NORTH ANDOVER — There are many positives to be said in any critique of the Andover volleyball season. One of the most significant would be how the Golden Warriors respond to a defeat — especially if North Andover is the opponent handing out the loss.
The third-seeded Warriors rebounded from a second-set setback and routed the second-seeded Scarlet Knights the rest of the way for a 3-1 victory in last night’s Division 1 North semifinals.
Winning the season’s rubber-match against North Andover sends Andover to its fifth consecutive North final against another MVC rival in Haverhill at 6 p.m. Saturday at Lawrence High School.
Andover (22-1) dominated the final two games last night, but it was a 25-27 loss in the second that seemed to wake up the Warriors, who saw a seven-point lead evaporate in the set.
It was reminiscent of the entire season, which began with a five-set loss to the same Knights in early September.
“After the first game we lost to them I gave them the old (Lawrence) Taylor of the Giants quote,” Andover coach George Sullivan said. “The sin’s not getting knocked down; the sin’s not getting back up. And they got back up. They dug in and dedicated themselves. That’s because of the leadership provided by (senior) Chelsea Hu the outside hitter and (junior setter) Azita Bakhtyari. I’ve got great leaders.”
The season-opening defeat spurred the Warriors onto a 22-match winning streak that included 20 shutouts, including each of the 17 previous to the semifinal showdown.
Against the Knights, whose only two losses in their 23-game season were to the Warriors, Andover used a 13-3 run to build a 21-16 lead before winning the first game 25-19. After falling behind 7-10 early, the warriors had only one unforced error the remainder of the opener.