Athol tops Mohawk to seal tourney berth

Recorder Intern
Thursday, October 26, 2017

ATHOL — Athol High School qualified for the postseason Thursday night with a 22-25, 26-24, 25-19, 14-25, 15-8 victory over Mohawk Trail Regional High School in a Northern Division match at Mallet Gymnasium.

It very well could go down as one of the top local matches of the year, with Athol in search of a postseason berth while Mohawk had already punched its ticket.

Athol amassed a 22-18 lead in the first set but Mohawk scored seven unanswered points to win it, 25-22.

The confidence of Mohawk to come back from the deficit in the first half was resonating through the team while playing on the road with an animated and hostile crowd breathing down its necks.

“This is the best team we’ve had in a long time,” said Mohawk coach Katelyn Gaffigan.

That confidence continued in the second set when Athol again had a lead of 24-17 before Mohawk came roaring back to tie it up, but their rally wasn’t enough to overcome the Red Raiders’ lead. Athol won the set 26-24. All of a sudden, there was a momentum switch.

“Our team is very confident,” said Athol coach Nick Savoie, “This is the best volleyball we have played all year.”

The next two sets weren’t nearly as close as the first two as Athol took a 2-1 match lead by winning the third set 25-19. Then Mohawk tied it back up by dominating the fourth set 25-14.

For Mohawk, Lexi Mazza had 14 kills, four aces, 18 digs and four blocks, Kylie Lowell had nine kills, two aces and eight digs, Ashley Reynolds had seven kills, 25 assists, six aces and 11 digs, Jordan Rice had a kill, an ace and 12 digs and Gabby Shean had six kills, four assists, an ace and 13 digs.

For Athol; Julia Ramos had 18 assists and five kills, Hannah Lajoie had eight kills and and equal number of aces, Paige Truehart and Abbe Roberts had six kills each.

The hostility in this matchup became more and more apparent as the game progressed.

“The tournament is going to be really hard,” said Gaffigan, “We could play a difficult team like Frontier and they’re really tough, but if we play Athol, I think we’ll definitely beat them.”

It sounds like this is a rough rivalry.

“Mohawk and Athol always match up pretty well,” said Savoie.

Athol came out of the fifth and final set on fire, taking a quick 8-3 lead and forcing Mohawk to take a timeout. Athol eventually went on to win the tiebreaking set 15-8 to win the match 3-2 and qualify for the tournament.

Mohawk’s regular season is over, while Athol will visit Ware High School tonight to close out its season.

Both teams will begin to prepare for the tournament as they find out where they will be seeded early next week.