by Jonny Levenfeld
Boys’ volleyball’s postseason run came up short Friday at Newton South, as the fifth seeded Tigers fell to their crosstown rival 3-2 in the South Section Semifinals of the MIAA state tournament.
North coach Richard Barton said that the match was so close it could’ve gone either way.
After dropping the first game to the top seeded Lions, the Tigers went on a run, winning the first five points of the second game and tying the match at one game apiece. The third game was a back and forth battle, as neither team was able to gain a sizable lead until the Tigers went on a late surge to take the game 25-23.
The Tigers’ biggest opportunity to close out the match came in the fourth game, as the team held a match point at 25-24. However, South was able to fight off the match point and come up with a kill on set point to even the match.
From there, the Lions took charge of their home court and dominated the Tigers, establishing a 12-3 lead in the decisive fifth game and finishing the match off with a 15-7 victory.
Barton said that the Tigers did not play nearly as well as they could have, and noted that a hard-fought win over Norwood Wednesday could have affected the Tigers’ sub-par play yesterday.
“It was very uncharacteristic of our team. That’s how it happens sometimes. Maybe it was a factor that we played a very tough match not 48 hours ago, while they had three days off. We haven’t played like that for two months, to be blunt.”
Barton also acknowledged South’s “very sharp” performance, praising their exceptional service and service return.
“They received. I don’t know if they missed more than three serves the whole day. It seemed like they never missed. We got nothing on our serve. They passed everything. They never got aced. They hit in. They made very few errors. We were making a lot of errors,” he said.
Despite the loss, Barton was still very pleased with the way his team competed throughout the match.
“What makes a coach happiest is when you put a team on the court, and everyone is trying so hard,” he said.
“I feel bad for our players, especially when you want to do really well against your crosstown rival and instead you lose in such a close fashion.”