Cavaliers fall short

The Hollis Brookline High School boys volleyball team knew it would take a great effort Wednesday night to knock off Salem.

The Cavaliers felt they could keep up with the Blue Devils, so long as they didn’t make too many mistakes.

HB was able to stay with Salem, but miscues were too frequent and the Cavs dropped their first match of the season to the Blue Devils in three sets. Game scores were 25-16, 25-21 and 26-24.

“I thought our team played really well,” HB coach Ed Leonard said. “You can’t make any mistakes. You have to be ice cold with them. Salem is a team that will take advantage of any mistake you make.”

Andrew Campbell led HB with 13 kills and eight digs, while Bobby Ripley had 18 assists and Nick Wood added five kills.

Salem also remained undefeated, something that’s the norm for the Blue Devils, who have won every NHIAA title since the sport was sanctioned in 2004 and have only lost two matches in that stretch.

“We executed pretty well, we blocked pretty well,” Salem coach John Roemer said. “We still have stuff to work on, but overall, it was pretty good. We’ve been battling back all year. We except to win, so we keep battling and battling, and it’s just a mindset that we know we can play with anybody. We can come back in any match.”

After winning the first game, that’s what Salem had to do in the final two games. HB got out to an early lead and was up 9-7 before the Blue Devils won five points in a row behind the serving of Matt LaVasseur (four aces, four blocks).

The Cavs were able to stay close, but made several service errors that ended up costing them the game.

“That’s something we work hard on in practice, too, not giving teams points,” Leonard said. “We can score when we want to, but we’ve got to stop giving teams points. If we hadn’t given away 10 service points to them, that second game, we probably would have won.”

The Blue Devils looked like they were going to cruise in the third game, but HB won 10 of 12 points behind the serving of Campbell and Nate Thomas, going from down 7-3 to up 14-9. The Cavs led for most of the match, but Salem rallied to take a 23-21 lead.

HB stayed alive and went ahead 24-23 on an ace by Bret Belden, but Salem came back and got two aces from LaVasseur to end the match.

“Salem is a great team and they have a great coach,” Leonard said. “It’s definitely a test and that’s what we needed. We needed to see where we’re at and were need to get to improve to get to where we want to be.”