Winnisquam volleyball upsets Farmington, 3-1, in Division III semifinal
PLYMOUTH – It would have been easy to dismiss the Winnisquam girls’ volleyball team’s late-season victory over Farmington and call it what it seemed to be. One match. The Tigers had won their first 14 matches of the season, after all. They were due for a loss sooner or later.
But Bears Coach Mike Livernois noticed a couple of things about Farmington that day – on the court and off.
“That’s a senior-dominated team, they’re the No. 2 seed and they were 14-0 up until their last two matches of the season,” he said. “Once they felt like they weren’t invincible anymore, I think that put a little bit of pressure on them.”
Livernois also noticed that the Tigers preferred to set up for the hard spike – meaning players set up near the net, and space farther back was there for the taking.
“When we looked at the film, the floor was wide open,” he said. “We did a lot of tipping … and the longer that went on, the more that opened up the floor.”
Yesterday, both facets came together in the Division III semifinals. No. 6 Winnisquam surprised, stifled and frustrated Farmington early and often, earning a 3-1 victory and moving a victory over No. 5 Nute away from its second title in three years.
“I know part of it was the fact that we just played them and came back and beat them in five at our place,” Livernois said. “But I think that seed was there. They knew that we were capable of it if we played well.”
The Bears had made strides against Farmington during the season, getting that 3-2 win in the rematch after getting shut out in the first match of the season, and the trend continued yesterday. Winnisquam looked poised and in control from the opening serve, breezing past the Tigers in the first set by getting runs of five and eight straight points en route to a 25-14 win.
Farmington (16-3) recovered to win a back-and-forth second set, 26-24, but Winnisquam took control back for good in the third. The Bears went on a 6-0 run to break a 3-3 tie, and then went on another five-point run before winning, 25-19. Farmington never threatened in the fourth set, as Winnisquam scored nine of the first 11 points and rolled to a 25-12 win to take the match.
“I think they started to get down on themselves,” said junior Hannah Chapin, who led the team with 18 kills while also notching 10 digs. “Once our team saw that, that just gave us more energy. We kind of fed off of them getting negative. I think it really just helped us.”
Winnisquam’s strategy at the net was only part of its success. The Bears made it a point to keep Farmington from getting on a roll, which they did via the serve game. Elyssa Clairmont (eight kills, 35 assists, two blocks), Hannah Kilcoyne and Bailey Long (10 kills) had nine, eight and four aces, respectively, and were consistently able to keep the Bears on the offensive.
“These last three or four games, we’ve been playing really well,” Clairmont said.
Livernois also pointed out his team’s success on defense and in returning serves, which was paced by Chapin, Dallis Austin (16 digs), Mo Raymond (12 digs, seven kills) and Carissa Archibald (seven digs, four kills, two aces).
“I think we served really well. I think when our serves were on, it was really difficult for them,” Livernois said. “I thought our defense was really strong. We picked up a lot of balls, kept a lot of rallies alive. … I can show them where to go all the time. They have to execute, and they really did a good job.”