HUDSON — The Lynnfield volleyball team battled but came up short in the Division 2 state semifinal Tuesday night, losing to Groton-Dunstable in five sets at Hudson High. The Pioneers lost by set scores of 25-19, 20-25, 25-23, 19-25 and 10-15.
“We just didn’t have it today,” Lynnfield coach Brent Ashley said. “We didn’t have it the last two games either and I think we got lucky the last couple games. The other two games the other teams made more mistakes but today Groton-Dunstable didn’t. We just didn’t have the spark or that energy today.
“They played OK defense but I thought we made the mistakes,” Ashley added. “I didn’t think they were great, I just think that we didn’t have the mentality or the IQ to put the ball where it needed to go. I think screamed out many many times don’t swing cross and we would. We just couldn’t react in the moment to do the right thing.”
The Pioneers started the night off on the right foot at the beginning of the first set. Lynnfield surged out to a 13-5 lead before Groton-Dunstable was able to start to rally. The Crusaders eventually narrowed the lead to 21-19 before the Pioneers finished the set at 25-19 with Mackenzie Schena’s service points.
In the second set both teams battled to a 11-11 tie before the Crusaders started to take over. Groton-Dunstable eventually took the set 25-20 with an ace by Alexis Millet.
Despite falling behind 18-13 late in the third set the Pioneers were able to rally back. Later on, with Melissa Morelli setting, Lynnfield went on a four-point run to take a 21-20 lead. Lynnfield eventually finished off the set with a kill by Samantha Lebruska to win 25-23.
“In the third set we had a little bit of a glimpse, where it was all about getting on streaks, getting on rallies,” Ashley said. “After that third set we never got a run with maybe three or four points ever. Everytime we did something their middle attacked. Our blocks were a second late and our defense was a second short.”
From there on the Crusaders controlled much of the last two sets with help from great serving by libero Peter White. White served two aces to put Groton-Dunstable ahead in the fourth set and served for his team when it went on a 4-0 run late in the fifth set.
“They have a very fortunate libero who is an incredible player,” Ashley said. “I think he is better than most boy volleyball players.
“It’s not fair,” Ashley added. “Its 100 percent not fair. He has a level of athleticism that I don’t think most girls will ever have. His serve is probably better than 99 percent of most boys volleyball teams. Equal opportunity, I’m all for that, I just don’t think it is fair to put him up against a team like Lynnfield. We need to evaluate, we need to readjust and we need to even the playing field, we really do.”
Despite a disappointing loss, Ashley is confident that the Pioneers will be back for another tournament run next year.
“We didn’t fight tonight,” Ashley said. “We did not play how we wanted to play at all. You saw sparks of what we can do in the first set but we just kind of rolled over a bit. But we have one senior and then all juniors. We will be back next year, no doubt.”