DANVERS — It's on to the North finals for undefeated Danvers volleyball.
The Falcons defeated Bedford in three straight sets at home Thursday night, 25-13, 25-21, 25-20 with a solid team effort.
One of the reasons for this year's success is the team first mentality, a group effort from start to finish.
"We spend every second together," said captain Jianna Durand. "I think that's why we've been winning because we're so close. Nothing Bedford did surprised us, and at times when we started to get down the only reason was because of our mistakes. It's a mental game, and we had to focus to fix them."
Durand had what coach George LeVasseur called her best game of the season. The right side hitter had seven kills and four aces; she came up with two key kills in the third set, including one to help extend a streak of four straight points to take a 13-6 lead.
Fellow senior captain Maddie Montanari, a middle blocker, also came up with a strong performance. She had eight kills, two blocks and six digs. Montanari made some big plays, especially late in the second set to spark the win after the Buccaneers had taken an early lead and it was tied five times. The last time was at 20-20 before Danvers scored the next four points with Durand serving and went on to win.
"We give each other a lot of support," said Montanari. "It's awesome to be going to the finals. We did it when we were sophomores but lost to Melrose so it's good to redeem our younger selves."
"I think this team's unity is what makes a big difference," added LeVasseur, his Falcons the No. 3 seed with a still perfect 23-0 record. "We play as a team and that really explains who we are."
Bedford had defeated Bishop Fenwick in three sets earlier in the week. LeVasseur and his team were on hand to scout that match and were prepared.
"Their No. 22 (Olivia Roscoe) is technically one of the best volleyball players I've seen in a long time," said LeVasseur. "It's hard to believe No. 23 (Gabby Zovko) is only a freshman. We knew this was not going to be a walk in the park. Bedford (14-9) is strong enough to come back when they get down. I kept telling the girls when we got a lead that it was far from over.
"Going to watch them play Bishop Fenwick definitely helped, but they were a completely different team tonight."
The first set was back and forth early on before the Falcons scored seven unanswered points with Carly Goodhue serving to take a 22-10 lead. Goodhue, a junior outside hitter, was another key player in the win with 11 kills, four digs and three aces. Shayla Saad chipped in with four kills and three blocks. Her best set was the last, and when it was close the junior middle blocker came up big.
"Shayla and Jianna stepped up the way we needed them to late in the match," said Levasseur. "There were so many different players that helped out I could name just about any of them."
Setter Lily Eldridge had 25 assists, three aces and four kills and was consistently strong in all three sets with crisp passes. Junior middle blocker Megan Murphy and libero Cassidy Malley also made key contributions.
"We knew this was going to be a battle because Danvers is a very talented, hard hitting team," said Bedford coach Lisa Predaina. "We knew what to expect, but they run the most diverse and fastest offense we've seen. Give credit to them for a great game plan.
"We're a strong blocking team, and they put pressure on our blockers. It's been a fun season, and my girls are so selfless they don't know how to quit. Whenever we got down they found a way to bring us back."
The Division 2 North final is Saturday at Tewksbury High (3 p.m.) against the winner of Lynnfield and Melrose.