WESTBORO — For as well as the Newton North volleyball team did to battle Westfield’s overwhelming power and athleticism and put it on the ropes early in a Div. 1 state semifinal on Monday, it wasn’t enough to keep the two-time defending state champion Bombers from moving on.
Clutch blocks and passes from setter Eric Yurtuc late in the first set helped West champion Westfield overcome four set points to rally for a first-set victory, ultimately shaping the tone of a 3-0 win over the Tigers, 30-28, 25-16, 25-20. James Pavlyuk gave Newton North all sorts of trouble with 17 vicious kills on the day, which paired nicely with 10 kills from Ethan Flaherty and Yurtuc’s 22 assists.
But as the Tigers stayed in each set behind setter Gavin Emenaker (14 assists, five kills), the Bombers’ blocking ability (14 total) prevented Newton North from finding any sort of groove with its hitting en route to the clean sweep.
“Just a lot of belief in each other is what it comes down to,” said Westfield head coach Tyler Wingate. “I think we had hoped we would have this opportunity again … and these guys really worked for it. They really stepped up tonight against a good team.”
As part of a back-and-forth first set that saw neither team lead by more than four points at any time, the Tigers led Westfield, 24-21, in an effort to punch the defending champs in the mouth early.
But Yurtuc had other plans, finding Pavlyuk for a kill before Newton North blocked a hit out of bounds and Yurtuc picked up consecutive block points for a 25-24 lead. The Tigers took advantage of some errors to get back up to a set point twice more, before serving errors kept the Bombers alive in the set en route to a 30-28 win.
“It helped give us confidence,” Wingate said.
Westfield came out hot in the second set behind hard hitting from Pavlyuk and consistent blocking for a 25-16 win in the second set, and eventually the 25-20 win in the third set.
Yet another big hit from Westfield, helping it win the second set 25-16. Bombers lead 2-0. Newton North has no answer for the big blocking from Westfield, running little decoys and making it pretty easy for those big Bombers to get set for where the hit is going to be. pic.twitter.com/ooYDzauONx
— Tom Mulherin (@T_Mulherin) June 17, 2019
Riley Coughlin had four of those blocks for the Bombers, while Yurtuc had 3-1/2.
“Our team played very tough, we faltered on serving just a little bit in the first set,” said Newton North head coach Richard Barton. “(But) we bowed down to (Pavlyuk). We had them out of system a dozen, 20 times, and they just got that ball up to (Pavlyuk) and he hit it so they were in system. … Given that two games were very close, that was the difference. He was impressive.”