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Winnisquam downs top-seeded Inter-Lakes for D-III championship

  • Winnisquam's Gabrielle Isabelle (left) and Olivia Doubleday embrace following their 3-0 win over Inter-Lakes at Friday's Division III volleyball championship game at Pinkerton Academy in Derry on Nov. 3, 2017. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) Elizabeth Frantz—Monitor staff

  • Winnisquam celebrates their 3-0 win over Inter-Lakes at Friday's Division III volleyball championship game at Pinkerton Academy in Derry on Nov. 3, 2017. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) Elizabeth Frantz—Monitor staff

  • Winnisquam's Talia DeBlasie (7) sets the ball during Friday's Division III volleyball championship game at Pinkerton Academy in Derry on Nov. 3, 2017. Winnisquam defeated Inter-Lakes, 3-0. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) Elizabeth Frantz—Monitor staff

  • Inter-Lakes's Emma Wheeler (9) serves during Friday's Division III volleyball championship game at Pinkerton Academy in Derry on Nov. 3, 2017. Winnisquam defeated Inter-Lakes, 3-0. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) Elizabeth Frantz—Monitor staff

  • ABOVE: Winnisquam celebrates the final point in its 3-0 win against Inter-Lakes at Friday’s Division III volleyball championship game at Pinkerton Academy. BELOW: Inter-Lakes sophomore Emma Wheeler serves one up during the championship. Elizabeth Frantz photos / Monitor staff

  • Winnisquam's Gabrielle Isabelle (5) hits the ball during Friday's Division III volleyball championship game at Pinkerton Academy in Derry on Nov. 3, 2017. Winnisquam defeated Inter-Lakes, 3-0. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) Elizabeth Frantz—Monitor staff

  • Winnisquam's Shannon Goodwin (8) hits the ball during Friday's Division III volleyball championship game at Pinkerton Academy in Derry on Nov. 3, 2017. Winnisquam defeated Inter-Lakes, 3-0. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) Elizabeth Frantz—Monitor staff

  • Winnisquam defeated Inter-Lakes, 3-0, during Friday's Division III volleyball championship game at Pinkerton Academy in Derry on Nov. 3, 2017. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) Elizabeth Frantz—Monitor staff

  • Winnisquam's Aubrey St. Onge (4) gets under the ball during Friday's Division III volleyball championship game at Pinkerton Academy in Derry on Nov. 3, 2017. Winnisquam defeated Inter-Lakes, 3-0. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) Elizabeth Frantz—Monitor staff

  • Winnisquam celebrates its 3-0 win over Inter-Lakes at Friday’s Division III volleyball championship game at Pinkerton Academy. Winnisquam lost to the Lakers in the regular season, but learned from that expereince to claim its first championship since 2012. Elizabeth Frantz / Monitor staff

  • Winnisquam defeated Inter-Lakes, 3-0, during Friday's Division III volleyball championship game at Pinkerton Academy in Derry on Nov. 3, 2017. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) Elizabeth Frantz—Monitor staff

  • Winnisquam defeated Inter-Lakes, 3-0, during Friday's Division III volleyball championship game at Pinkerton Academy in Derry on Nov. 3, 2017. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) Elizabeth Frantz—Monitor staff

  • Inter-Lakes's Jordan Durand (29) gets under the ball during Friday's Division III volleyball championship game at Pinkerton Academy in Derry on Nov. 3, 2017. Winnisquam defeated Inter-Lakes, 3-0. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) Elizabeth Frantz—Monitor staff

  • Winnisquam defeated Inter-Lakes, 3-0, during Friday's Division III volleyball championship game at Pinkerton Academy in Derry on Nov. 3, 2017. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) Elizabeth Frantz—Monitor staff

  • Inter-Lakes players retire to their bench after losing to Winnisquam 3-0 at Friday's Division III volleyball championship game at Pinkerton Academy in Derry on Nov. 3, 2017. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) Elizabeth Frantz—Monitor staff

  • Winnisquam celebrates their 3-0 win over Inter-Lakes at Friday's Division III volleyball championship game at Pinkerton Academy in Derry on Nov. 3, 2017. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) Elizabeth Frantz—Monitor staff

  • Winnisquam celebrates their 3-0 win over Inter-Lakes at Friday's Division III volleyball championship game at Pinkerton Academy in Derry on Nov. 3, 2017. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) Elizabeth Frantz—Monitor staff



Monitor staff
Saturday, November 04, 2017

DERRY – Their biggest game of the season may have happened two weeks ago. It also happened to be the Winnisquam volleyball team’s only loss.

