By Christopher Smith firstname.lastname@example.org
---- — DERRY — After Salem lost 25-23 to Goffstown in an extremely intense, back-and-forth Game 1 of the Division 1 volleyball final yesterday, the Blue Devils knew they had to calm down.
”With the first game it was just a whole bunch of nerves,” junior Amanda Bickford said. “Everyone had so many nerves. After that game, we had a beautiful pep talk from our two assistant coaches and we just used that. And we decided to play as we have been this entire season.”
That’s what Salem did yesterday, winning in four games — 23-25, 25-23, 26-24, 25-17 — over feisty Goffstown to earn the Division 1 crown. The Blue Devils last won the title in 2007.
This match wasn’t as easy for Salem as during the regular season when the Blue Devils swept Goffstown on Sept. 7. But it doesn’t matter how pretty the win is when it is. All that matters is earning the trophy in the shape of New Hampshire.
Goffstown battled back from a 21-16 deficit in Game 4 to come within 24-23. It then came back from down 22-16 to Salem in Game 3 to tie the score 24-24 before the Blue Devils prevailed 26-24.
”We were playing a little too timid today,” Salem senior Hannah O’Shaughnessy admitted. “That’s why we were making some mistakes. But if we played as hard as we always have, then we knew we’d (win).”
The Blue Devils had three players with 10 kills or more. Olivia Burke posted 13 kills while Bickford had 11 and Alyssa Kolbert added 10.
Kelsey Card recorded 43 assists and Rachel Morrissey play magnificent defense with 26 digs.
”This whole year, it all been about the team,” first-year Salem coach John Roemer said. “We don’t have one or two people who stand out. Every single game this year someone else stood out. It was all year and tonight, you look at our stats and basically everybody had at least seven kills apiece, which is great. The setters did a great job. And it’s a big team effort to have that many people blocking and hitting.”
O’Shaughnessy added: “A lot of teams have one or two people who they aim for and always set. But we have a team that is 15 people deep and we always go hard. We always worked hard this season and we never let down and that’s why we got to where we are.”
Maybe the most important stretch for the Blue Devils was in Game 2 when they scored five straight points to bring a 14-14 tie to a 19-14 advantage.
O’Shaughnessy made it 15-14 with a tremendous kill. She then went to serve and recorded two aces during the five-point swing.
”She came to play, especially with serving — that was amazing,” Bickford said about O’Shaughnessy.
Burke finished off Goffstown with some monster kills in Game 4. She had two kills — then followed that with a block to put Salem ahead 22-17.
“Every time Olivia hits I just get an adrenaline rush,” O’Shaughnessy said.
Burke added: “It’s so great. Everyone’s so excited. I had tears of joy when we got that last point. Everyone put their all into tonight, and I don’t think anyone is going to look back and say, ‘I wish I did that better.’”
Salem 3, Goffstown 1
Div. 1 State Final
Kills: S — Olivia Burke 13, Amanda Bickford 11, Alyssa Kolbert 10
Blocks: S — Burke 4.5, Brianna Wojtas 4, Kolbert 3.5
Assists: S — Kelsey Card 43
Service points (aces): S — Hannah O’Shaughnessy 13 (4), Alyssa Matthews 11 (4), Wojtas 11
Digs: S — Rachel Morrissey 26
Goffstown (17-5): 25 23 24 17 — 1
Salem (21-1): 23 25 26 25 — 3