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April 28, 2014

Windham winning machine: State champion soccer players lead rising volleyball power

Two-time soccer champions aim to dethrone vaunted Salem

WINDHAM — To the outsider, the Salem High boys volleyball team seems as invincible as a box office super hero.

Is there any other high school sports team in the United States which can boast a career 99.4 percent winning percentage?

Those are the numbers: 172-1 and nine state titles in nine years.

But Windham High dares believe it can prevent the Blue Devils from becoming perfect 10s.

They may have the pedigree to do it.

Tri-captains Andrew Lowman, Tucker Lippold and Tim Erdlen each have won two state soccer titles and built the upstart Jaguar volleyball program from a 2-13 team in its debut season in 2011. Both wins were over winless John Stark.

They’ve grown up quickly, making the state final last spring. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that Windham kids until 2009 attended Salem High.

It’s not the state finals but the 3-1 Jaguars will get a chance to snap the Blue Devils’ 47-match win streak when the two meet Wednesday at Windham.

Salem has shown some vulnerability, including a down-to-the-wire 3-2 win over Timberlane last Wednesday. And the Jags threw a scare into the Blue Devils two weeks ago before falling 3-1 (25-15, 21-25, 25-21, 26-24).

“Everybody is getting pretty sick of hearing about the Salem volleyball dynasty,” said Lippold, who along with almost all his teammates was at the Salem-Timberlane match. “Everyone thinks we can do it.”

Lowman said, “We’re not afraid of them. We proved we can hang with them. We’re definitely excited to play them again.”

Erdlen said, “We put up a good fight last year and we’re ready to put up a better one this year. All good things come to an end.”

Few Granite State boys grow up with volleyball, so the key for Salem has always been getting some top athletes to take it up once they reach high school.

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