Monday, April 13, 2015

Andover girls beat rival North Andover for sectional volleyball title

TEWKSBURY — Andover’s Julia McBride tipped the ball over the net and it fell to the ground. The Golden Warriors shouted, pumped their fists, and rushed together.

This time, it wasn’t a usual post-point huddle. There was a little more yelling and a little more jumping involved. Andover was the Division 1 North champion.

“My excitement level’s an 11 out of 10,” junior Wyllie Boughton said. “So, so excited.”

Andover (16-1) beat rival North Andover, 3-1 (21-25, 25-23, 25-19, 25-17), Sunday afternoon and will play Natick in the state semifinals Wednesday at 7 p.m. in Canton.

Andover lost the first set but stormed back to take control.

“We’ve been doing this all season,” coach Jane Bergin said. “We’re kind of the comeback kids.”

Andover’s only loss of the season came against North Andover. Andover senior captain Azita Bakhtyari wanted to play North Andover in the sectional final. She got the chance, and she and her teammates delivered.

“Azita Bakhtyari, our leader, wanted to go out a champion,” Bergin said.

North Andover took the first set as juniors Jillian Boyle and Catherine Flaherty controlled the tempo. Boughton acknowledged she was nervous at the start, but those nerves quickly subsided.

The Golden Warriors surged back to win the second set as Bakhtyari tipped the ball to Boughton, who put it away for point No. 25.

Freshman Julia Karim, who elicited a “She’s a freshman!” chant from the North Andover faithful, nearly led her team to a third-set win, but Amy Stankiewicz, Madelyn Reppucci, and Mackenzie Kennedy ensured that didn’t happen.

In the fourth set, Boughton hit the net multiple times early. But she responded, helping her team win three consecutive points.

On the final play, Bakhtyari set the ball to McBride, who put just enough mustard on it.

Andover got the point, and payback.

Said Bakhtyari, “It feels amazing. Our team really came together.”

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