Colonels fall to Asplen and the Eagles
SHILOH — Picking the better team in Wednesday evening’s Class 1A East Section II volleyball final would have been difficult, considering the constant momentum swings.
Picking the best player on the floor was quite easy. North Dorchester High junior Leann Asplen dominated action, leading the top-seeded Eagles to a 23-25, 25-12, 25-21, 17-25, 15-11 victory over No. 2 Colonel Richardson and a spot in the regional final for the second straight year.
Asplen recorded 15 kills, 21 assists and 11 aces, and at one stretch between the second and third sets, served four times and helped North Dorchester gain 21 points.
“It is an amazing feeling to be going to the regional final again this year,” Asplen said. “I’m super proud of all my teammates. They played so hard. We gave it all we had.
“This is a total team victory,” Asplen added. “Everyone made big plays. Everyone communicated. I’m so happy to be a part of this.”
North Dorchester head coach Carol Hubbard said Asplen may only be 5 foot 2, but she plays like she is 6 foot 2.
“Leann is such a great all-around player,” Hubbard said. “Her serves gave us so much momentum against an excellent Colonel Richardson team. Leann is an outstanding setter and passer. She also is a great finisher. She does it all. She did it all tonight.
“I’m just so proud for our seniors who started as freshmen when the program began,” Hubbard added. “It just means a lot for us to make the region final for a second straight year. I’m just so proud of everyone on this team.”
Colonel (5-12) trailed 11-6 in the first set but rallied on the inside play of seniors Ally Miller and Kathryn France and underclassman Jayla Johns. The trio helped the Colonels claw back into the match with superior inside play. Twice Johns’ blocks resulted in points. Miller and France added two kills each to even the score at 17-17.
Junior Jennifer Larrimore’s ace gave the Colonels the lead. Senior Rachel Jessee’s pass to KaNyha Raikes began a 6-2 run with the Colonels serving for match point.
The Eagles closed with 24-23, but Colonel got the final point to take the set.
North Dorchester came back strong in the second set. Leading 12-10, Asplen used her serve to start a 7-0 run, recording three aces in the span. She also assisted on Georgie Turner’s kill to put the Eagles up 17-10. ND pulled away with Jenna Usilton notching two kills to end the set.
The teams traded points to start the third set but once Asplen took the serve, the Eagles pulled away on a 6-0 run to lead 9-3.
The Colonels battled back with two kills by Raikes to take a 14-13 lead. The Eagles regained the lead on the serve of senior Brooke Harding. The four-point spurt put North Dorchester up for good. Turner (nine kills) delivered another powerful kill to give the Eagles the third set.
The fourth set was tied, 13-13, before Miller and France took over for the Colonels. Miller notched three kills in a 5-0 run to give the Colonels an 18-13 lead.
The Eagles closed within 19-17 but a big kill by Miller started a 6-0 closing run. France scored two kills to even the match at 2-2.
“I can’t even express how proud I am of the girls,” Colonel head coach Stephanie Garey said. “They showed tonight how good they became over the course of the season. They worked super hard, and you could see tonight they were ready for the challenge.
“My seniors played a heck of a game,” Garey added. “Kathryn France, Ally Miller, Rachel Jessee and Sophie Harkowa left it all out on the floor tonight.
“Down 2-1, the whole team showed so much heart to come back on the road against a really great North Dorchester team,” she continued. “They hung in there during the fifth set. Our improvement over the season will be a great lasting impression for me.”
Tied 8-8, the Eagles used a three-point spurt to gain the advantage in the final set. Colonel closed within 11-10, but the North Dorchester’s crisp passing allowed for open shots by the Eagles’ outside hitters.
Turner put the final point on the board, giving North Dorchester the victory.
Savanna Nossick finished with 10 kills. Harding added six kills.
Colonel Richardson’s Ally Miller blocks a shot for a point against North Dorchester Wednesday, Nov. 8.
Colonel Richardson’s Rachel Jessee sets the ball for a teammate against North Dorchester Wednesday, Nov. 8.