Hollis Brookline bounced from volleyball tournament

NASHUA – The Windham Jaguars now have a chance to earn a state championship on Saturday, emerging victorious in straight sets against the Hollis-Brookline Cavaliers during Thursday’s NHIAA Division I Boys’ Volleyball Tournament Semifinals.

Windham dominated most of the first game, emerging from an early 4-4 tie to emerge with a 25-15 set victory. Hollis-Brookline didn’t hold a single lead in that first game, but battled in a back-and-forth second frame that saw 15 lead changes.

The Jaguars eventually took that second game, 32-30, but the Cavaliers made another determined effort in the third set. There, the Cavaliers opened up a three-point lead on a pair of occasions, but the Jaguars proved to be just too much. Windham caught up near the middle of the set and began to pull away, fighting off one last Cavalier rally to take the final stanza, 25-23.

Thursday’s win marked the third time this year that Windham has won without dropping a game to Hollis-Brookline, following wins on April 15 and May 10.

Despite the lopsided outcome, Windham head coach Matt Bynon had nothing but praise for his opponents.

“It’s always tough coming to a neutral site, but I thought our seniors finished strong,” said Bynon. “The second set was a little shaky, we missed eight serves, and Hollis kept coming every single game.”

Hollis-Brookline head coach Ed Leonard also praised his boys as well as Windham, stating that even though his squad hadn’t quite narrowed the game with Windham’s talent, they had made significant strides over the season.

“I’ve got a bunch of guys that have never touched a volleyball before on this team (before the season), so I thought we did pretty well. We hung with them, “ said Leonard. “On that first set, we got the jitters out of the way, on the second set we came back battling and took that pretty deep. Third set, we just had some mental mistakes and could have turned it around. These guys work really well late, and they have energy and stamina for days. I hoped we could have gotten to the fourth and fifth set and taken care of business.”

Including their tournament win over Timberland on Tuesday, the Cavaliers finish the year 13-5, with three of those losses coming at the hands of Windham.

On Saturday, Windham returns to Nashua North for a chance to avenge their only defeat, a 3-2 loss at home against Salem on April 12.

Saturday’s championship between Windham and Salem is scheduled to start at 6 p.m.