Timberlane Owls Boys Volleyball '08

Fri, Oct 31, 2008 06:00 PM @ Salem
Team 1 2 3 Final
Playoff Game
Timberlane 19 23 18 0
Salem 25 25 25 4
Jarrod Thompson, Staff PhotographerMore photos

Salem captures fifth straight tile

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Friday, October, 31 By Dave Dyer
Staff writer

DERRY, N.H. — Ultimately, as the Salem boys volleyball team showed last night, the cream always rises to the top.

Slowed a bit in the first two games by a spirited Timberlane squad, the Blue Devils (19-0) put it together in the final game to complete a 25-19, 25-23, 25-18 sweep and, with their nation’s-best 93rd straight victory, captured their fifth straight Division 1 state title.

“I’m really excited by this one because this team had no connection to the first (state championship) team,” said Salem coach E.J. Perry. “With the streak, there’s a lot of pressure on these kids, but they always come through when you need them to.

“I really think this is my most talented team, with so many guys contributing. Last year, when we won it, the Keene coach said it was all because of Dan Tiner. You can’t single out one guy on this team.”

Indeed, the Blue Devils had four players with at least nine kills, leading with senior Meme Okeke with 15 and followed by juniors Jason Kinney (14) and Dan Tiner (11) and impressive sophomore Joe Gallant (9).

Still, despite being outnumbered at the net and less experienced, the No. 2-seed Owls (14-5) provided a good battle. They held leads in all three games and seemed to have momentum in the first game, leading 12-9, until Perry called timeout.

“That timeout was to tell Jason (Kinney) and my juniors that there was no excuse to be down, and it was time to step up,” said Perry. “We didn’t have the intensity and we weren’t aggressive enough.”

The message seemed to sink in as — led by Okeke’s four kills and a block down the stretch — Salem went on a 16-7 run to take command.

“Maybe nerves got the best of us for awhile, but we felt we had the best team and we were confident we’d win,” said Kinney. “We just got off to a slow start.”

The second game, which ended with an Okeke kill, was even tighter. But with Kinney and Tiner saving their best play for last, the Owls pretty much cruised in the final game, even inserting some little-used substitutes toward the end.

“Teams can usually play one good game against us, and tonight they (Timberlane) played two, but we’re like a boxer,” said Perry. “We take their best shoy and we’re still standing.”

Also pitching in mightily for Salem were senior captain Sean Stewart with 12 service points and C.J. DeMarco with 11 digs.

For Salem, junior Matt Dionne had a big night with 10 kills, two more than Tim Anderson, and Terry Matatall combined seven blocks with six kills.

“We came out with intensity and I thought played together really well,” said Timberlane coach John Dube. “We just needed a bit more, but I was really proud of our effort.”

The Owls, as well as the rest of New Hampshire, will need more than just a bit more next year to dethrone Salem, which returns six of its top eight players.

Game Statistics:

Kills: S — Meme Okeke 15, Jason Kinney 14, Dan Tiner 11; T — Matt Dionne 10, Tim Anderson 8

Blocks: S — Kinney 6, Okeke 4; T — Terry Matatall 7

Assists: S — Chris Barnes 33; T — Connor Dube 34

Service points (aces): S — Sean Stewart 14

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