Sat, Jun 09, 2012
07:00 PM @
Salem holds off Astros for 8th straight title
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."
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.