Andover Golden Warriors Boys Volleyball '22

Sat, Jun 04, 2022 01:00 PM @ Haverhill
Team 1 2 3 Final
Andover 16 21 23 0
Haverhill 25 25 25 3

Hillies advance

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Saturday, June, 04 By Jeff Hamrick

HAVERHILL – Not long ago, things looked bleak for the Haverhill boys volleyball squad. With a Covid outbreak and injuries dragging them down, the Hillies were hovering around the .500 mark entering the second week of May.

But improved health quickly restored the ailing record.

In Sunday’s rubber match between the two league rivals, the 11th-seeded Hillies opened Division 1 tournament play with a convincing three-set victory over No. 22 Andover in the Round of 32. Winning for the seventh time in eight outings, Haverhill (13-5) outscored the Warriors 25-16, 25-21, 25-23.

“I know (Andover) beat us once, and then the next time, we beat them pretty good,” said outside hitter Aaron Bennett, who had a team-high 13 blocks. “We just tried to run more stuff (Sunday). We worked a lot in practice on teamwork and rotation work. We’ve gotten a lot better since the first time they beat us.”

In its past eight matches, which includes a straight-set loss to St. John’s Prep in the regular-season finale, 11th-seeded Haverhill has won 21 of the 26 sets.

“Down the stretch we’ve been playing much more consistently,” said Haverhill coach Vincent Pettis, who also missed three matches with an eye issue that has improved. “We had a couple bumps in the road during the season. We had to shut down for a week for Covid. We also had a couple of injuries, so we didn’t really gel until the middle of the season. And then we all got healthy at the begin of that (26-day) schedule.”

After watching Andover take a 2-0 lead in the first set, Haverhill controlled matters, opening a six-point lead at 11-5 and cruising from there. The Hillies built a 10-point lead in the second set before the Warriors went on a 10-3 run to make things closer.

“We’ve had a lot of frustration this year with injuries and the week off,” Bennett said. “Today, we just came in and played. We played as a team and just played great.”

In a third set that featured eight ties, Andover held several leads behind the hitting of Owen Chanthaboun, who shared match-high honors with 13 kills. The Warriors, who were playing without sophomore standout Marco Gomez-Cabo, who was out with pneumonia, opened a 16-14 lead after a kill by Reuben Osborn.

But the Hillies rallied for the next five points with Bennett serving a couple aces. Co-captains Ryan DiFloures (nine kills, 11 digs) added three kills down the stretch as Haverhill held off Andover.

In the Sweet 16, Haverhill travels to No. 6 Lowell (19-1) for a 5 p.m. game Monday.

“We’re hoping that we’re starting to click at the right time,” Pettis said. “We played (Lowell) in our (fourth game) and then in the middle of the season. In fact, after that (second match) was when we went on our run. Lowell is very good.”

Lowell won both regular-season matches by scores of 3-1 and 3-2, which included an epic 26-24 game-four Haverhill win to force the tiebreaker. Despite the losses, their late-season success has the Hillies optimistic.

“The last time we played them it was right after the week off with COVID, and we took them to five sets,” Bennett said. “So, I think it’s going to be a good game. I think we can win.”

Game Statistics:

Kills: Andover — Owen Chanthaboun 13; Haverhill — Aaron Bennett 13, Ryan DiFloures 9, Dionis Llupo 8, Casey Connors 6

Blocks: Andover — Chanthaboun 1; Haverhill — Connors 1

Assists: Andover — Dowol Lee 22; Haverhill — Devon Buscema 34

Service points (aces): Andover — Lee (4); Haverhill — Bennett (2)

Digs: Andover — Enzo Masters 14; Haverhill — DiFloures 11

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