WORCESTER — For many other teams, losing a senior captain and an All-Scholastic with the talent of Miska Legatova to an injury in the first set would have been a blow to its state championship aspirations, but not for the Newton North girls’ volleyball team.
The Tigers showed their depth on the way to a 25-21, 25-19, 25-23 sweep of Hopkinton to win the Division 1 state title Saturday night at Worcester State.
“We’ve all worked so hard and I’m so grateful that every day at practice we have everyone playing,” said Legatova. “I’m lucky that we had people to come in and just replace us and keep fighting on. I’m so proud of the younger ones because we’re a very young team. I’m happy for everyone and I’m so proud.”
Legatova stayed on the floor with a left leg injury early in the first set. She tried to return to start the third, but the pain proved too much and she had to watch her team from the sideline. And she was treated to a show. The Tigers (20-1) played a very clean game, staving off numerous late comeback attempts in each set by the Hillers (22-3) to earn their first state title since 2014. Hopkinton survived six consecutive set points in the first frame, but couldn’t dig themselves out of a 24-15 hole.
Ashley Wang (13 kills, 11 digs, 9 assists, 5 blocks) was dominant once again, and Julia Lanfear (14 digs, 5 kills), Chelsea Simmons (18 assists) and Liisa Halloran (7 kills) filled the void.
“We’ve been playing many different lineups all year,” said Newton North coach Richard Barton. “They know they’re good. We have players on our bench who can go in who would be starting for most teams. We’re really happy.”
Westborough 3, Melrose 2 — Down, 2-0, heading into the third set, the Rangers had their opponent right where they wanted them.
The Central champs completed their second consecutive improbable comeback, rallying from two sets down in the Division 2 state final to win a five-set thriller over Melrose, 17-25, 15-25, 25-13, 25-14, 15-6, at Worcester State.
“For these girls to have this opportunity and bring it home, I’m just really proud of them,” said Westborough coach Roger Anderson, whose Rangers won their first state title since 2007.
“We carried momentum Games 1 and 2,” said Melrose coach Scott Celli. “I thought we had a great game plan against them. Took away their first pass. Just in Games 3 and 4, we just couldn’t block anything they had. They just dictated all the points.”
The Rangers grabbed an early 4-3 lead in the fifth and never looked back.
Sophomore Emma Randolph (17 kills) and seniors Lily Fitzgerald (29 assists) and Saoirse Connolly (9 kills) led the Red Raiders.
Frontier 3, Bourne 0 — The Red Hawks (17-6) swept the Canalmen, 25-11, 25-21, 25-15, for their seventh championship in eight years.
“All these guys were sophomores and freshmen in 2015,” said Frontier coach Sean MacDonald. “It’s really special because they were on those [state championship] teams cheering on the bench, and now they’re on the floor. I get old, but this doesn’t get old because I get to see the joy.”Dan McLoone can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.