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Dominance cut short by sectional finals heartbreaker

By Jason Yoffe
Published: November 2009

The Lions suffered a heartbreaking loss against Quincy High School in the Central-East Sectional Finals, losing the last set 15-13 on a service error.

“It is a tough way to go out, Head Volleyball Coach Todd Elwell said. “You are in the moment, and you have your chance. You can see it’s right there, almost in your grasp.

The Girls’ Volleyball team got off to a hot start in the match, winning the first set over Quincy 25-17.
Quincy came back in the second set, hitting difficult to return serves. South then retook control of the match by winning the third set.

According to Elwell, Quincy remained resilient, their change in strategy tying the match. The Lions soon after dropped the fourth set.

“They [Quincy] got better defensively in the second half of the match, he said. “They made defensive adjustments that allowed them to return some shots that we hit.

In the final set, the Lions drew first blood, being first to reach eight points. Quincy fought back, however, and eventually took the sectional finals.

Despite the loss, the Lions performed remarkably, Elwell says. Senior and captain Vanessa Gailius recorded 23 of the team’s 25 assists. Senior and captain Celina Chan served four aces in 15 attempts.

Senior Allison Leipzig led the team with eight blocks in a strong night at the net. In all, the team delivered 27 kills and 10 aces against Quincy.

The team dwelled more on the conclusion of the season rather than on the loss of the game.

“We were more upset that the season was over, Gailius said about the team’s reaction to the defeat.

“We didn’t want the season to come to an end. The fact that we were able to reach the sectional finals in two consecutive seasons is a major accomplishment.

“I accept that we lost, Leipzig said. “At the same time, I admire our season.

The team’s season was one of the best in program history, according to Elwell.

For the six seniors in the season’s regular rotation of substitutions, the 2008 tournament experience contributed to their season.

“Because of our experience, we knew what it took to win, Gailius said.

The team ended five-year losing streaks to both Lincoln-Sudbury and Westford this season, making comebacks against each team.

The Girls’ Volleyball team rode this momentum into the tournament, and continued their dominance in the first round. With nearly half the serves resulting in aces, the team produced the highest percentage of aces to serves in Elwell’s five years as head coach.

The semi-final match against cross-town rival Newton North demonstrated the strength of this year’s squad.

“We wanted to go into their house and prove we could beat them, Gailius said.

North, with five Dual County League (DCL) All-Stars and a 17-1 record, prepared for a season-sweep against the Lions.

“It will be quite a battle, North Head Volleyball Coach Richard Barton said before the match. “It will come down to the team that plays better that day.

The Lions proved the regular season match against North did not exhibit their true potential, as they defeated North in straight sets.

The players felt that the fans contributed to their victory over the second seed in the tournament.

Even though the match was located in the Tiger’s gym, South faculty, parents, and students made up roughly half of the spectators.

“I thought the crowd was great, Leipzig said. “There was a lot of energy and enthusiasm in the gym.
Senior Gabe Feldstein believes the loss to Quincy should not take away from the team’s season.

“At the end of the day, they fought hard, Feldstein said. “Making it [back to the sectional finals] and playing competitively is an accomplishment.

The Lions received the DCL Sportsmanship Award this season.

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