By Christopher Smith
---- — DERRY — Windham senior Melissa Cino put it best.
She said, “I was saying to my team that if I could choose one team to lose to, it would be them because they would be the only team after us that would deserve the championship.”
Top-seeded Coe-Brown won 3-1 over No. 2 seed Windham in the Division 2 volleyball championship match at Pinkerton Academy last night.
It was clear early in the first game that Coe-Brown was the better team. But it also was clear that the Jaguars weren’t going to go down without a fight.
Down 7-1 in the second game, the Jags came back to tie it 11-11 before losing, 25-19. But they then won the third set, 26-24, after trailing early, 12-6.
Coe-Brown swept the Jaguars earlier this season so coach Jill Bartlett and her players knew last night that staging an upset would be no easy task.
“There’s nothing that I’m unhappy about,” Bartlett said. “The girls were fantastic through the whole season. We pushed them hard. We pushed them to the max. And we got the max out of them.
“Looking back, it was just all worth it. We set some goals at the beginning of the season about where we wanted to go and what we’re committing to and reminded them during the season.”
Bartlett and her players set high goals. In this newspaper’s volleyball preview, Bartlett was quoted as saying her Jags wanted to make the third round of the tournament and advance to the championship.
“Our realistic goal was that we wanted to make it past the quarterfinals because we’ve never done that before,” Cino said. “And the fact that we made it this far, it’s just unbelievable. And we have such a young team.”
Windham should be primed for another deep playoff run next year. It graduates only two seniors, Cino and Lindsay Hillyer.
“It’s exciting to think of the girls who are returning and that they’ve been here,” Bartlett said. “In Game 1, I felt they came out and they were nervous. And next year, (they’ll) come out and say, ‘Hey, we know what this is like. We know what it takes to get here. We know what it’s like to be there and let’s do it.’”
Cino added about the underclassmen, “They have a lot of fire and they’re ready to fight.”
Coe-Brown, behind libero Deborah Peabody, played strong defense. Windham took several good shots that Coe-Brown players were there to dig, set and return.
“Their defense was phenomenal at the net and in the back row,” Bartlett said. “They played a solid game. It was hard to find their weaknesses and to exploit them. They definitely made it a challenge for us.”
Coe-Brown 3, Windham 1
Division 2 Championship
Kills: W — Lexi Sawyer 9, Basie Bostic 5, Emiline Sundman 4
Assists: W — Melissa Cino 38
Service points (aces): W — Sundman 12 (3), Talia Lombardo 12 (1)
Digs: W — Hannah Scott 21
Coe-Brown (18-1): 25 25 24 14 — 3
Windham (16-3): 15 19 26 25 — 1