Finally, to the final
The look on Tammy Lambrou’s face was one of disbelief.
But this time, it wasn’t because her Merrimack High School girls volleyball team saw its season ending early.
After failing to make it past the Division I semifinals the previous two years, the No. 1 Tomahawks punched their ticket Wednesday to the championship with a dominating 3-0 win over No. 4 Salem in a semifinal match at Pinkerton Academy.
Now, Merrimack will take on No. 2 Pinkerton, which escaped with a 3-2 win against Nashua North, for the title at 5 p.m. Saturday, also at Pinkerton.
“We’ve been here the past two years prior to this and hadn’t made it past this round,” Lambrou said. “These kids know what this feels like and really wanted to get it done (Wednesday).”
The Tomahawks (21-0) were in control from start to finish, as they have been for most of the season. Salem had a 1-0 lead in each game before Merrimack took control, winning 25-15, 25-13 and 25-19.
Jen Coffey led the way with 17 kills and 14 digs, while Elise Jolly added 14 digs, 11 kills and seven blocks and Jo Coffey chipped in with 40 assists, 13 digs and two aces. But Lambrou felt that everyone on the floor contributed to putting together what felt like a near-perfect match.
“Everything was there and everyone contributed, which is big for us,” she said. “We’re not relying on just one player and that helps put us over the edge as well.”
Salem (16-5) kept the first game close early before Merrimack won 10 straight points to turn a 6-6 game into a 16-6 lead. The led stretched to as many as 13 before the Blue Devils closed the gap to make it a 10-point match.
The second game was much of the same, as Jen Coffey served eight straight points to help the Tomahawks go up 22-10 before closing out the game for a 2-0 lead.
The Blue Devils made things interesting at the end of Game 3, pulling to within two points, 21-19, and forcing Merrimack to take its only time out of the match. But the Tomahawks won the final four points to advance.
“It’s unbelievable feeling right now,” Jen Coffey said. “We were so sick of losing in the final four. That’s in the past and now we have to keep moving forward.”