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Spartans bounce young Athol spikers

Athol High School made tremendous strides just to qualify for the postseason with a young, inexperienced team.

Well, now, the Red Raiders will have to wait at least one more season to earn a postseason victory.

PVIAC East Division champion East Longmeadow High School used its experience and depth to get past its division rival, 25-21, 25-21, 26-24, in the first round of the Western Massachusetts Boys’ Volleyball Tournament on Thursday night at East Longmeadow High School.

The seventh-seeded Spartans advance to Tuesday’s quarterfinal against No. 2 Ludlow High School. Athol, the 10th seed, finished its season at 10-11.

“I will gladly eat my words,” said Raiders head coach Donna Lajoie, who predicted during the preseason that her team would struggle to simply win a few games, never mind qualify for the tournament. “I’m so happy with how much we accomplished this year. ... This is one time I’m glad to be wrong, and I’m never wrong —just ask my husband.”

Erik Akey came up with another strong match at the net for Athol, registering 12 kills and five blocks. Tyler Lajoie totaled nine assists and Lorenzo Carra added seven to help the offense. Jose Sierra paced the defense with 17 digs, and Wyatt Doiron-Larue collected seven digs, four kills and two blocks. Matt Drazek chipped in with five digs.

“The one thing that had gotten us this far had been our passing, and tonight it wasn’t there,” admitted Coach Lajoie. “It was a huge problem, and I think it was just nerves.

“This has been a great season,” she added. “We accomplished a lot of goals, and I couldn’t ask for any more than that. ... The future looks bright.”

Boys’ tennis

Turners 5, Sci-Tech 0 — Turners Falls High School is perfect.

The Indians completed their first undefeated season in league play by whitewashing Springfield School of Science & Technology, 5-0, in a Tri-County League boys’ tennis match on Thursday at Grande Meadows Tennis & Health Club in Longmeadow.

The Indians not only completed the program’s first perfect season (8-0 in the TCL), they also finished 14-1 overall to equal the program’s best regular season record — the 1991 squad also went 14-1.

Turners’ three singles players combined to win all but nine games in an easy sweep. Summer Forest-Bulley faced the toughest test of the trio, but he was able to post a 6-4, 6-1 victory over Wayne Farrell at No. 1. Ken Leng was solid in a 6-1, 6-2 verdict over Hakeem Hopper-Collins at No. 2, and Alex Gheorghita moved up top No. 3 and rolled to a 6-1, 6-0 win over Zachary Johnson.

Turners had little trouble also producing a sweep of the doubles matches. Sam Danford and Tenzin Khenrab downed Isaais Bermudez and Anthony Nesencevi, 6-0, 6-2, at No. 1, and Dennis Gheorghita and Spencer Hubert cruised past Jeffrey Del Rio and Bu Nguyen, 6-1, 6-0, at No. 2.

Turners now awaits Wednesday’s Western Massachusetts Tournament Committee Meeting at 10 a.m. at Sabis International Charter School in Springfield to find out its seed in the upcoming Division II Team Tournament.

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