TEWKSBURY - The new MIAA Div. 3 State tournament just keeps getting more and more appealing for the Tewksbury High volleyball team.
The Redmen will be playing a third tournament game for the first time since Allie Luppi became head coach, five years ago, after winning the first round and round of 16 games over Apponequet and Greater New Bedford, respectively, both by 3-0 scores.
The Redmen are ready to plunge into the deeper waters of the final eight, also known as the quarterfinals. Tewksbury will host eighth seed Ashland, Thursday evening at 5 p.m.
"We did awesome," said Luppi, pleased to be advancing.
Greater New Bedford came to Tony Romano Court, Tuesday night, for the round of 16, and the Redmen defeated the Lady Bears, 25-13, 28-26, 25-5.
Tewksbury moved smoothly through the first game, propelled by the serving game of Jennie Lester. When the junior began her turn to put the ball in play, the Redmen led, 7-4, when Greater New Bedford finally stopped her, the score was 18-5.
It was not long before Tewksbury was serving at 24-7, but then the Redmen had a hiccup and the Lady Bears scored six points in a row before Tewksbury got the set point.
The second set was a grind throughout for the Redmen, as they had trouble establishing any consistency while Greater New Bedford played its best set. Tewksbury was in the lead until the Bears took their first lead of the match at 11-10, prompting a Redmen timeout at 12-10.
"The first set they missed a few serves in the beginning, and in the second set they really turned it on, serving-wise," said Luppi. "We just weren't ready for serve receive and we struggled."
Tewksbury continued to trail by a small amount until it caught the Lady Bears at 24-23. But Greater New Bedford came back and got two set points at 24-25 and 25-26 before the Redmen rallied with three points in a row to win the second set.
"It really shook our confidence for a minute, and we really had to battle," said Luppi. "I was really proud of how they stuck with it and didn't get timid, and really fought through those tough moments."
That loss seemed to put the Lady Bears on tilt, as they had nothing much left for the third set. Tewksbury moved out to a 6-3 lead when Lester went on another successful serving binge, this one ending with the score, 22-4.
"Jennie had an absolutely phenomenal game serving," said Luppi. "She had 31 serves, which is incredible. She had two huge runs, eleven in a row in the first set and 16 in a row in the third set."
The Redmen put the finishing touches on the victory, soon after.
"It took us awhile to settle in, but I'm super proud," said Luppi.
Kiley Kennedy 16 assists and one block-assist, Katie and Maddie Cueva both had six kills. Vanessa Green had five kills and two block-assists, and Tori Rowe had four kills. Lester also had eight digs and four aces. Carrina Barron had six digs, Maddie Cueva had one block-assist, and Ava Nordbruch had three aces.
The top-seeded Redmen opened up the tournament on Thursday with a straight set victory over the Lakers, 25-17, 25-15, 25-10
"We were really consistent throughout," said Luppi. "Everyone played exactly how they needed to play."
Kiley Kennedy was the player of the game, pacing Tewksbury with 21 assists, nine digs and five aces.
The kills were well-distributed with Katie Cueva leading the way with nine, and twin sister Maddie Cueva not far behind with six kills. Tori Rowe had three kills, and Jennie Lester, Vanessa Green and McKayla Conley all had two kills.
Carrina Barron had eight digs and four aces. Vanessa Green had five block assists and one solo block while dominating at the net.
"There wasn't any moments like we saw today (Tuesday) where one minute we had it all together, and the next minute we needed to pull it together," said Luppi. "The competition was not as competitive that day as it was today, so we didn't have those moments where it got chaotic. We were cool, calm and collected the whole time."