TOWNSEND -- On Thursday night inside the Arthur Bartlett Memorial Gymnasium, North Middlesex hosted its annual "pink night", to raise money for breast cancer research.
"We were honoring breast cancer awareness, and the kids really put a lot of effort into that," North Middlesex head coach Mark Roy said. "Wachusett just played lights out."
Wachusett rode the steady hand of its outside hitter, Maty Diabate, and opposite hitter, Vanessa Chaves. The Lady Patriots fell to Wachusett in straight sets, (19-25,23-25,12-25.)
"She was unbelievable," Roy said of Diabate. "She was able to put it wherever she wanted to. We tried to line up with her outside, but we never could get to her quick enough. We never got there."
Wachusett coasted out to a 9-4 run behind the consistent play of Chaves and Diabate. North Middlesex cut the Lady Mountaineers' lead to 9-7 on a couple of miscues. That would be as close as the Lady Patriots would get in game one.
North Middlesex had a span of three unanswered points later in the match due in large part to the relentless play of its senior captain, outside hitter, Alysia Pearce. North Middlesex junior outside hitter, Kayla Delaney, killed the Lady Mountaineers' 9-0 run with a perfectly timed tip over the net to make it 24-19. But, Diabate closed out the match with a thunderous spike that splashed in the back left corner of the floor.
North Middlesex gave Wachusett a run for its money in game two. The Lady Patriots jumped out to a 2-0 lead after junior setter, Amy Flournoy, pounded home a pair of aces. Wachusett countered with a 4-0 spurt highlighted by consecutive aces from senior captain Victoria Sutphen. North Middlesex took advantage of a side out by Wachusett libero Linh Nguyen. North Middlesex senior defensive specialist, Shannyn Muldoon, tied the match on a stellar serve that plopped in the middle of the floor, to make it 4-4. Wachusett regained the lead on two straight North Middlesex errors.
North Middlesex crept back into the match off a beautiful dig by senior libero Katherine Koulopoulos. Flournoy gathered the ball from Koulopoulos and set it up for senior captain, Samantha Jurgilewicz. Jurgilewicz reared back and spiked the ball over the left side of the net to bring the Lady Pats back within one, at 6-5.
From then on out, Wachusett went on a 7-0 run which prompted a North Middlesex timeout as the Lady Patriots trailed 12-6. Jurgilewicz placed a pair of aces to bring the Lady Patriots back within five at 14-9. Wachusett appeared to be running away with the game when it went up eight on the Chaves spike. However, North Middlesex refused to quit.
The Lady Pats went on a 4-0 run which brought them within four, at 19-15. Wachusett junior outside hitter Jordan Smith came up with a key kill that dropped inside the outside right corner.
However, North Middlesex kept scrapping. Hannah Lawrence slid to her knees and recorded a nifty dig to keep the play alive. Senior middle hitter Emily Medrek tipped the ball into no-mans' land, prompting a Wachusett error, which cut the deficit to 20-17.
The two teams traded the next two match-points before Medrek blasted an emphatic spike in the middle of the floor to bring the Lady Pats back within two. North Middlesex tied the match on an ace by Sydney Wheeler. But, an error and a spike from Wachusett senior Kaylin Hauge helped the Lady Mountaineers edge out the Lady Pats, 25-23.
But, a sloppy third match did the Lady Patriots in, as they fell big, 25-12.
"We were turning it around a little bit in game two," Roy said. "If they were able to keep that consistency, it would've been great. But, we are a notorious bad third game team. "In that second game, we definitely had a chance to turn it around. Our hitting was good tonight, but our passing was not. Unless you get the ball to the setter, you're just not going to win."
Junior middle hitter Kristina Osborne led the Lady Pats with four kills. Diabate and Chaves paced the Lady Mountaineers with five kills each.