Colonels fall to As­plen and the Ea­gles

Times-Record - - Sports - By DUSTIN HOLT dholt@ches­pub.com

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.

PHO­TOS BY DUSTIN HOLT

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.

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