Andover Golden Warriors Girls Volleyball '14

Thu, Nov 13, 2014 07:00 PM @ Andover
Team 1 2 3 Final
Natick 17 9 17 0
Andover 25 25 25 3

Andover clinches first trip to volleyball final since 2005 with dominant victory

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Thursday, November, 13 By David Willis
Staff writer

TEWKSBURY — For three years, Azita Bakhtyari dreamed of playing in the state championship game, only to finish just short of her goal.

On Thursday night, Bakhtyari and her Andover High teammates made the fantasy a reality, and did so in decisive fashion.

Led by dominant performances from the senior co-captain along with the likes of Maddy Reppucci, the North champion Golden Warriors rolled over Central/West champion Natick 25-17, 25-9, 25-17 in the Division 1 state semifinal, earning a berth in the Division 1 state championship game.

“It is just amazing,” said Bakhtyari. “We lost in the Division 1 semifinals each of the last two years and in the North finals when I was a freshman, so I feel like we broke the curse tonight. I can’t even describe how amazing it is. It’s a burden off of our shoulders. It’s just out of this world!”

Andover now advances to take on Central/East champion Newton North for the Division 1 state title on Saturday at 6 p.m. at Fitchburg High School. Newton North (20-3) shocked perennial power Barnstable 3-1.

“It is beyond incredible,” said co-captain Mackenzie Kennedy, who tied for the team-high with 12 digs. “It almost doesn’t feel real. After making the state semifinals so many times, it felt like it was our time to win. It hurt to come so close and fall short, so we went into this game ready to take the prize. We went out, played our game and it was great.”

This marks the Golden Warriors’ first trip to the state championship game since the 2005 season, when they fell to perennial powerhouse Barnstable. That was Andover’s first trip to the finals in program history, according to 27-year head coach George Sullivan, who now works as a volunteer assistant.

“I was crying I was so happy,” said an emotional Reppucci, who led the team with four blocks and tied for the lead with seven kills. “This is the best moment of my life. To finally make this last step is incredible. We weren’t overconfident, but we were excited and we felt like we were ready. Everyone just stepped up and was amazing.”

The first set played out in back-and-fourth fashion, before Wyllie Boughton gave the Warriors the momentum with a pair of big kills, Bakhtyari scored a point with an acrobatic over-the-head hit, and Amy Stankiewicz closed out the 25-17 set.

“I think we just needed to shake off the nerves,” said Bakhtyari, who had team-highs in assists (24) and digs (12). “Once the points started falling we started to feel very confident and very relaxed.”

Now in the groove, Andover flexed its muscle in a big way in the second set. With Boughton serving, the Warriors scored 11 straight points to take a dominant advantage and finished off a 25-9 win.

“We were so ready to go in the second set,” said Kennedy. “We just needed a little while to calm down and get over that it was the state semifinals. Once we did that, we weren’t going to let anything happen to allow this to get away.”

Natick showed a little life in the third set, taking a 6-2 advantage. But Reppucci scored kills in three straight volleys, and from their the Warriors never looked back.

“Boy did we ever play scrappy,” said Warriors coach Jane Bergin. “They covered one another and played as a team. All year we have worked towards goals, and tonight everything came to fruition. It was a tremendous game. There weren’t any superstars, and the stats show that. Everyone just stepped up.”

In an emotional turn of events, the final point was scored by senior Jackie Long, who missed the majority of the season with a back injury. She was then mobbed by her teammates in celebration.

“It was so amazing to see Jackie get that last point,” said Kennedy. “She deserved it. Azita really stepped up for us. She was running all over the place with a smile on her face the whole match making plays.”

The Warriors now hope to claim the first state volleyball title in team history.

“It is like having an out-of-body experience,” said Bergin. “It really is. Once we got comfortable we were able to control the tempo and do what we needed to. I am gushing about the girls. I am just so happy for them.”

Game Statistics:

Division 1 State Semifinals 

Kills: A — Maddy Reppucci 7, Wyllie Boughton 7

Blocks: A — Reppucci 4

Assists: A — Azita Bakhtyari 24

Digs: A — Mackenzie Kennedy 12, Bakhtyari 12

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