Central Catholic Raiders Girls Volleyball '16

Wed, Nov 09, 2016 06:00 PM @ Central Catholic
Team 1 2 3 4 Final
Methuen 25 24 5 25 1
Central Catholic 19 26 25 27 3

Central overcomes Sullivan, Methuen

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LAWRENCE — Trailing Methuen 1-0 after the first game and 22-20 in the second game, No. 1 seed Central Catholic got the break it needed Friday night in the Division 1 North semifinals.

Rangers’ 6-foot-2 standout Abby Sullivan went to the bench when her rotation on the front line ended.

With Sullivan off the court, Central scored six of the next eight points to win the second game, 26-24,  and then went on for a 3-1 victory to advance to Saturday’s 6 p.m. title game in Wilmington against local rival Andover.

“She (Sullivan) is a great player and we had to just survive when she was in there and then take control,” said Central coach Gannon Paris. “That second game was really important. She got them off to a great start and we didn’t want to go down 2-0.”

With a little momentum on their side, the Raiders (19-2) romped to a 25-5 win in game three and then won a back-and-fourth final game, 27-25, for the win.

 In the third game, the Raiders opened up a 7-0 advantage behind the serving of Emma Geary and scored the last nine points on the serving of Ashlie Dykeman, who led all servers with 17 points and four aces and also had 13 kills.

“Serving has always been a strong thing for me,” said Dykeman. “After the first game, we were all a little down and we talked about attitude and going after it.”

Also in the third game, Sullivan — who finished with a game-high 19 kills and 8 blocks — was held to a single kill, a number more to the Raiders’ liking, while Central took control.

“We worked a lot in practice on keeping it away from the middle (and Sullivan),” said Dykeman. “But our main goal was to attack hard so they couldn’t set her up.”

The Rangers, who also got a strong performance at the net from Hailey McDonnell, were able to set Sullivan up more in the fourth game, however, which helped make for a tight game that had eight lead changes.

But, after getting her fifth kill of the game to tie it at 25, Sullivan again went to the bench, allowing the Raiders to score the last two points for the win, the final coming on a Katie Kirsch block.

Kirsch had her best game of the season at the net with 10 kills and illustrated Central’s depth. Thanks to the usually fine passing of Katherine Antczak (46 assists), Julia Zargaj led a balanced attack with 14 kills, one more than Dykeman and three more than Kirsch. Hallie Dunn added seven.

“It’s basketball first for Katie, but she’s really coming on (in volleyball),” said Dunn. “I’ll speak to our depth all the time. We’re hard to defend because of it.

“We’ve been controlling the moment but, for whatever reason, we weren’t doing what we wanted at the start. But we calmed ourselves and got it figured out.”

For Methuen (17-6), junior Laura Staugler had 27 assists, Kate Hulme had 15 service points and Cristina Lucas finished with 13 digs. McDonnell, Julia McCoy and Jacqueline Cassidy generally played well when Sullivan was off the court.

“We had our chances but that’s a very good Central team and I think it came down to tournament experience,” said Methuen coach Matt Twomey. “Except for Abby (at North Middlesex the last two years), none of our girls had played in the tournament.

“But we had a great season and next year we’ll be one of the best teams in the league, I’m not afraid to say, and expect to go further in the tournament. We have a lot of young talent coming back.”

And it starts with Sullivan, who had double-digit kills in every game of the season.

The Raiders, meanwhile, turns its attention to Andover, which defeated North Andover 3-0 Thursday. Central and Andover split matches during the regular season.

Game Statistics:

Division 1 North Semifinals

Kills: CC — Julia Zargaj 14, Ashlie Dykeman 13, Katie Kirsch 10, Hallie Dunn 7; M — Abby Sullivan 19, Hailey McDonnell 11

Blocks: CC — Dunn 3, Kirsch 2; M — Sullivan 8

Assists: CC — Katherine Antczak 46; M — Laura Staugler 27 

Service points (aces): CC — Dykeman 17 (4); M — Kate Hulme 15

Digs: CC — Elise Flamia 27; M — Cristina Lucas 13

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