Sep. 15—DANVERS — After two tough non-league losses to begin the 2021 season, the Danvers High volleyball team was hungry for a win in their first Northeastern Conference test Tuesday evening.
Visiting Masconomet fought the Falcons tooth and nail, especially in the third and fourth sets before falling to the six-time defending league champs, 3-1.
Having now won a record 77 straight Northeastern Conference matches dating back to the 2014 season, the Falcons learned from early season losses to Catholic Central League powers Bishop Fenwick and Arlington Catholic with a satisfying triumph in this one.
"The girls have been working hard, and we realized where our weaknesses are with a young team" said coach George LeVasseur. "They were ready tonight. Once again we used different lineups, as has been the case almost every set to find out what works best."
Danvers won the first two sets by identical 25-19 scores. They led from the start in the opener, but the Lady Chieftains cut the deficit to a single point on three separate occasions (15-14, 19-18, and 20-19) but couldn't come any closer.
In the second set, it was tied four times in the early going before Danvers went on a run with Alexia Simpson serving. Simpson finished the night with seven aces including three during that span to help her team build up a 15-7 lead and a two set cushion.
Masco (now 1-2) stormed back, taking the third set in convincing fashion, 25-15. Leading from start to finish, the Chieftains grabbed an 11-5 lead and won several long volleys.
"We made a lot of changes after the second set, and used a different configuration in set three," said Chieftains head coach Mike Scammon. "We figured our lineup wasn't working so we might as well try something new, and we looked much better in the last two sets."
In the fourth and final set, Danvers prevailed, 25-21. The score was tied seven times, the last time at 18-all before the Falcons finished it off led by the Walsh twins, juniors Jaime and Jessica. Jaime, a setter, and right side hitter Jessica both had strong games. Jaime had 26 assists and four kills while Jessica contributed 10 digs. They worked best when side by side on the court.
"We've been playing together for three years now, and we support each other," said Jaime. "I think we play well when we're on the court together, bringing each other up."
Junior captain middle blocker Maxine Lapine had eight kills and seven digs, while senior captain outside hitter Simpson was very effective serving with seven aces. Junior outside hitter Ava Newton also was a key factor in the victory with a dozen kills and a dozen digs.
"It's a team before me philosophy, and the girls have bought into it," said LeVasseur. "Support for each other is there no matter whoever is out there as we change up the lineup."
Masco was led by junior setter Vanessa Latam, who had 22 assists and two blocks. Outside hitter Camryn Wettstone was also outstanding with seven kills and 15 digs.
Contact Jean DePlacido @JeanDePlacidoSN