With Tuesday’s 3-1 victory over Oliver Ames, the volleyball team is just one win away from earning its first postseason bid since the program started four years ago.
OA traveled to Stoughton for the second meeting between the two Davenport Division rivals this season. In the first meeting at Oliver Ames, the Tigers came back after losing two of the first three sets and trailing late in the fourth set, to earn the five-set victory.
Stoughton also won two of the first three sets on Tuesday. The Black Knights jumped out to win the first two sets, 25-18 and 25-23, before losing the third set, 25-23.
Stoughton again gave up a big lead in the fourth, but in front of a home crowd, the Black Knights responded and took back the lead. They went on and captured the fourth set, 25-19, winning the match, 3-1.
With the win, Stoughton is now 8-6 overall (5-6 in the Hockomock League) and riding a five-match winning streak. The Black Knights now have won more games than in their first three years combined. Stoughton needs just one more win in their final four games of the regular season to clinch a first-ever postseason berth.
Meanwhile, OA (11-6 overall and 9-4 in the Hockomock League) had already clinched a postseason berth, but with four matches remaining, will probably have to settle for a second place finish in the Davenport Division, falling two games behind front-runner Canton.
Four of Stoughton’s seniors have been with the team since its inception, and they all played major roles in the win. Julia Quattrucci had a game-high 18 assists, Katherine Chlus and Malykah Lopes both had strong games at the net and Andrea Chica played well as the libero.
Lauren Carmichael, a junior, led the team with 10 kills and was among four hitters with more than eight kills in a very balanced team performance. Kayla Motley, a sophomore, and junior Nicole Daniels were dominant at the net combining for 13 blocks. The win was a total team effort by Stoughton as displayed by a season high 84 digs.
“We spread our offense around and we continue to have a lot of people doing a lot of things,” Stoughton coach Ken Gay said. “We still have to communicate better and call out our hitters to keep away from unforced errors. We also need more consistent serving and to stay positive when things begin to not go our way. We’re playing very well, but we can get better.”
Oliver Ames was led by senior captains Candace Steadman (seven kills, seven service points and six blocks) and Nicole Duffy-Protentis, who was solid at the net. Protentis injured her hand, late in the third set, and although she came back midway through the fourth set, was hampered the rest of the way, which hurt OA’s comeback chances. Caroline Meyer, a junior setter, contributed 17 assists for the Tigers.
Oliver Ames entered the game after a hard fought non-league victory, the previous night over Holbrook running its winning streak to three games, but looked a bit tired.
Stoughton jumped out to a quick 13-5 lead in the first set. OA cut the deficit to 13-11, but Stoughton responded with a 9-3 run on its way to a 25-18 first set win.
“We dug ourselves into a hole after a disappointing first set and we could never get out of it,” Oliver Ames coach Corinne McCarthy said. “We didn’t play well as a team, pointed fingers at each other and lacked intensity. This is not the time of the season to be starting bad habits and we have two days to get ready. We’re too good a team to play this way and it’s a very tough loss, but Stoughton deserves a lot of credit.”
Stoughton kept the momentum going into the second set jumping out to a 6-1 lead. OA came back and finally pulled even, 14-14. The rest of the set went back and forth, and with the match tied 23-23, Stoughton took the last two points to win the set, 25-23, and take a commanding two set lead.
OA took the third set breaking open a 12-12 score with five unanswered points. Stoughton battled back to cut the deficit to 24-23, but OA got the next point to take the set, 25-23, to stay alive and force a fourth set.
Stoughton again got off to a quick lead in the fourth set taking an 11-2 advantage and seeming to have the set and the match in hand. However, the Tigers came back, going on an 11-2 spurt themselves, tying the set, 13-13.
But Stoughton responded and never gave up the lead, going on a 10-4 run on its way to a 25-19 fourth set win to take the match and move to within one more victory of making team history.
“We still got some work to do and some improvements to make, but we’re playing as a team and getting better and more confident with every game,” Gay said.
Oliver Ames will next be in action on Friday hosting first place Canton, while Stoughton will try to clinch a postseason bid at Sharon, on the same day.