Merrimack High School was on the verge of losing just its third game all season when the top-seeded Tomahawks rallied to even the score, and eventually capture a Division I girls volleyball title over No. 2 Pinkerton Academy on the Astros home court.
The Tomahawks (22-0) ran down the Astros (19-3) 25-16, 25-22 and 28-26.
Merrimack came back from a seven-point deficit in that third game to even the game at 23-23. The
Tomahawks would hold two serves for game-point at 25-24 and 26-25 but were unable to close the match.
Finally sophomore Elise Jolly closed things out with her fifth kill of the night for a 28-26 win and Tomahawks celebration at center court.
“I knew it,” Jolly said. “As soon as I hit it, I knew it was over.
“Setting up the shot, all I could think was finish this now. We’re not going one more.”
Merrimack took Game 1 with relative ease. Pinkerton showed life in Game 2 and Game 3, but it wasn’t to be for the Astros.
Merrimack coach Tammy Lambrou has been building up to this moment for four years.
“Four years ago we lost in the state championship to Hollis Brookline,” Lambrou said. “Over the last two years we lost in the semifinals to Goffstown and then last year to Salem.
“So there are kids who have been on this team for a while, and have been here, and remember what it felt like. They made a pact that they were taking it all this year and going undefeated.
“To be honest, they were upset they lost two sets, but we stuck to our guns all year. We played hard all year. We played our game all year. It showed today. It showed.”
She had plenty of Tomahawks stepping up in the title game.
Jen Coffey led the way with 16 kills, two blocks and 12 digs. Her sister Jo Coffey chipped in with 29 assists and three aces.
When Jolly finished the match off, everything was a blur for Jen Coffey.
“I couldn’t even think straight at that point,” the senior said. “All that was going through my head was volleyball, volleyball. I couldn’t even think at that point. I feel numb right now.”
Others getting in on the fun included Jolly, who had nine digs to go along with her five kills, and Katie Flynn, who recorded three kills and six digs. Caitlyn Paulson (12 digs) and Lianna Klinger (seven digs) played great defense for the Tomahawks.