HOLYOKE – Tick … tick … BOOM!
The second-seeded Westfield Bombers stormed out of the locker room and exploded past top seed, Chicopee Comp, 3-0 in the Western Massachusetts Division 1 high school boys’ volleyball finals Monday night at Holyoke Community College.
The Bombers swept the Colts, 25-9, 25-13, 25-16 to claim the team’s first championship title.
“This was the dream we had all year,” Westfield High boys’ volleyball varsity head coach Tyler Wingate said.
For Chicopee Comp (17-2), it was a nightmare.
Comp captain Sean Buxton delivered a kill for the match’s opening point. It was the one and only lead the Colts would enjoy all night.
After taking a 1-0 lead, Chicopee Comp committed a service error and the game was tied 1-all.
Westfield (19-2) went up by two points early. Comp tied it 4-4 before Isaiah Headley (6 kills, 11 digs, ace) struck a point with a kill to reclaim the lead for the Bombers. Although Headley was solid at the net all night, it was his serving which made a huge difference.
“Isaiah’s serving was off the charts,” coach Wingate said of the senior Bomber, who spent endless hours fine-tuning his serve before the big night.
With Headley serving, Westfield went on a 9-0 run to go ahead 20-7.
Comp was reeling. The Colts tried to defuse the Bombers with two timeouts in the first game to no avail. Manny Golob (14 kills, 10 digs, 2 aces) ended the set with a kill.
It was more of the same in the middle frame.
Chicopee Comp attempted to throw Westfield off balance with a soft touch here or there. The Colts tried to smash the ball with a ferocious overhand punch from time to time. There was always one Bomber or another around to thwart the attempt though.
Golob skied high, and added the finishing touches with finesse like when he put a nice touch on the ball, one-handing a floater to the opposite right corner of the court to give the team a 19-12 lead in the second set, or when he used sheer power to hammer home a kill for a 23-12 lead a short time later.
“We were just playing like we were in control, like it was our game,” Golob said. “We had them on their heels, and we just kept pushing.”
Westfield completed a 7-0 run – fueled once again by the low, solid serves of Headley – as John Bucko (5 kills) converged with teammates for one of his four blocks. The Bombers led 24-12.
Comp managed a point, but that’s all.
The third set was a mere formality as Chicopee Comp imploded. The Colts were so rattled that they were becoming entangled with the ball like a bad juggling act, also hitting it out of bounds and into the net.
“One of the big things is that everyone said they were going to be there,” said the team’s spirited leader, Eric Shilyuk. “Then every time I looked to the stands, you could see everyone there sitting in black.”
Shilyuk said he felt the throng of students, friends, family members, and alumni overwhelmed Chicopee Comp. The Bombers’ fans roared with delight.
Comp settled down to string together a 4-0 run midway through the final set, rallying to within three points of a tie, 14-11. Up to that point, Westfield had suffocated the Colts, holding to them to no more than two straight points.
The Bombers kept the opposition from gaining any momentum though as Shilyuk (20 assists, 4 blocks, ace) converged with Bucko for a block.
Even Lady Luck was rooting for Westfield when Golob smacked a serve into the net. The ball rolled up the threads of the net, and trickled over for an ace and a 20-13 advantage.
If Chicopee Comp did not know it’s night and postseason run was finished before that point, it did then. The Bombers finished off the Colts in Game Three, 25-16.
“I think we just wanted it more than them,” Golob said.
Westfield will now advance to the state tournament. Details will be announced in the coming days.
Check out video of the team’s final point and celebration online now…