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Bears sweep past Raiders in season finale

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by Joshua Spaulding
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Sports Editor - Salmon Press Newspapers

Winnisquam's Kayla Briere tries to hit the ball over the defense of Belmont's Alyzabeth O'Connell in action Friday night in Belmont. (Photo by Joshua Spaulding) (click for larger version)
October 29, 2020
BELMONT — The Winnisquam and Belmont volleyball teams wrapped up the regular season with a match in Belmont on Friday, Oct. 23.

Belmont got off to a quick start but it was Winnisquam that took care of business in the end, finishing off a 3-0 win.

"We had a couple of lapses throughout the game where we let our guard down," said Winnisquam coach Kevin Archibald. "Once we figured out what we needed to do, we put on the pressure and did what we could."

"The girls worked really hard tonight," said Belmont coach Polly Camire. "The whole season has been difficult in terms of the schedule we played."

The Raiders got off to a hot start, scoring the first seven points out of the gate but the Bears slowly crawled back into the match, led by hits from Delaney Skourtis and Emma Richardson. Madeline Johnson had a hit for Belmont to get them back on board but Winnisquam answered with an ace from Emily O'Neil.

Belmont's Isabella McDonald made a great defensive reaction to a big hit from the Bears and Belmont pushed the lead to 13-9. A tip and hit from Skourtis sandwiched around a hit from Johnson on the other side helped Winnisquam draw closer. The Bears were able to pull even at 14 before Johnson had a hit for the Raiders. Winnisquam charged ahead behind an ace from Kayla Briere and a hit from Richardson, putting them up 21-17.

Belmont closed the gap to 21-19 on an ace from Alyzabeth O'Connell but then a block and kill from Kylie Stevens for Winnisquam got them back on track. O'Neil added a service ace and Winnisquam got the 25-19 win to start things off.

The second game saw Winnisquam get out to a quick lead behind hits from Briere and Skourtis, going up 5-0. A tip from McDonald got Belmont on the board but Richardson answered with a hit for Winnisquam. Johnson added a hit for Belmont but Richardson answered again and Winnisquam went up 8-2.

A hit and a block from Kat Davies got Belmont a bit closer but Stevens had a hit for the Bears and Richardson added a service ace to push the lead to 11-4. A hit and a tip from Skourtis pushed the lead to 14-4 before a nice defensive return from O'Connell put Belmont back on the board. A trio of service aces from O'Neill got the Bears out to a 18-6 lead.

Belmont got back on the board but an ace from Makenzie Foster helped Winnisquam continue to stretch the lead. Johnson added an ace for Belmont but Briere and Richardson came back with hits for the Bears and they closed out the 25-11 win for a 2-0 lead.

Winnisquam jumped out to a 6-0 lead in the third game behind hits from Stevens and Richardson. Belmont got a couple of points but the Bears got right back on the board, with Richardson adding another hit. Belmont got a hit from Johnson but O'Neil followed with an ace for the Bears.

The visitors got out to a 15-9 lead, but Belmont bounced back with hits from O'Connell and Lilly Carter, eventually tying the game at 15 and then taking the lead at 16-15. However, Winnisquam bounced back with a couple of hits from Richardson and a service ace from Ariana Williams. Belmont again battled back and tied the game at 20 on a hit from Davies but O'Neil and Richardson helped the Bears to close out the 25-22 win and the 3-0 victory.

"We needed a win like that, the last two of the season got us ready for Laconia on Monday (playoff match)," Archibald said. "We have to be able to eliminate the mistakes.

"Down 7-0 (in the first game), those are parts of the game we can't let happen," the Bear coach added. "They can come back to bite you.

"We can't look at a win as bad, it's always a good thing," Archibald added.

"It's hard to come back when you're down and they put it past them and stopped worrying about the score and they picked it up," Camire said. "And big kudos to the seniors for leading us on the court."

Davies, O'Connell and McDonald played their final home game for the Raiders in the loss.

The Raiders drew Newfound in the first round of the tournament, a team they last saw in the first game of the season.

"The schedule we've had this year, I'm hoping has prepared us to come back and be competitive against them this time," Camire added.

Winnisquam started the playoffs after deadline Monday at home against Laconia. If they won that game, they played after deadline Wednesday at Prospect Mountain. The quarterfinals are Friday night.

Belmont was at Newfound to open the playoffs after deadline Monday night. If they won that game, they played at Moultonborough after deadline on Wednesday. The quarterfinals are Friday night.

Sports Editor Joshua Spaulding can be reached at 279-4516, ext. 155 or josh@salmonpress.news.

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