AMHERST – It was next man up for Hollis Brookline on Friday, and the Cavaliers’ depth delivered a victory.
Nick Wood racked up 13 kills and seven aces, pacing the defending champion Cavaliers to a 25-17, 25-17, 25-16 sweep of the Sabers at Souhegan.
Hollis Brookline (3-2) is dealing with absences due to spring vacation, but the likes of Kieran Mulligan, Josh Ide and Aidan Chretien filled the void admirably.
“I was impressed with a lot of younger players,” Hollis Brookline coach Ed Leonard said. “With vacation week, it was a little bit difficult. We were a little bit worried coming in here and missing half our starters. We squeaked it out and we relied on our younger players, who stepped up big.”
Mulligan finished with a team-high seven digs and Marshall Coutu added three kills. Mitchell Cochran had two aces, while Hayden Kubishta tallied 14 assists and two aces while manning an unfamiliar position.
“He was the setter for most of the game, but he’s a middle (hitter),” Leonard said of Kubishta. “We just relied on our bench and they came through.”
Matt Greany sparked the Sabers with a stellar defensive effort at libero, while Jackson Gordon orchestrated the offense at setter and ended with a team-high nine service points. Khaled Nazeer and Brian Wilson led Souhegan (0-5) in hitting with three kills apiece.
The Sabers are inexperienced, but are looking to stay positive and keep improving.
“We’ve had a rough season,” Souhegan coach Cassie Kurtz said. “The good thing is that they continuously improve as a team each game they play. The downside is that the division is really stacked this year. We have a whole new team, so it’s really tough.
“I thought they played really, really well,” Kurtz added. “They’re slowly getting better with their communication and their position.”
Hollis Brookline hopes to position itself for a title defense come June. Leonard says having a player like Wood makes that job easier.
“Nick Wood is having a heck of a year. He’s the guy hammering the ball down,” Leonard said. “He’s leading these guys. They’re looking to him for support and he’s giving it to them.”