The Tanners then slid junior Olivia Summit to the middle alongside Scacchi. The hosts kept it close in that stanza, with senior setter Jen Pearl (16 assists) finding her rhythm setting up Scacchi for momentum-swinging kills.
“We struggled with passing and serving at times, and it kind of came together tonight in that game,” Keene said. “That was rewarding for the girls, to see all that practice time and drills paying off.”
Central build a 20-15 lead in the third game but Peabody rallied. The Tanners scored the last five points, turning a 23-19 hole into a 25-23 win on DeFelice’s serve.
“They stuck with us in that third game. We never had that rally to put us in front, which we had in the games we won,” Paris said. “Especially here, with a great crowd and a lot of emotion, we didn’t want to give them anything to get happy about. We needed to limit their rallies and stop them from scoring consecutive points so they didn’t get their crowd going.”
The Raiders did exactly that in the final set, riding libero Michelle Bouchard’s serve to the first nine points of the game. The Tanners fell behind 13-3 and couldn’t stage a run of their own to keep the match alive, falling 25-13. Keene was also impressed with Bouchard’s ability to defend and get the ball to setter Imprescia.
“She’s one of the best I’ve seen,” Keene said of Bouchard, who had 33 digs. “She got to everything, and she made sure their setter didn’t have to work so hard to make all those passes.”
The Tanners’ 17 wins were the most for the team since 2007 and tied for the second most in Keene’s nine seasons. The NEC champs graduate five seniors in Pearl, Mikayla Wallace (four kills, one block), Kim Sousa (two kills, two assists), Lauryn Zaimes (two assists, one ace) and libero Catherine Houlden.
“They’re all amazing girls, great students that really worked hard,” Keene said of the seniors. “This team had great morale and they kept that going. They’re true leaders on and off the court.”