By Michael James LeClair
The Nashoba Regional girls’ volleyball team had every reason to be excited on Wednesday evening.
The host Chieftains proved to themselves and their fans that anything is possible if they play as a team. Nashoba put together a complete effort to knock off Marlborough 3-1 by scores of 25-20, 21-25, 25-7 and 26-24.
“The girls played outstanding, they really played together as a team. We’ve been struggling a little bit with some new players and they really gelled tonight,” said Nashoba head coach Johnna Doyle, whose squad improves to 2-3 on the infant season. “We spent an hour and a half at practice on Tuesday working on our serve and receive and it really showed today.”
After dropping their first three matches of the season the Chieftains have strung together back to back wins. Nashoba defeated St. Bernard’s on Monday before Wednesday’s triumph over the Panthers.
“Everything went right for us out there. From the play of our libero to our sets,” said Doyle. “I was most pleased with our back row, our defensive play. Our hits were great but they don’t come if we don’t get a good bump.”
According to Doyle, Wednesday’s victory over Marlborough was the first time in the program’s history.
Senior captains Theresa Cloutier, Abby Slater and Olivia Beaudoin couldn’t contain their enthusiasm following Wednesday’s win.
“First of all, Jaque (Manyak) who was serving at the end of the game, her serves were amazing,” said Slater. “We all get nervous under pressure but Jaque stayed with the whole time. The whole team did an outstanding job. This was a huge win for this team and this program.”
The Chieftains grabbed an early lead by claiming the first set of the match by a 25-20 score. It was a back and forth affair early on as Nashoba jumped out to a 10-6 lead. Marlborough tried to hang, inching to within 20-18 later in the set however the hosts scored five of the final seven points to secure the victory and draw first blood.
Slater, Jordan Bricknell and Natalie Lindsay played well up front for the Chieftains, each registering multiple kills in the set.
The Panthers fought back to even the match with a 25-21 win in the second set. Despite the loss Olivia Perkins, Lindsay and Olivia Zhang each delivered their “A” game with strong efforts for Nashoba.
The Chieftains put a stranglehold on things with a dominating third set, cruising to a 25-7 triumph and a 2-1 set lead. Nashoba scored eight of the first nine points in the set and never looked back, jumping to a 15-4 lead after a kill from Perkins.
With Nashoba up 15-6 it went on a rally that saw the hosts scored 10 of the final 11 points to secure the win, including seven service points from Perkins.
In the final set of the match Marlborough started red hot, scoring the first four points and seven of the first 10. The Panthers refused to go quietly and continued to fight; expanding their lead to 12-7 but a quick 6-1 Nashoba run tied the set at 13.
Marlborough answered with a run of its own, a mini 5-1 spurt gave the Panthers an 18-14 lead. It appeared this one was going to go in the Panthers favor as the guests kept the pressure on. Marlborough expanded its advantage to 24-18 and was just a single point away from forcing a deciding fifth set but the Chieftains would have done of it. It was at this time that Manyak decided to take charge with her service skills and the rest of the team got behind her. Manyak recorded eight straight service points, including two aces, to help propel her team to the victory.
“It’s hard to put into words, last year we came so close to getting a second set against Marlborough. We were really upset coming back home on the bus,” said Beaudoin. “We wanted this one so bad.”
Nashoba followed up Wednesday’s performance with another convincing performance against the Hawks as it defeated Hudson 3-0 by set scores of 26-24, 26-24 and 25-16. Beaudoin was 15 for 16 at the service line and had four assists for Nashoba.
Natalie Lindsay had two aces and eight kills, and Slater added six kills and two blocks to lead the guests who improved to 3-3 overall.