Girls’ volleyball: Newfound dashes Viking title hopes in state championship

  • The Mascenic girls' volleyball team played Newfound in the NHIAA Division III championship game at Pinkerton Academy on Saturday, Nov. 6, 2021. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Mascenic girls' volleyball team played Newfound in the NHIAA Division III championship game at Pinkerton Academy on Saturday, Nov. 6, 2021. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Mascenic girls' volleyball team played Newfound in the NHIAA Division III championship game at Pinkerton Academy on Saturday, Nov. 6, 2021. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Mascenic girls' volleyball team played Newfound in the NHIAA Division III championship game at Pinkerton Academy on Saturday, Nov. 6, 2021. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Mascenic girls' volleyball team played Newfound in the NHIAA Division III championship game at Pinkerton Academy on Saturday, Nov. 6, 2021. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Mascenic girls' volleyball team played Newfound in the NHIAA Division III championship game at Pinkerton Academy on Saturday, Nov. 6, 2021. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Mascenic girls' volleyball team played Newfound in the NHIAA Division III championship game at Pinkerton Academy on Saturday, Nov. 6, 2021. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Mascenic girls' volleyball team played Newfound in the NHIAA Division III championship game at Pinkerton Academy on Saturday, Nov. 6, 2021. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Mascenic girls' volleyball team played Newfound in the NHIAA Division III championship game at Pinkerton Academy on Saturday, Nov. 6, 2021. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Mascenic girls' volleyball team played Newfound in the NHIAA Division III championship game at Pinkerton Academy on Saturday, Nov. 6, 2021. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Mascenic girls' volleyball team played Newfound in the NHIAA Division III championship game at Pinkerton Academy on Saturday, Nov. 6, 2021. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Mascenic girls' volleyball team played Newfound in the NHIAA Division III championship game at Pinkerton Academy on Saturday, Nov. 6, 2021. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Mascenic girls' volleyball team played Newfound in the NHIAA Division III championship game at Pinkerton Academy on Saturday, Nov. 6, 2021. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Mascenic girls' volleyball team played Newfound in the NHIAA Division III championship game at Pinkerton Academy on Saturday, Nov. 6, 2021. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Mascenic girls' volleyball team played Newfound in the NHIAA Division III championship game at Pinkerton Academy on Saturday, Nov. 6, 2021. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Mascenic girls' volleyball team played Newfound in the NHIAA Division III championship game at Pinkerton Academy on Saturday, Nov. 6, 2021. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Mascenic girls' volleyball team played Newfound in the NHIAA Division III championship game at Pinkerton Academy on Saturday, Nov. 6, 2021. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Mascenic girls' volleyball team played Newfound in the NHIAA Division III championship game at Pinkerton Academy on Saturday, Nov. 6, 2021. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Mascenic girls' volleyball team played Newfound in the NHIAA Division III championship game at Pinkerton Academy on Saturday, Nov. 6, 2021. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Mascenic girls' volleyball team played Newfound in the NHIAA Division III championship game at Pinkerton Academy on Saturday, Nov. 6, 2021. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 11/8/2021 8:23:49 AM

And just like that, Mascenic’s championship hopes were dashed.

The Vikings were a season-long powerhouse, undefeated save for one loss at defending champion Newfound early in the fall. Coming in to Saturday’s NHIAA Division III championship game at Pinkerton, the No. 2 Vikings looked like they could contend with anyone, and the Mascenic faithful hoped that the No. 1 Bears’ early-season victory was long in the rearview. But Newfound proved otherwise, quickly, dominating Mascenic in the first two sets and making a huge comeback in the third to win their second straight title.

“I was expecting us to play with more confidence early on,” Mascenic head coach Karen Gibson said, “because I think we’ve earned the right to be confident. I think we were making decisions that showed otherwise, offensively. So I’m a little confused still about why that happened.”

Gibson’s Vikings played to the scouting report and defended Newfound hitters Paulina Huckins and Malina Bohlmann well, but Mascenic did the Bears too many favors. The Vikings had trouble with the serve receive – usually a Mascenic strong point – with hesitance and indecision on the return keeping the Vikings on their heels.

“I think it must have been nerves,” Gibson said, “or I don’t really know what else, why serve receive was such an issue. Not to take anything away from Newfound – obviously they have some skilled players – but I would put our serve receive up against anybody in this division and we just didn’t show that tonight. It’s hard to beat a good team if you’re not running your offense.”

Viking senior superstar Annika Martel took some time to find her game Saturday, overhitting early on and then dialing her hits down conservatively before coming alive in the third. The usually near-flawless Vikings made errors all around at the net and left crucial points on the table, resulting in two quick Newfound wins and a 2-0 hole going into what would be the final set.

“Newfound has the experience and they have the confidence and they have the skill to put us away when we’re not playing with them,” Gibson said.

The girls finally settled down and found their game in the third set, jumping out to a quick 10-point lead, with Delaney Traffie, Lyla Buxton, Hannah Zina, Kenzie Cormier, Lindsey Coponen and Martel all contributing, and it appeared that the Vikings would make a match of it. But the Bears, down 19-5, roared back and closed it out 25-23 for their second straight title win, the senior Huckins tearfully embracing her teammates on their final go-round.

The Vikings will have to replace Martel and fellow senior Saige Wescott next fall, but aside from that, Mascenic will return nearly every member of the 17-2 state runners-up and should be a contender yet again.

“Once the disappointment subsides, we have to be proud of what we’ve accomplished this year,” Gibson said. “Getting to this game, we didn’t leave anything – we got to play all the games that we could this season. The girls definitely can be proud of where we got, and hopefully it fuels their desire for more.”


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