Winnisquam senior Hannah Chapin celebrates after putting down career kill number 500 on Friday night. The Bears were 25-20, 25-10, 25-23 winners over Belmont on Senior Night. Jeff Lajoie. (click for larger version)
October 28, 2013TILTON – With senior Hannah Chapin making history, the Winnisquam Regional High School volleyball team closed out the regular season in fine fashion on Friday night.
The outside hitter became the first player in program history since Jamie Guyer in 1998 to reach the 500 career kill mark, as she totaled 11 kills in a 25-20, 25-10, 25-23 victory over Belmont High School on Senior Night.
"I worked hard for this and it means so much," said Chapin, who entered the night with 493 kills. "I honestly didn't think I'd ever come so close to (500 kills)."
Winnisquam coach Mike Livernois, who nearly had a 500-kill performer three years ago when Carolyn Hajdusek finished just four kills shy of the mark in a state championship win over Epping, didn't tell Chapin how close she was to the number over the course of the season. The veteran coach, who won his 200th career match earlier in the week, was impressed with the way his senior handled not knowing all season long.
"For the most part she didn't know so what I really like is that not once this season did she ask how many she needed," Livernois explained. "That speaks a lot to her character. She's really all about the team. Every year she's gotten better and stronger. Not many players can hit a ball like she does."
With the Bears already up a game after a tight 25-20 win, Livernois called timeout in game two with his team holding a commanding 18-8 lead. In the huddle, he informed Chapin that she was one kill away from 500. 'Go enjoy it,' he told her as the team headed back out on the floor.
Just a few points later, with Winnisquam on top 20-9 and Bailey Long at the service line, Chapin took a feed from setter Erica Doubleday and put down a kill that brought the match to a halt and set off celebrations for the blue and white.
"I had heard a few things but didn't really know for sure," Chapin said about rumors in school that she was closing in on 500. "I was so nervous when he told me that I only needed one more. But I think not knowing throughout the season, there was a lot less pressure not thinking about it."
Winnisquam closed out the second set 25-10 after Chapin's big moment, but the match was far from over. Belmont led for the majority of the third frame, using a big block from senior setter Megan Bailey to hold a 19-16 advantage.
"In the first and third games we played like a team out there," said Belmont coach Missy Miner. "Our defense was incredible. We dug a lot of balls, which we needed to do because (Winnisquam) can hit the ball, that's for sure."
Kills from Mo Raymond and Carissa Archibald, mixed in with a Chapin block brought the defending champion Bears back however, with two more kills from Raymond setting up match point at 24-23. Becky Rapoza closed things out with a kill, and Winnisquam finished off the sweep to close out the regular season with a sterling 14-2 record.
"Our hitting was the difference," said Livernois. "I thought our offense did very well. Belmont is one heck of a defensive team and if you aren't on, they can keep points alive."
The win clinched the number three seed in the Division III tournament for Winnisquam, which will host a preliminary round matchup tonight at 6 p.m. Belmont will also be at home for the opening round this evening after an 11-5 regular season.
"(Winnisquam has) a much stronger offense than we do so we have to make sure our defense is aligned correctly against their hitters," Miner explained. "In that second game, we lost that rhythm and you saw the results. But now we just have to put it behind us and move on with the playoffs starting up."
Chapin's 11 kills and seven digs helped pace the Bears, while Raymond totaled 10 kills and 12 digs. Long (seven kills), Archibald (five kills, 12 digs), Dallis Austin (eight digs) and Doubleday (29 assists) all chipped in for the victory.
"Our first goal was to win enough to be a top four seed," said Livernois. "We've proven that we can win if we aren't a top four seed (last year's title came as the six seed) but it's easier to do it this way. For us, we're experienced in the tournament. I think it's all about the brackets and how the matchups shake out."
Alyssa Woods led Belmont with six kills on the night, while senior Bridget Annis added three kills. Bailey totaled 13 assists, two kills, four digs and two blocks while senior libero Jessie Bergeron finished the night with 14 digs.