“The seniors were amazing; they’re all so all-around strong,” said Keene. “They’ve had a bond since freshman year that’s progressed. They support each other and this year they really supported the younger kids as well.”
Peabody played with gusto and won a number of long points that could’ve swung the match in their favor. Each time, though, Haverhill’s Haley DeRoche (9 kills in all) seemed to come up with a momentum-killing spike.
The Hillies passed well, with Ornela Llupo collecting 28 assists while setting up primarily DeRoche and Abigail Sonuga (12 kills).
Haverhill also had a decisive advantage in service errors (only 3 to Peabody’s 6) and aces (8 compared to 4 for Peabody).
“Looking at the season stats, their serving percentage was huge compared to ours and their ace percentage was better,” said Keene. “We knew that and we were ready for it, but we couldn’t defend it.”
Peabody jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the opening set but Haverhill used a 10-2 run to take control and wound up cruising to their easiest win of the three sets. The Tanners trailed early in the second set, but came back to tie it 17-17. Haverhill got the better of the serving down the stretch, however, to take a commanding 2-0 lead.
“The girls got so up for Methuen (a 3-2 quarterfinal win) the other night that we might’ve lost a little adrenaline for this game,” said Keene.
“Our improvement the last 6-7 games has been tremendous. The girls really put it all out there to get better. That showed tonight — but we didn’t end up on the winning end.”