LYNNFIELD — The Lynnfield volleyball team aced another tough test Monday evening as the regular season draws to a close, battling to a 3-1 win over Arlington Catholic in a non-conference matchup at home. The Pioneers won by set scores of 25-15, 25-18, 23-25, 25-23.
“We went up against a great team today,” said Lynnfield coach Brent Ashley. “It was a battle of the minds out there in this one, and it just came down to making a few key plays with a few key mental wins at the right time and we were able to do that.”
Ashley talked about how important it is for his team to not only get looks at non-conference teams during the course of the season, but how important it is to play some of the best teams in Division 2.
“It’s crucial to play teams of this caliber during the season,” said Ashley. “If you don’t play these kinds of teams during the season, when the tournament comes around you’re going to get beat. That’s especially true for us because it’s only our second year in Division 2, so we haven’t even seen a bunch of the teams yet.”
It was a back-and-forth start to the opening set, which set the tone for the the match. The teams traded leads throughout the set until Lynnfield finally gained a bit of a foothold with a 16-12 lead, forcing an Arlington Catholic timeout. But it was the Pioneers who took advantage of the timeout, going on a 5-0 run on the other side to stretch the lead to 21-12. After a service point for junior outside hitter Sam Lebruska, Lynnfield took the first set 25-15.
Arlington Catholic came out and scored the first few points of the second set to try and gain momentum, but Lynnfield quickly came back and took a 7-4 lead. But the Cougars weren’t done pushing, coming back to tie the score at 8-8. Once again it was the Pioneers who rallied back, going ahead 16-12 and forcing Arlington Catholic to call a timeout. The Cougars got the score as close as 19-18 Lynnfield, but the Pioneers went on a 6-0 run to close the set. Junior setter Melissa Morelli ended the set for Lynnfield with a big kill, giving the Pioneers the 25-18 win.
The third set was back-and-forth. Arlington Catholic jumped out to a quick 7-2 lead, but Lynnfield battled right back to tie it at 9-9 before taking the lead. The score was then tied at 10-10 and 11-11 before Arlington Catholic pulled ahead 15-11. After the Cougars stretched the lead to 21-18, Lynnfield called a timeout. The Pioneers proceeded to go on a 4-0 run out of the timeout to take a 22-21 lead, but Arlington Catholic answered and took the lead right back. After an unforced error by Lynnfield, the Cougars won the set 25-23.
The fourth set was much of the same. Lynnfield pulled ahead 19-17, only to see the Cougars fight back at tie it at 21-21. Lynnfield wouldn’t succumb to the rally, and after a set and match-clinching kill by Lebruska, the Pioneers won the set, 25-23, and the match.
Ashley pointed to the strong play of Lebruska, Morelli, senior middle back Sam DeGeorge, junior middle back Kayla Mortellite and junior setter Sophia Wilkinson as a big reason why the Pioneers won.
“Our girls were able to make the key plays when they counted,” Ashley said. “They never got down when the rallies weren’t going their way. They kept up the intensity from start to finish and played a heck of a match against a very good team.”
Now at 17-1, Lynnfield’s preparing for the state tournament the best way it knows how: playing some of the best teams around. The Pioneers close the year with matches against North Andover (Wednesday) and Winchester (10/29).