“Almost every kid watched it today or yesterday,” Winnisquam Coach Mike Livernois said of the game tape of the Bears’ 3-1 loss to Inter-Lakes in the regular-season finale. “I think it was really important for them to see it and say, ‘Okay, we know what we did wrong and we know what we need to fix.’”

The self-review proved to be the right move.

No. 2 Winnisquam showed up to Pinkerton Academy on Friday and played like a completely different team, exacting some revenge on No. 1 Inter-Lakes by overpowering the Lakers in three sets on the way to the its third Division III championship in the last eight seasons.

“I think you saw a team that has been to the semifinals, they were there last year and some of these girls played in the finals in 2015,” Livernois said. “So they were prepared for it. They executed and they did what they were supposed to do.

“They played well under pressure in the biggest game when they needed to,” he added. “You can’t say enough about that. They earned it. It’s all them.”

The title match was a bout between an undefeated group of up-and-comers against an experienced team with something to prove. Led by breakthrough sophomore Emma Wheeler, the Lakers were playing in their first championship since 2004 with a perfect 17-0 record on the line. Winnisquam marched in with three junior captains, a 17-1 record and a squad that had been to the final four in each of the last three seasons.

This time experience won out.

Winnisquam opened the match with a pair of haymakers, downing Inter-Lakes, 25-19 and 25-16, in the first two sets.

“We just wanted to give it all we had,” said Winnisquam’s Gabby Isabelle, who took over in the second set and finished with 13 kills and 16 digs. “Coach Kev (Kevin Archibald) kept telling me to leave it all on the floor. He told everyone to leave it on the floor because it’s our last game.”

Inter-Lakes trailed by as many as 11 points in the first set before punching its way back late. The Lakers were forced to do the same in the second, falling behind 15-4 until a 9-2 rally put some pressure on Winnisquam.

“I think nerves probably got to us a little bit,” Inter-Lakes Coach Randy Mattson said. “We never really got a rhythm and Winnisquam played great. … I kept saying to the team during timeouts that when you get to the championship, you have to play great. (Winnisquam) was playing great and we had a hard time trying to stop them.”

The hardest ones to stop were Isabelle and Shannon Goodwin. The duo combined for 28 kills, taking complete control at times for the Bears, whose offense was orchestrated to perfection by setter Talia DeBlasie (34 assists, four digs, two aces).

“Gabby had a huge night and they couldn’t stop her,” Livernois said. “As soon as Wheeler got to the back row, (Inter-Lakes) didn’t have a blocker to stop Gabby. And Shannon did a pretty good job of hitting around the big blocks when (Wheeler) was there. So it was just a balanced offense.”

Goodwin was especially effective in the clinching match for the Bears.

With nerves behind them and the Lakers finally settled in, Inter-Lakes stormed ahead in the third set and held a 13-8 lead midway through. But Goodwin collected four kills and one ace down the stretch and Winnisquam finished the match on an 8-0 run to win, 25-17.

“I think when we played them (during the regular season), we reached a point when we’re down and it’s just so hard to get back up,” DeBlasie said. “I think they reached that, too, when it was point after point, again and again.”

It was a disappointing end to a milestone season for Inter-Lakes, which falls one win shy of a perfect season and the program’s first-ever title.

“I’m enormously proud and we accomplished a lot,” Mattson said. “We came a long way. We have a young team with some great senior leadership and we had all the components that we needed for a really great team so I’m just really proud for sure.”

Wheeler finished with nine kills and six service points in the losing effort for the Lakers, who also received solid contributions from Jessalyn Brown (20 assists), Hailey Hart (four kills) and Ava Duymazlar (six digs).

“We finished 18-1, the same record they finished with,” Mattson said. “I just told them that when you get down to the end and you play in important games, it’s going to be the team that plays the best who wins.”

On this night, that team was the Winnisquam Bears.