(Byfield MA) Triton coach Karen Christian said the game was “probably the highlight of the season,” and her team lost!
The Vikings (5-5) took Newburyport to five games on Wednesday night at Triton.
The Clippers (8-2) extend their win streak to seven. Their last loss was to Triton in March.
Newburyport won the first two games tonight, 25-19 and 25-15.
In those first two, Sydney Yim (Purdue commit) gave Triton trouble serving, setting, and finishing. Many of her finishes weren’t hard hits but, instead, dropped into open spaces.
I started thinking sweep and early evening.
The Vikings had other ideas.
“We flipped the switch in Games 3 & 4 and started making the plays we weren’t making before,” said Mia Berardino afterwards.
Suddenly the Vikings began to look like the team that had defeated the Clippers, 3-1, in March.
Triton took the next two games, 25-13 and 25-17.
The Vikings got off to good starts in both games and rode Newburyport errors to the two wins.
“We weren’t ourselves today,” said Newburyport coach Lori Solazzo post-match. “but player for player we’ve improve so much. My frustration is that I didn’t see the team I usually see most of the time.”
The level of play was remarkable at times. Hard hits were not definite winners.
Both teams had terrific setters (Molly Kimball and Sydney Yim) so there was a steady diet of hard hits provided.
There was a play in Game Four in which both Sydney Yim and Abigail Gillingham launched hard hits, only to have Triton find a way to play on and eventually get the point.
In three of the games, the team with the early lead went on to victory.
That held true in crucial Game Five. “We were overthinking it a bit early and we fell behind,” said Coach Christian.
The Vikings went down 6-1 and later 14-9. in the fifteen-point, deciding set, before turning on the “not-done-yet” button.
The Clippers struggled with four straight Evelyn Pearson serves and suddenly we had ourselves a 14-13 nail-biter!
A hard, deep hit by the Clippers was called in, and then it was called out, and then they decided to play it over again.
Fortunate for Triton because an “in” call ends the game. Fortunate for Newburyport because an “out” call ties the game at 14-14.
“Thank goodness that out-of-bounds play didn’t end it,” said Coach Solazzo afterwards.
Given a second chance to win the game, the Clippers got it done.
Newburyport seniors keyed the set/match winner. Kate Sarra received the serve and sent it to Sydney Yim. Sydney set the ball near the net for Abigail Gillingham. Abigail hit the ball through the Triton defense.
“Abigail had an amazing game,” said Sydney Yim. “She has been a huge part of our team this year.”
“The team buckled down at the end, showed some grit, and pulled this one out,” said Coach Solazzo.
“It certainly had the feel of a championship game to me,” said Coach Christian. “I would love to see them next week with the same energy.”
There will be a Cape Ann League tournament next week on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.
“Triton is a great team,” said Coach Solazzo. “They’re scrappy. They played their hearts out.”
Evelyn Pearson: “I’m proud of my team. We pulled our energy together. Newburyport was a lot more competitive than the first time we saw them.”
Mia Berardino: “It wasn’t the outcome we wanted but I’m proud of the way we played. I think if we play like this we can go far in the playoffs.”
The Clippers ended up undefeated (5-0) on the road.
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