Girls’ volleyball captures MIAA state championship against Lincoln Sudbury in impressive performance

Senior Abigail Wright (right) and junior Katelin Simmons (left) celebrate their victory with head coach Nile Fox.

Jim Clark

Senior Abigail Wright (right) and junior Katelin Simmons (left) celebrate their victory with head coach Nile Fox.

Gavi Berkman

“This means everything,” said head coach Nile Fox. “It’s a great feeling coming off of last year’s loss. This is definitely a big one for Newton North.”

After four years of falling short, girls’ volleyball has reached the promised land once again. The Tigers hammered Lincoln Sudbury 3-1 to win the MIAA state finals on Saturday, Nov. 19 at Worcester State University. 

The Tigers’ combination of unbreakable confidence, elite coaching, and athletic talent were too much for the Warriors. While Lincoln Sudbury seemed shaky in the high pressure environment, the North players seemed comfortable and collected. 

Our whole team came together to perform for our last game,” said senior Abigail Wright, a captain along with junior Katelin Simmons. “Playing in a state championship atmosphere like that one can be really overwhelming, but as a team we embraced it all for what it was and we enjoyed every second of being there with each other.”

Simmons added that supporters from the North crowd gave the team the extra push it needed. “Hearing chants from our fan section definitely picked us up and had a great impact” said Simmons.

The Tigers came out with conviction to start the first set. Lincoln Sudbury seemed a little shell shocked, and North capitalized on this with a commanding 25-19 first set win. 

The second set was more even. The Warriors seemed to shake off their nerves and grow into the game. The Lincoln Sudbury student section also made themselves heard. North struggled to serve with the opponent’s loud and rowdy fans right next to them. 

“We served tough the whole game, but we missed a lot,” said Fox. “There were a couple of sets where we could have served better.” 

Despite their serving struggles, North stayed in the game during the second set. It took a series of brilliant Lincoln Sudbury points to give the Warriors the slight edge they needed for a 25-23 second set victory.

Instead of being brought down by what was only their second lost set of the entire playoffs, the Tigers rebounded with confidence with a convincing 25-15 third set victory. Wright’s ferocious spikes were consistently accurate, rendering Lincoln Sudbury’s defense helpless. 

“Abigail Wright played so well tonight,” said Fox. “She was a killer the whole time. We’re really gonna miss her next year.” 

The fourth set was even more of a walk in the park for the Tigers. Lincoln Sudbury allowed North to pull away by making a series of unforced errors, and the Tigers lit up the gym with their electrifying spikes and blocks. Playing with their hearts on their sleeves, the Tigers demolished Lincoln Sudbury in the fourth set 25-11, winning the match 3-1.

“I feel like the last couple sets, and that set that we lost really woke us up,” said Fox. “It showed us that if we keep playing at the level we’re playing at, they might win this game. We lifted it up and took it to a whole other level in that fourth set. I was very impressed, it was probably the best we played all season.”

According to Simmons, sophomore Alexa Marucci and freshman Alayna O’Connell played exceptionally well. “Many players are overlooked on the court, but one of the most important parts of any volleyball team are the passers,” said Simmons. “When we dropped the second set, they woke up and came into the third and fourth set wanting to win the trophy even more.”

Winning states is especially sweet for the veterans of the team, who experienced the devastating loss during the finals last year. 

It was hard ending our season the way we did last year after I had the most incredible experience with the best people, but that only made the motivation for this year even bigger,” said Wright. 

Through this motivation and admirable hard work, the Tigers are the 2022 state champions.

The journey isn’t over though, according to Simmons. She said, “We’ll be ready for next year.”