WELLESLEY -- The No. 3-seeded King Philip Regional volleyball team held a one-set advantage with two games left in the Division 1 Central/East Sectional final, but No. 4 seed Boston Latin found a second gear down the stretch to propel the Wolfpack to a 3-2 victory and claim the sectional title on Saturday at Wellesley High.
After the first three sets were decided by 11 total points, the Wolfpack pulled away in both the fourth game and decisive fifth set to earn the 25-22, 20-25, 22-25, 25-15, 15-8 verdict.
“I definitely think their hitters were starting to come on stronger,” KP coach Kristen Geuss said of Boston Latin, as the Warriors allowed an extensive amount of points on partial blocks, with seven blocking errors. “We had a hard time blocking No. 5 (Breann Cleary) and blocking No. 7 (Ashley Rooney), and we worked on it in practice. I just think we weren’t strong enough to keep the ball in. We were getting there, getting touches on it, but just hitting it out. I think that was a big part of it.”
When King Philip was at its best, the Warriors were being led by the front-row play of Catherine Waldeck (14 kills) and Nicole Coughlan (15 kills), the defensive play from Emma Brooks (team-high six digs), and the service and setting ability of Lauren Peterson (12 service points, four aces, team-high 21 assists).
Peterson was crucial in the Warriors evening the series up at 1-1, as she recorded eight straight service points during one stretch, which broke a 4-4 tie. The cushion provided by Peterson lasted throughout the majority of the game, as the Wolfpack never got within three points of the Warriors thereafter. Kristen Masse (14 assists) recorded a pair of service points, including one ace and another on a kill from Coughlan, to help KP take a 24-17 lead in the set before a Boston Latin service went into the net.
The Warriors were a different team with the front-row player Waldeck on the floor, and it proved true in the third-set win. After a dig from Peterson, Waldeck finished with a kill after a long rally to give KP a crucial 24-20 lead, and momentum in the game. KP wrapped up the third-set win two points later, which featured a block at the net from Waldeck and a game-winning kill from the senior captain.
Coughlan was equally crucial in the offensive production, as she continued to step up her game the longer the match went on. One of her team-high 15 kills gave the Warriors a 23-18 lead in the third set.
“They’re huge. They generate our offense,” Geuss said of the play from Waldeck and Coughlan on both the offensive and defensive sides of the net, as they combined for six blocks. “They’re our leading point scorers all year round; that’s the way we built our offense.”
Down the stretch, the Wolfpack pulled away behind the service and offensive play from Cleary. Cleary tallied seven straight service points, helping the Wolfpack pull away from a 5-5 deadlock to take a 12-5 lead in the fourth set. She also added four late kills, three of which came on partial blocks, as Boston Latin pulled away with a 10-point win to even the series at two games apiece.
The Wolfpack scored six of the first seven points during the decisive fifth game before a back-and-forth streak ultimately faced KP with a 13-7 deficit late in the game.
“It’s unfortunate, but it’s the way it goes,” Geuss said, specifically noting a few unforced errors on KP due to net violations. “I think we played great. They played their hearts out in two in a row when they played very hard. It was good volleyball.”
Following a 16-win regular season, King Philip concludes its season with a 18-5 record.