Goodwin paces Winnisquam girls’ volleyball past Inter-Lakes for D-III title, perfect season

  • Winnisquam’€™s Shannon Goodwin follows through on one of her kills against Inter-Lakes at the Division III girls’ volleyball championship on Friday at Plymouth State University. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff

  • Winnisquam’€™s Gabrielle Isabelle follows through on her shot against Inter-Lakes at Plymouth State Friday night, November 2, 2018. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • As Rebekah Persson (11) looks on, Winnisquam’€™s Gabrielle Isabelle recovers a slam against Inter-Lakes at the Division III Championships at Plymouth State on Friday night, November 2, 2018. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Winnisquam’€™s Olivia Dill (center) leads the celebration after the Bears capped their undefeated season with a win over Inter-Lakes for the Division III girls’ volleyball championship at Plymouth State on Friday night, November 2, 2018. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

Monitor staff
Published: 11/3/2018 12:01:17 AM

PLYMOUTH – Shannon Goodwin saved her best for last.

“I thought Shannon played the match of her career. She was on fire tonight,” Winnisquam coach Mike Livernois said. “When you get 20 kills and 17 digs you’re going out on a high as a senior on an undefeated state champion.”

With Goodwin leading the way, the top-ranked Bears capped a 19-0 season with their second straight Division III championship on Friday night at Plymouth State University. Just like last year, Winnisquam beat Inter-Lakes in the final, 3-0. And winning the back-to-back titles is what propelled Goodwin, the defending D-III Player of the Year, to those new heights in her final high school game.

“I think it was because no other (Winnisquam) team has won back-to-back state championships before, and this team really wanted to do that,” Goodwin said.

As good as she was, Goodwin had plenty of help. Gabby Isabelle finished with 14 kills and nine digs despite dealing with foot issues. Sarah Seymour had 17 digs, four aces and two kills, Aubrey St. Onge had nine digs and Rebekah Persson had four digs and two aces, and all three of them went on key service runs. And Olivia Dill had 13 digs and 34 assists, bringing her season total to 550, breaking the previous school record of 533.

“I thought the whole team played well,” Livernois said. “They never got down, they stayed focused the whole time. I was really proud of them.”

The coach had an extra bit of pride for Dill, who had never played setter at the varsity level before this season. She stepped into the role vacated by Talia DeBlaise, who was the D-III co-Player of the Year in 2017 along with Goodwin.

“(Dill) was amazing tonight,” Livernois said. “Everybody said, ‘Oh, what are you going to do (without DeBlaise)? We said we’ll find someone to do the job because that’s our philosophy, it’s the next person up, you do your job. Just play. Everything else will take care of itself.”

That includes the undefeated record, which never became a distraction for Winnisquam.

“We just played it one game at a time and looked at the game in front of us,” Goodwin said.

“We never had to deal with the undefeated stuff,” Livernois said. “They never got cocky about it, they never let it get to them, they just played.”

The truth is, these Bears didn’t let much get them, including Friday’s trip to the final with a state title, a perfect record and a piece of school history on the line.

“Everyone was pretty chill, a couple of us were even sleeping on the way here,” Goodwin said. “We’re not a team that gets pumped up before a game. We’re calm, cool and collected, and I think that’s what pulled us through tonight.”

It certainly helped Winnisquam get off to a hot start. The defending champs had a narrow 9-7 lead in the first set when Seymour stepped to the service line and went on a seven-point run that included two aces and pushed the lead to 16-7.

“(Serving) is a little nerve-wracking because it’s all the pressure on me, but I just go up there and do my job,” Seymour said. “It just goes over and in. That’s my job and I do it.”

The Bears needed all of the cushion Seymour’s service run provided as the Lakers (16-4) chipped away at the lead until it was down to 20-18. That’s when Goodwin and Isabelle rose to the moment, winning four of the last five points with two kills each, and Seymour, fittingly, served out the final point for a 25-20 win in the first set.

Neither team could find early service traction in the second set, but Inter-Lakes showed its fight by pushing to leads of 12-7 and 16-11.

“I thought the second set was never going to end,” Livernois said. “I felt like we were behind forever.”

The Bears got back in it as Seymour went on a three-point service run, St. Onge put together four-point run and eventually Winnisquam took a 21-18 lead. That’s when Inter-Lakes coach Randy Mattson called a timeout, and her Lakers came out of the break fired up. They played the next point like the match was on the line right then and there, but Winnisquam equaled the intensity and then some, winning what felt like the biggest point of the match on a Goodwin tip and going on to take a 25-18 second set win.

“That’s six seniors,” Livernois said of his team’s knack for winning the big point. “The girls were here last year, and some of them were here as a freshman … when we lost in the finals in 2015, so they saw it firsthand, they played in it last year and they saw what it took.”

After that comeback win in the second, the Bears were feeling good about the third.

“We were very confident,” Seymour said, “and we were pretty comfortable. We knew we had to just keep doing what we were doing.”

And that’s what they did. Winnisquam opened up a 6-2 third-set lead behind the serving of Persson, and when the Lakers came back to take a 10-9 edge, St. Onge went on a five-point service run. Inter-Lakes kept fighting behind great efforts from Emma Wheeler, Hailey Hart and Madisyn Wilson, but Winnisquam simply had the Lakers’ number. After losing to Inter-Lakes in the regular-season last year, the Bears have now won four straight against the Lakers, a stretch that includes two title games.

“Because of our rivalry it just makes it that much more fun against them,” Goodwin said. “We get that much more pumped to play them and we just really want to beat them.”

(Tim O’Sullivan can be reached at 369-3341 or or on Twitter @timosullivan20)

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