Bishop Guertin boys volleyball rallies to top Keene
NASHUA – The No. 7 Bishop Guertin boys volleyball team rebounded from a loss in their opening set, winning three straight to take their opening-round playoff match against No. 10 Keene. The Cardinals lost the opener in overtime, 27-25, but rallied with 25-6, 25-12 and 25-18 victories.
Having defeated the Blackbirds (6-11) twice during the regular season, including a 3-0 drubbing only two weeks ago, the Cardinals (9-8) were expecting some changes from their opponent.
Their inkling proved to be correct. Keene shrugged off a five-point deficit and ultimately won the first set. The winning point barely cleared the net, and Donny Adie’s desperation dive proved to be too late.
“It was all about them getting mentally into the game,” Bishop Guertin coach Matt Box said. “I let the guys know that anything could happen in the tournament and to not get down over one loss. We chalked it up to a warm-up round.”
Box’s talk apparently worked as the Cardinals came out firing in the second set. Thanks to some superb serves from Adie, Bishop Guertin rattled off 16 straight points. In spite of the dominance, Box didn’t attribute his team’s sudden success to offense.
“We had to change up our defense,” he said. “We have different ways of defending certain attacks and Keene seemed to have caught on to our strategy. So, we had to switch it up.”
The Blackbirds had a brief rally in the fourth set, cutting a seven-point deficit to one.
Bishop Guertin didn’t panic and finished on a 7-1 run. Vadim Beliak had some memorable service points in the frame, while captains Alec O’Connor and Kyle Cushion had solid efforts throughout.
“The team has come together so much as a unit,” Box said. “I think that was the biggest thing about today; the team showing improvement in that area.”
The Cardinals quest to make it to their first championship won’t get any easier. They’ll be taking on last year’s runner-up, No. 2 Windham, in Tuesday’s quarterfinals.
“It’s going to be a completely different game,” Box said. “They have a lot of hard hitters, they move quicker. They just know how to look for good shots, but we’ll be ready for them.”