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Volleyball: Mahar edges Athol in rivalry match

  • An Athol High School huddle during a volleyball match against Mahar Regional, Wednesday in Athol.  STAFF PHOTO/ADAM HARGRAVES

Staff Writer
Published: 9/11/2019 9:46:58 PM
Modified: 9/11/2019 9:49:54 PM

ATHOL — The bodies flew all over the hardwood at Athol High School’s Mallet Gymnasium on Wednesday.

Must have been a rivalry match.

The Athol volleyball team came out firing against Mahar Regional, but could not maintain the momentum in a 3-2 loss to the Senators in a Northern League matchup. Set scores were 21-25, 25-4, 25-20, 25-27 and 15-5. 

After falling behind 2-1, the Red Raiders forced a fifth set but could not close against unbeaten Mahar (4-0).

“We came back in the second set and just said, ‘We are not going to give up on this game,’” Mahar coach Sarah Woodward said. “I think in the first and the fourth sets, if we hadn’t started so slow I think we could have easily taken those sets. But it was too little, too late.”

Lexi Forte led Athol with 10 aces and 15 assists. In years past, Athol might not have able to extend the match after falling behind.

“We are definitely different,” Forte said. “We are staying up more. We are working more as a team.”

With the help of a fired-up student section, Athol jumped on Mahar and took a 1-0 set lead.

That set the stage for Mahar’s Madison Harrington in the second set behind the service-line. By the time Harrington lost her serve, the Senators had a commanding 18-1 advantage. The student section was noticeably silenced in the second set.

“Every time we come here, the crowd section is really loud,” Harrington said. “Who doesn’t want to quiet the opposing team?”

Harrington had 14 assists to go with seven aces. Mahar won the second and third frames to take a 2-1 lead.

“We got a lot of our serves over and got our energy back,” Harrington said. 

Harrington did well setting up her hitters, especially Hailie Meeker (eight kills) and Quincey Drew (11 kills).

Athol showed some fight with a fourth set win. Skyleigh D’Ambrosia showed plenty of emotion during the set.

“We are all ready to win,” D’Ambrosia said.

In the fifth set, some miscommunication plagued the Red Raiders.

“We got down on each other,” Forte said. “We started getting frustrated and angry.”

In the opening set, Athol took a 13-4 lead behind the hard, straight serve of Forte. She rattled off nine straight points for the Red Raiders (1-2).

Mahar battled back and cut into the gap but the Red Raiders closed out the set.

A Drew ace eventually ended the second set.

The back-and-forth action in the third set ended with a service error and Mahar taking the 2-1 lead.

Athol took an early lead in the fourth set, punctuated by a strong kill from Rashelly Dalmau-Gonzalez.

Dalmau-Gonzalez later excited the crowd with a full extension dig that left her on the gym floor, saving a point for the Red Raiders.

The Red Raiders forced a decisive fifth set when Mahar misplayed a Forte dig.

“They stayed in it,” Athol coach Nick Savoie said of his team. “By the fourth and fifth set I think they were tired. I think they played really hard tonight. They just lost all their energy.”

A Drew kill thanks to a nice set from Harrington gave Mahar a 4-2 lead in the fifth frame with the serve. Deanna Smith’s (12 digs) serve helped Mahar pull away in the final set.

Shaelynn Doherty and two kills, three aces and six digs for the Red Raiders. Katelyn Mahan led Athol with eight kills with three aces and seven digs.

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