Cloudy
60°
Cloudy
Hi 62° | Lo 50°

Winnisquam sweeps Exeter to claim Division III volleyball crown

  • Winnisquam players celebrate after winning their final set in the game against Nute during the division 3 state volleyball championships. Winnisquam defeated Nute 3-0. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

    Winnisquam players celebrate after winning their final set in the game against Nute during the division 3 state volleyball championships. Winnisquam defeated Nute 3-0.

    (ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff) Purchase photo reprints at PhotoExtra »

  • Winnisquam's Mo Raymond, left, returns the ball in the game against Nute during the division 3 state volleyball championships. Winnisquam defeated Nute 3-0. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

    Winnisquam's Mo Raymond, left, returns the ball in the game against Nute during the division 3 state volleyball championships. Winnisquam defeated Nute 3-0.

    (ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff) Purchase photo reprints at PhotoExtra »

  • Winnisquam players celebrate after winning their final set in the game against Nute during the division 3 state volleyball championships. Winnisquam defeated Nute 3-0. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)
  • Winnisquam's Mo Raymond, left, returns the ball in the game against Nute during the division 3 state volleyball championships. Winnisquam defeated Nute 3-0. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

PLYMOUTH – The numbers on the scoreboard told the tale of an easy day at the office. But there was a time, early on in the Division III final, when the Winnisquam girls’ volleyball team had every bit of its poise put to the test.

The Bears were losing. It was early, only the first set, but they were down six points, to a Nute team that had won both matches between the two teams during the regular season.

Coach Mike Livernois wasn’t worried. There was plenty of time to turn things around. And he knew his team was going to do it.

“They’ve fallen behind and come back, so we know they can do that,” he said. “They don’t panic, and that’s something we preach all the time. Don’t panic.”

His team got the message. The Bears won that set and came away with a 3-0 sweep over No. 5 Nute, securing their second Division III title in three years by scores of 25-22, 25-23 and 25-16.

“I’ve got great players,” Livernois said. “They respect the game, they respect their opponents. ... They’re driven. They want it. They want to be here on this stage.”

Winnisquam rebounded from its early deficit to win the first set by going on a 13-5 run that was sparked by kills from Mo Raymond, Hannah Chapin and Carissa Archibald. The next set, the Bears (16-4) were ahead, but had just seen Nute (16-4) fight back from 11-4 and 18-11 deficits to tie it. Sensing tension, Livernois called a timeout and brought his team together.

Different moment, same message.

“I said, ‘Do I look stressful here on the bench?’ ” he said. “ ‘You’re still ahead. So they scored a couple of points? Just keep going.’ ”

Livernois didn’t have to stop the game again. Again, Winnisquam responded, getting key points from Bailey Long and Elyssa Clairmont to eke out the two-point win.

The Rams were on the ropes, a surprising development considering Nute’s easy handling of the Bears during a pair of 3-1 wins during the season. But Livernois knew those scores didn’t tell the story – and he made sure his team did too.

“I said, ‘I have two numbers to throw at you. Eleven and 12,’ ” he said. “ ‘Eleven is the total number of points you lost to Nute by in the last match. Twelve is the number of service errors you made in that match.”

This time, the service line was where Winnisquam went to work finishing off the Rams. Clairmont, the captain and one of two seniors on the team, was one of the team’s best at the line with two aces to go with five kills, two blocks and 19 assists, while Long (three aces, four kills, two digs), Archibald (two aces, three kills, two blocks, 10 digs), Dallis Austin (two aces, seven digs) and Hannah Kilcoyne also served well.

“This season in general has been amazing,” Clairmont said. “I’ve been playing with these girls since middle school. ... To win it together, in my senior year, with all this happening, is amazing.”

The best serving performance, however, belonged to the other senior on the team, and with the score 21-16, Fely Pelletier applied the knockout blow. She scored the team’s final four points, and her final serve could only be returned weakly into the seats, giving her five aces on the night and setting off the celebration.

Right before the final serve, Pelletier, who also had two kills, tried to keep things simple.

“Don’t miss,” she said.

She had more to say about the win.

“I knew our girls could pull it off,” she said. “We knew they were going to come hard. We just wanted to do our best, and I think we did.”

It was a team effort, as Chapin (nine kills, three digs) and Raymond (five kills, seven digs) stood out near the net and Clarissa McDonald (five digs) helped lead a steady Winnisquam defense. The Bears did it all, which was just what their coach was expecting them to do.

“They’ve been playing in pressure-packed games all the way,” Livernois said. “They perform under pressure. ... They did their job, certainly did their best, and played to win.”

There are no comments yet. Be the first!
Post a Comment

You must be registered to comment on stories. Click here to register.