HAVERHILL – Nothing came easy on the volleyball court Wednesday evening against defending North champion Lawrence, but the Hillies rode their depth to a convincing sweep.
Trailing as late as the midway point in all three games, Haverhill rallied each time to knock off the Lancers for the second time this season by scores of 25-16, 30-28 and 25-22.
“Every game was tough,” said Haverhill coach Vincent Pettis, whose squad needed four games to win the first match with the Lancers. “But (beating Lawrence twice) is really good. These kids aren’t the tallest bunch, but they’re willing to fight and play great defense in every match. It really keeps us alive against the taller, bigger hitters in the league.”
The teams entered the match tied atop the Merrimack Valley Conference with 11 wins through 12 games and they each played like they wanted to take over sole position. The three games featured 26 ties – 13 in the second game – and 11 lead changes.
Haverhill took over the first game after forcing a tie at 14, with Lismari Valdez and Jada Burdier doing the bulk of the damage. But that was as easy as the night would get.
“We just got hotter and hotter,” said Burdier, who had four winners in one five-point stretch. “Together we were distributing the ball to everybody. It was honestly a team effort, and honestly, I think it was the best we’ve played this season.”
The Lancers jumped out to its biggest lead of the match by taking a 9-3 lead on a string of unforced Hillie errors in the second game. But just as quickly, Haverhill used Lawrence errors to gain a tie at 12. The Lancers reclaimed a 20-16 lead, but again it was six unforced errors that allowed Haverhill to battle back to a tie at 21.
Lawrence’s final lead of the game was 28-27, but Haverhill scored the final three, including game point on one of Kya Burdier’s three aces on the night.
“It definitely takes a lot of work in practice,” said Valdez, who finished with a match-high 17 kills. “The key is maintaining the positivity and hyping each other up and not bringing others down. Everybody does what they need to do, which is important.”
In the third game, Haverhill showed off its front-row depth as five different players contributed winners while the Hillies were outscoring Lawrence 8-3 after trailing 19-17.
“I have a lot of seniors and a lot of them with two and three years of experience,” Pettis said. “It’s nice be able to move kids in and out.”
Next up for Haverhill is Tewksbury, which took a 3-2 decision the game after the Hillies’ first win over the Lancers.
“I believe if Tewksbury wins, it’s like a three-way tie,” Pettis said. “Tewksbury matches up against us very well. We’ve had battles with them this year and last, so we’ll have to bring our A game.”
Lawrence was led by Nahyaliz Rodriquez (11 kills) and Yemayma Molina (7).
“I feel like we just need to talk more,” Molina said. “We need to talk out what we know what we messed up in the game and just keep building so next time we play them we can come harder.”
Haverhill 3, Lawrence 0
Kills: Lawrence — Nahyaliz Rodriguez 13, Yemayma Molina 7; Haverhill — Lismari Valdez 17, Jada Burdier 12
Blocks: Lawrence — Dejalee Torres 3; Haverhill — Jess Wardle 3, Julia DelRosso 2
Assists: Haverhill — Kya Burdier 20, Tina Fire, 13
Service points (aces): Lawrence — Amaiya Lu 3, Vielka Sanchez 3; Haverhill — J.Burdier 4, DelRosso 3, K.Burdier 3
Digs: Haverhill — J.Burdier 26, Shiloh Osmer 26
Lawrence (11-2): 16 28 22 — 0
Haverhill (12-1): 25 30 25 — 3