Despite their modest seeding, a rematch between Natick and Lincoln-Sudbury in the Central volleyball final was no shock as the two schools have dominated the bracket for much of the 2000s under the two of state’s most accomplished coaches in the Redhawks’ Peter Suxho and the Warriors’ Bunny McClung.
Still, considering the graduation losses both team’s suffered from last year’s squad, it may have been at least a mild surprise, and certainly a testament to the strength and depth of both programs. In a tight match that saw no lead greater than five points all night, it was No. 6 Natick that survived to claim a third straight sectional crown in four sets, 25-21, 23-25, 25-23, 25-21.
“Only one returning player from last year, we lost eight seniors, so what we did tonight is huge for our program,” said Suxho. “They got the lesson from beating them last year, so they knew and they believed, but it was going to be harder because of our youth.”
Senior Brett Olen, the setter on all three title teams and only starter back from last year, controlled the action with 43 assists despite a brief injury scare when he tweaked his hip in the second set. Brendan Carroll led the hitting brigade with 17 kills, Connor Reardon added 14 and Will Landry 11, while Olen chipped in five of his own for the Redhawks, now 16-4
“If you told us after the first game when we lost 3-0 to Newton North and they crushed us that we were going to win it I would have said you were lying,” said senior captain Brett Olen. “The progress that we have had is just insane.”
Down 23-18 in the clinching fourth set after eight lead changes early, L-S (13-10) tried to rally behind Brennan Rotar, who was a weapon for the No. 13 Warriors at net, winning three straight points to get within 23-21. But consecutive attacks were just wide to seal the match.
“Lincoln-Sudbury is great program, they are always good and they gave us a great fight, but I am just happy that we persevered,” said Olen.
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