Salem Blue Devils Boys Volleyball '12

Sat, Jun 09, 2012 07:00 PM @ Salem
Team 1 2 3 4 5 Final
Pinkerton 25 24 17 25 7 2
Salem 20 26 25 20 15 3

Salem holds off Astros for 8th straight title

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Wednesday, June, 13 By Jeff Hamrick

DERRY — Pinkerton did what very few New Hampshire volleyball teams have done since the sport was sanctioned eight years ago: Make Salem sweat.

While the second-seeded Astros did force the Blue Devils into a fifth game for the first time in Division 1 championship history and the only time this season, Salem once again prevailed for the program's eighth straight state title.

The Astros, who had won only one game in two regular-season matches against Salem, forced the decider with a convincing 25-20 victory in the fourth game. That left the Blue Devils one loss away from being the only Salem squad to lose a state finale.

"I got all our boys together and said, 'Hey this is what championship teams are made of,''' said Salem senior Jonathan Buatti, who had 13 kills, four blocks and three assists. "I told all my boys losing wasn't an option. I have full confidence and faith in these guys, so I knew there was no way we weren't walking out of this gym with this state championship."

But considering Salem's success rate when taking to the limit, there wasn't much reason for optimism. It might be a small sample size, but the only previous time the Blue Devils had to go five games the past two seasons, Timberlane ended their 125-game winning streak on May 27, 2011.

"We went into it with Timberlane last year, and we all know that didn't work out too well for us," Buatti said. "But we knew it would never happen two times like that."

And he proved prophetic as Salem buckled down and ran away with a 15-7 victory for the program's 148th victory in 149 matches.

Pinkerton, which has never beaten Salem, jumped out to the early lead with a 25-20 first-game victory. The Blue Devils, which had won all 18 previous regular-season matches by a combined 54-3 and seven previous title games by a combined 21-4, then tied the match with a tough 26-24 win in a game that featured nine ties.

Despite committing a slew of unforced errors the first three games, Salem grabbed a 2-1 advantage with a 25-17 win.

"I don't know what the problem was," first-year Salem coach John Roemer said of his teams' 44 unforced errors the first four games. "It might have been nerves. Basically I felt we were the better team. We just had to execute what we had to do."

Pinkerton, however, was on the verge of a huge upset winning a fourth game that featured 11 ties.

"It's not just Salem, Salem, Salem anymore," said Pinkerton coach Colin Walker, whose squad finished 15-4. "I think we made a statement that we're going to be part of the equation for years to come. We gave them a hell of a match. It's not just Salem wiping people off the board anymore. And we'll be back next year."

Game Statistics:

Salem 3, Pinkerton 2

Pinkerton 25 24 17 25 7 — 2

Salem 20 26 25 20 15 — 3

Kills: P - Justin Scott 15, Kyle Evans 9, Rory Cohoon 7; S - Brandon Ackroyd 17, Jonathan Buatti 13, Eric Denning 9.

Blocks: P - Cohoon 4; S - Denning 10, Buatti 4.

Assists: P - Kyle Heidler 23; S - Andrew Ruffen 40.

Aces: P - Cohoon, Evans, Heidler, Scott; S - Buatti 3, Ruffen 2.

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