BOLTON -- Nashoba had revenge on its mind when it met the Ayer-Shirley volleyball team Tuesday night in Bolton.
Ayer-Shirley defeated the Lady Chieftains at home last year 3-1. But this time, Lady Panthers' head coach Donna Ferreira's girls were on the other side of that result.
Ayer-Shirley fell after taking the first set 25-21, 21-25,23-25 and 19-25. Ferreria was unable to attend Tuesday's match with Nashoba, so assistant coach Amanda Carlson took the reins.
"Nashoba is a great team, and so aren't we," Carlson said. "I think we went out there and really stuck with them. All four match sets, I feel like we stuck with them. It's just a few little errors that they jumped on."
The Lady Panthers took the first match 25-21. Nashoba sounded off four consecutive service points to sway the match in its favor, at 21-20. Ayer-Shirley was able to tie it up momentarily, but the Lady Chieftains pulled away to tie the match at 1-1.
In the ensuing three matches, Ayer-Shirley gave the host Lady Chieftains a run for its money. Nashoba's Clarissa Tucker blasted five straight service points midway through game two which put the Lady Cheiftains up 9-4.
The Lady Panthers came clawing right back. Sophomore Rebecca Ernst killed the run with a stellar block at the net. Ernst's block helped the Lady Panthers pull within four points. A pair of Nashoba service errors allowed Ayer-Shirley to roar back to life.
The Nashoba miscues brought the Lady Panthers within
Nashoba libero Theresa Cloutier made a very athletic play, as she dove to the floor and popped the ball over the net to put Nashoba back in the driver's seat, at 10-9. On the next point, Tucker blasted her second ace of the match amid a gaggle of red jerseys.
Ayer-Shirley pulled within one on the next match point, as Tucker hammered the ball into the net. Emma Shiels tied the match at 11-11 with a well timed serve that nestled itself in the far-right corner of the floor. Later in the match, Nashoba moved out to a 20-16 lead. However, the girls from Ayer-Shirley refused to back down without a fight.
The Lady Panthers brought the match back within two on an ace from Stephanie Chilicky, but it was not enough. Nashoba's Olivia Perkins hammered home the decisive match-point with a thunderous serve.
Getting the first point in volleyball is a momentum builder and the Lady Panthers were able to do just that in game three. With match totals tied at 1-1, Rebecca Ernst slammed her serve over the net with authority to give the Lady Panthers a 1-0 lead.
But, an error on her next serve gave Nashoba the opening it needed to leap out to a 4-0 run. That 4-0 run upped the Lady Chieftains advantage to 6-2, but Ayer-Shirley's defense started to shine
Wright rose up to block the serve of Perkins at the net to stop Nashoba's unanswered run at four. Nashoba regained its composure and took its largest lead of the match, 11-6, on a tip by Abby Slater.
Ayer-Shirley was able to battle its way back to tie the match at 11-11 on a nifty dig by libero Sarah Ernst. That would be as close as the Lady Panthers would get in the match, as the team fell 25-21.
Trailing 2-1 heading into the decisive fourth set, Ayer-Shirley knew it had its work cut out. Nashoba took the opening serve and blasted it out of bounds, allowing Ayer-Shirley an opportunity for a run.
Ayer-Shirley seized the opportunity and pounced out to a 9-4 lead behind the outstanding play of Wright and captain Maddie Mitrano. Mitrano recorded a huge block at the net in the sequence. The match see-sawed back-and-forth for a while.
Nashoba eventually took the lead, 11-10, on a behemoth blast from Tucker. Ayer-Shirley kept the differential at one on a couple of occasions late in the match, but stellar play from Tucker and Rita Peirce allowed the Lady Chieftains to take the decisive fourth set, 25-19.
Rebecca Ernst led the Lady Panthers with six kills and three blocks. Also from Ayer-Shirley, Julie Maillet chipped in with four assists and two blocks.