HOLYOKE, Mass. ---- The Massasoit women's volleyball team captured the Region 21 Championship by defeating Northern Essex, 3-1 (25-20, 24-26, 25-11, 25-21) in the tournament finals on Sunday afternoon at Holyoke Community College.
In the first season of volleyball at Massasoit since 1987, the Warriors ran through the regular season and tournament, going undefeated in divisional and tournament play en route to claiming just the second regional crown in program history, joining the 1984 team.
"We did it together. We are stronger together. We did it as a team today and I couldn't be prouder of the team for winning this championship," first year head coach Patricia Francis-Ryans said.
To reach the finals, Massasoit (17-3) made quick work of tourney host Holyoke, winning in straight sets 3-0 (25-18, 25-11, 25-15) in the semifinals.
In the finals against the Knights, Massasoit jumped out and took the first stanza, 25-20, though it did not come easy. Tied at 20-all, Colleen Luongo (Plymouth) recorded a kill and then served four-straight aces to give Massasoit the first set victory.
In the second set, NECC built up a 17-12 lead and held the advantage throughout the frame, until a late spurt by the Warriors. Trailing 24-20, Massasoit scored four straight points off Emmanuella Paul's serving to knot the set at 24-all. However, the Knights took the next two points to even the match at 1-1.
"In the second set we made a lot of errors, but we were able to get back into it and almost pulled it out. We just made too many errors in the set. In set three, the girls were not worried and they knew they were going to finish strong. We had gone to four sets before with Northern Essex and the girls knew we could get it done and we did," Francis-Ryans said.
The third set changed the entire momentum of the match. Despite NECC taking second two to even things up, Massasoit rolled in the third frame. NECC actually led 5-2 in the early goings, but Massasoit went on a 9-1 run and never looked back to claim the set 25-11.
The fourth and what proved to be the final set, was also close throughout, tied at 19-all. But, the Warriors won the race to 25 to win the stanza and take home the Region 21 title.
Offensively, Luongo finished with 11 kills and a team-high seven service aces, while Stephanie Pierre-Louis (Brockton) ripped 11 kills as well in the win. Delaney Nagel (Stoughton) added seven kills and four solo blocks.
Setter Emmanuella Paul contributed a double-double with 24 assists and 12 digs.
Massasoit finished with 18 service aces for the match.
The Warriors will now host the Northeast District Tournament, set for Saturday, Nov. 2.