captain with Willis and Hailey Guest. "I think we prepared a lot for it."
The Greylock-Lee match is tentatively scheduled for Thursday at 6:30 p.m.
This was a rematch of a quarterfinal last year, when the Mounties beat Turners 3 sets to 2.
The Mounties have a white board in their locker room, and according to Chow, coach John Albano has their rules of engagement written on it.
"It says 'Keep your mental health going. Serve aggressively. Play aggressively, and don't give up ever," said Chow.
The Mounties followed that to a "T."
In the first set, the visiting Indians scored the first two points, and the score was 2-1 when Greylock took over.
Willis served five straight points, which was part of a 10-1 Greylock run. That forced Turners Falls coach Kelly Liimatainen to call time. By the time the Indians scored consecutive points in the first set, it was 20-7, and Greylock closed out the set 25-12.
"I don't think we played our best tonight," Liimatainen said. "Our serve-receive is usually on point. They had some tough serves and we couldn't serve-receive tonight.
"I think first-game nerves hurt us and we couldn't come back."
Turners Falls seemed to right the ship in the second set, scoring four striaght points to take a 9-8 lead. The Indians eventually tied the set at 10 when Chow's serve hit the net. Sienna Dillensneider got her serve over, but her Turners teammate Tess Hunter hit a return into the net, giving Greylock an 11-10 lead.
It was the first of 10 unanswered point that gave the Mounties a 20-10 lead. Greylock eventually won 25-13.
The Mounties were strong right from the start.
We got here pretty early, started warming up right away," said Willis. "I think just being really loose and ready, and we had a good mentality. That really helped us too. "
In what proved to be the final set, Greylock jumped out to a 7-3 lead before Turners Falls came back to make it 10-9. The Mounties answered with six straight points and the Indians got no closer.
And when Oriana Van Slycke's serve sailed over the net and Dagny Albano hit a return that the Turners defense could not play, the Mounties had their win.
Albano had 18 assists for the Mounties. Greylock registered 15 service aces as a team, led by Marley Buffis' five. Jenna Benzinger had five kills and Willis chipped in with four.
So the third match between Berkshire County rivals will happen later this week. In the previous two matches, Lee won 3-1, but the scores were close.
"Not close enough," Greylock coach John Albano said. "We need our serve-receive to work and just minimize errors. That's the key for us."
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