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Mascenic boys volleyball wins opener, 3-1

  • The Mascenic boys volleyball team defeated Keene 3-1 in the season opener on April 9, 2013.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)
  • The Mascenic boys volleyball team defeated Keene 3-1 in the season opener on April 9, 2013.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)
  • The Mascenic boys volleyball team defeated Keene 3-1 in the season opener on April 9, 2013.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)
  • The Mascenic boys volleyball team defeated Keene 3-1 in the season opener on April 9, 2013.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)
  • The Mascenic boys volleyball team defeated Keene 3-1 in the season opener on April 9, 2013.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)
  • The Mascenic boys volleyball team defeated Keene 3-1 in the season opener on April 9, 2013.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)
  • The Mascenic boys volleyball team defeated Keene 3-1 in the season opener on April 9, 2013.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)
  • The Mascenic boys volleyball team defeated Keene 3-1 in the season opener on April 9, 2013.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)
  • The Mascenic boys volleyball team defeated Keene 3-1 in the season opener on April 9, 2013.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)
  • The Mascenic boys volleyball team defeated Keene 3-1 in the season opener on April 9, 2013.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)
  • The Mascenic boys volleyball team defeated Keene 3-1 in the season opener on April 9, 2013.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)
  • The Mascenic boys volleyball team defeated Keene 3-1 in the season opener on April 9, 2013.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)
  • The Mascenic boys volleyball team defeated Keene 3-1 in the season opener on April 9, 2013.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)

Prior to Tuesday’s season opener, the Mascenic boys volleyball team already had a win.

But so did everybody else. With Oyster River unable to field a team, the Vikings — along with the 13 other Division I teams — received a forfeit victory. While it was nice to have that win, Mascenic was more worried about earning one on the court against Keene on Tuesday.

And the Vikings didn’t panic when they dropped the first game to the Blackbirds. Instead, Mascenic continued to play the style of volleyball that first-year coach Greg Smith believes will make this team successful, and it resulted in three straight wins and a 3-1 victory.

“It was very important for us to get a win,” said senior Robert Cooley. “We’ve spent the last two weeks practicing very hard for this. It was a really good win for us.”

Like a lot of teams in their season openers, the Vikings got off to a slow start and Keene took an early advantage. They trailed 11-5 before rallying to score nine of the next 11 points for a 14-13 edge. It was back and forth for most of the remaining part of the game until Keene scored seven of the final nine points to put Mascenic down 1-0.

“I don’t think it’s a bad thing that we lost the first set because they saw their ability to come back,” said Smith.

Smith saw that his team was not communicating very well and the passing was off. But as the match wore on, there was an improvement in both areas and, the Vikings began to play much better.

“We need a little bit more communication,” said junior Luke Moran. “People were getting in the way of the setter and if we hadn’t had that we could have won each game by a few more points.”

It was evident that these two teams were similar in many ways and that it would come down to who played better down the stretch. In game two, Keene once again built up an early lead only to have Mascenic come storming back. Much like the first game, it was back and forth through the middle section of the game, but this time around it was the Vikings who took control down the stretch. With the game tied at 17, sophomore Braden Somero tipped one into the middle of the Keene defense and sophomore Justin Somero added a pair of spikes to help the Vikings tie the match, 25-19.

The third game could have gone either way — much like the first two. Neither team led by more than five and for the majority of the time, the advantage was one or two points either way. But the Vikings kept the momentum from their game two win and found a way to pull it out, 25-23, winning the final two points.

“In the first game, they showed us what they were made of, but we came back in the second game and beat them and then did it again,” said Cooley.

And in the fourth game, Keene had no match for Cooley. The senior middle hitter dominated with three tips and four spikes, including his last slam that snapped a 23-23 tie that gave Mascenic the lead and eventually a 25-23 victory.

“He’s phenomenal in that front row,” said Smith of Cooley. “If he does as well as he did today, we’ll be in good shape.”

It was a good start for the Vikings, who returned just six players from last year’s 5-11 squad. All six of those players started and saw the majority of the action, with the exception of senior newcomer Nikolai Brovin filling in for Cooley on the back line.

“We’re getting more used to working with each other,” said Moran. “We just had to pull it all together.”

But the goal is to get all 14 players to a position where they can contribute to a match. With seniors Jason Littlefield and Nick Baldwin out for Tueday’s game, the bench was a little shorter than it would have been this early in the season.

For Smith, who has not coached organized volleyball before, it was just good to finally see the team in action.

“We’ve still got some work to do as far as getting every serve in and communicating with the setter, but we can work on those,” said Smith.

Mascenic travels to Dover on Friday before returning home on Tuesday against Londonderry.

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