Last year, in the first ever sporting event in the new gym, Braintree spoiled the Tigers’ party, defeating them 3-1.
When the Wamps returned to the Tigers’ home court this year, the Tigers made sure that last year’s result would not happen twice.
The Tigers breezed through the match, easily dispatching Braintree 3-0 (25-16, 25-9, 25-15) in an efficient one hour, 15 minutes. Although Braintree’s hitting was solid for most of the game, the Wamps had no chance of keeping up with the Tigers’ superior passing and serving. Junior Keane Brazda led the Tigers with seven kills, while sophomore Infiniti Thomas-Waheed added four block kills, which coach Richard Barton called “an incredible total.”
“The match had the proper outcome,” Barton said. “It was a calm, quiet match, and we played strong volleyball all-around.”
The Tigers bolted out of the gate with an 8-0 run to start the first game, as the Wamps could not muster a response to the Tigers’ clinical serve-and-receive game. In particular, senior Meredith Abrams, a captain with the rest of the seniors and the Tigers’ libero, saved multiple Braintree spikes that seemed destined to hit the floor. The squad also managed to set up its outside hitters with consistent kill opportunities, often catching the Wamps unorganized and unprepared. Even though Braintree’s offense improved after falling behind early, the Tigers took the first game.
“Our team has college-level serving,” Barton said. “Although we sometimes can be an error machine, it was great to see how well we served.”
The second and third games told much of the same story. In the second game, Thomas-Waheed punctuated a 12-3 opening run with a forceful block kill, sending the Tigers well on their way to a 25-9 win. In that game, junior Deanna Cortina and sophomore Micaela Cohen both served with deadly accuracy, punching holes in a struggling Braintree defense with well-placed serves.
In addition to her powerful hitting, Brazda helped out from in back, digging out Braintree hits and earning a few kills from her own back-row spikes. At 24-8, she kept the ball in play with a spectacular hand dig, showcasing the Tigers’ superior skill despite eventually losing the point. The Wamps, who dropped to 9-3 on the year, failed to help themselves out, making numerous unforced errors on their serves.
“We did a good job receiving serves today,” Barton said. “The other team didn’t serve particularly well.”
There was little doubt of the outcome by the time both teams stepped on the court for the third game, and the Wamps offered little resistance to the Tigers’. Once again, the Tigers pulled away early, and an ace by Cohen sealed the match for the undefeated Tigers.
“In our first match against Braintree, we split the first two sets, and we were shaky and messy,” Barton said.
“They’re a good team, but our players are confident, and they deserved to win.”
The Tigers, 11-0, qualified for the postseason last week, giving them the luxury to “tweak things” in this game, according to Barton.
“Today we saw some freshmen step up to play varsity–we had Tess Simmons in as a setter–and junior Anya Carr Klein was in as an outside hitter, even though she usually doesn’t play there.”
He added, “We’re trying to get the team ready for November, but we can hang with the best teams in the state,” citing the team’s success in nonconference matches.
For the remainder of the season, the squad will look for “stronger blocking and better serve-receive,” Barton said, as the Tigers prepare for the playoffs and attempt to sustain their perfect record.
“We have a big match in a couple of weeks at Brookline,” he said. Earlier in the season the Warriors nearly escaped with a victory here, but the Tigers prevailed in five tense, action-packed sets.