The No. 1-seeded Loomis Chaffee volleyball team defeated No. 8 Choate 3-0 in the first round of the New England Prep School Athletic Conference Class A Championship Tournament on Wednesday, November 17, advancing to the semifinals for the fourth straight year.
In the friendly confines of the Olcott Center, fans packed in to see a spirited match between two teams that had faced off twice during the regular season.
In the first set, Choate built a 5-1 lead in the set, but the Pelicans fought back and tied the game at eight. They took their first lead of the game behind strong serving from senior Masha Sidorova, who recorded three aces during a five-point run.
Choate battled back to tie the set again at 13, but kills by junior captain Syd Hanley and Sidorova, coupled with a block by senior Em Collins, gave the Pelicans a 18-13 lead. Loomis then held off a late charge from Choate and took the first set 25-20.
The second set was all Loomis early, as a strong serving run by senior captain Sophia Testa and blocking by Em Collins helped the Pelicans build a 6-0 lead. The home team extended the lead to 10-3 and then 14-5, with senior Carys Baker chipping in with strong kills. Senior Lexie Mae Hydrick then went on a serving run, including two aces, that sealed the set for the Pelicans 25-12.
In the third set head coach Jeff Dyreson made an error in submitting the lineup, and Loomis players were put into positions to which they were not accustomed. The mixup also led to confused rotations and substitutions. Because of the lineup error, Choate was awarded two points to start the set, and the momentum shifted toward the Wild Boars.
Loomis trailed Choate 0-4, 1-5, 3-8, and 7-11 before Loomis settled into a rotation and the Pelicans started to make plays. Baker came up with an important kill during a long point, Collins got a block immediately afterward, and Sidorova recorded two more kills to ignite the crowd and bring back the Pelicans’ momentum.
The teams traded points until the game was tied at 16. A big block from senior Willa Hock opened up a gap for the Pelicans, who built a small lead at 19-16.
The Wild Boars refused to quit, though, and their best server caused problems for Loomis. Choate took a 22-20 lead. But clutch plays from Hanley and Sidorova allowed the Pelicans to surge to a 25-22 victory, taking the match 3-0.
“I want to thank the tremendous turnout of community members who came to support the team,” Jeff said after the match. “It creates a special environment to play in, and we are fortunate to have the home-court advantage.”
Loomis will host its semifinal match against No. 4 Phillips Exeter on Saturday, November 20. The time of the match has not been determined yet.