Lee volleyball team makes statement with 3-0 win over Lenox

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GEOFF SMITH - THE BERKSHIRE EAGLE
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LENOX — Any questions about where the Lee volleyball team stands in the hierarchy of Berkshire County were answered on Friday at Lenox.

Both teams entered with undefeated records. Both teams had sizable cheering sections, with rival and college coaches mixed in to watch the highly anticipated match.

The stage was bright, but the Wildcats were not moved by the occasion. They played a strong all-around game for a 3-0 sweep of the Millionaires. The set scores were 25-17, 25-17 and 25-12.

The Wildcats (8-0) set the tone early with Bailey Thomas and Ahna Schlaefer crowding the net, blocking or altering the Millionaires' spikes. Their presence led to several unforced errors by Lenox (9-1), with spikes hitting the net or going out of bounds. Lee wanted to impose its will on Lenox and quiet any questions about who was the top dog in the county.

"It was absolutely a Berkshire County statement game," Lee coach John Warner said. "There's been a lot of chirping going on of late. We kind of squelched that, which is a beautiful thing."

Lee feeling like an underdog is surprising given the storied history of the program, but the Wildcats definitely played with a chip on their shoulders.

As the game progressed, passes found hitter Lydia Morawiec and she spiked them home, unleashing an enthusiastic scream in celebration. Morawiec and Schlaefer had seven kills each. Thomas had eight kills. Suriana Lee had 27 assists and Anna Wang added 16 digs.

"We were nervous but there was still a lot of energy," Morawiec said. "We just really wanted to set out to do what we can do and be our best. Really bring all that we had onto the court, because this is what we've really been working for."

After taking the second set, Lee carried its momentum into the third. Suriana Lee notched two aces early and Morawiec recorded a kill, putting the 'Cats up 4-1. A strong serving streak from Thomas extended the lead to 9-4. Later in the set, BomBee Lahart's kill brought Lenox within three, but Lee used a 13-2 run to put the match away.

Anna Lynch led Lenox with seven digs. Riley Burke had two aces, two kills and eight digs. Kasey Vallee added three aces and three digs.

While Lee's players are used to the hype of tournament championship games, Lenox struggled to adjust to the tournament-type atmosphere. Lenox coach Bessena Cabe said Friday's game is a learning experience for his club.

"We hyped it up enough so we could get a lot of people here to watch the girls play and I think that got to them a little bit," he said. "They were a little nervous. We were able to see what [the Wildcats] have to come up with, the holes that are in their defense and their offense. That's something we've got to go back to our gym and work on."

Even with the graduation of several talented seniors, Lee showed that its still a force to be reckoned with in the county and Division III. Frontier coach Sean MacDonald took in the game, doing some scouting in case the 'Cats can return to the Western Massachusetts D-III championship for the third year in a row.

Warner said his team may look different in how they get things done, but they're still effective.

"There's a reason why [MacDonald] is here, he knows that we're a dangerous team," Warner said. "We're an unorthodox team. He's a smart guy. He's a real good coach. He's going to come in here and scout us and find our weak spots. But all-in-all, really pleased with the performance today."

Reach sports writer Akeem Glaspie at 413-496-6252 or @TheAkeemGlaspie.


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