TEWKSBURY — This may not be the season the Tewksbury High girls’ volleyball team ends up sitting alone atop the Merrimack Valley Conference Small, but the Redmen still have bigger aspirations for the postseason in their sights.
Tewksbury saw its seven-match win streak come to an end against Lawrence, the defending MVC Small champs, Monday night at Tony Romano Court. The Lancers completed the season series sweep with another straight set victory, 25-22, 25-22, 28-26.
While each set was competitive, particularly the third, Redmen coach Allie Luppi felt her team needed to play better in the home stretch of each game.
“We were right there and battled through the whole match,” she said. “We were taking the early lead in each set, and then letting them catch up, and then we battled back and forth the rest of the time.”
There is still a chance the Redmen could get a share of the MVC Small title. That could happen if Tewksbury beats Haverhill, next week, and Haverhill then beats Lawrence in the Hillies’ next match. That happened in the first half of the season.
“We are not out of it, but it just wasn’t our best game,” said Luppi, of Monday’s match. “But it’s a game that is going to help us move forward and help us grow and be mentally tougher.”
The three games followed a similar pattern, but when the chips were down in the latter stages of each set, it was the Lancers who were coming up with the pivotal points, not as was the case for Tewksbury through out its winning streak.
“What I hadn’t seen in awhile was that we were serving out on big points when the match was in the 20s, which we can’t do,” said Luppi. “We also sent some free balls over, which we normally don’t do. We just didn’t play like ourselves.”
Alli Wild had her usual great game, leading the Redmen with 20 kills, to go along with six digs, a block and an ace. Alexa Harrington was there as usual with her 28 assists and two aces. Kaitie Cueva had five kills, Emily Butler had seven digs and two aces, and Lizzy Taggart had two kills, an ace and a block assist. Carinna Barron had five digs and Emma Demos had three, to go along with an ace and a kill.
“We could have played better, but we never really settled,” said Luppi. “We would get up, then we’d start to fall apart, and then chip away. When it started to get close again, we’d make a big mental error, which is something I haven’t seen of late.”
Luppi feels the other hitters have to get going. Wild is doing more than her share, but the front line needs to be more balanced going forward.
Friday the Redmen beat Andover in straight sets, 25-20, 25-16, 25-12. Tewksbury started out well and got better as the match went along, notching its seventh straight win and improving its record to 8-2.
“It was great to see that we stayed aggressive the entire time,” said Luppi. “In each set we would get the lead and then furthered it with each game. We got our energy, we got our momentum and then ran with it, which I wished we had done against Lawrence.”
Alli Wild had led the Redmen with 18 kills, followed by Kaitie Cueva (4), Lizzy Taggart (3) and Becca DeFrancesco (3).
Alexa Harrington was on top of her game with 27 assists. Carinna Barron had seven digs and three aces, while Emily Butler 11 digs and an ace.
The week began with a sharp, 3-0 victory over Central Catholic at Tony Romano Court, 25-20, 25-16, 25-9.
The Redmen probably wished they could have played the Lancers on Friday, because they played great on Wednesday against the Red Raiders.
“Our serve receive was strong and our defense was scrappy, which allowed our offense to have a great game swinging,” said Tewksbury coach Allie Luppi. “We also served aggressive while minimizing our serving errors. Overall, it was a great game for us.”
Setter Alexa Harrington set the tone with 27 assists, and Alli Wild benefitted from that passing with a team-high 19 kills. Outside hitter Katie Cueva and middle block Kiley Tibbetts also had good days at the net, contributing six kills apiece. Tibbets also had a block and a block assist, while Maddie Cueva had a block assist.
Harrington also got it done with her serves. In addition to two service aces, Harrington led the charge in the first set with an 11-serve run in the tightest of the three sets. Senior co-captain Emily Butler helped put the Crusaders away in the third set with a nine-serve run. She also had two aces, as did Carrina Barron.
Barron and Butler were also at the forefront when it came to digs. Barron had seven while Butler and Wild each had three.