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June 2, 2011

Hillies crowned Div. 1 North champions

After a 17-1 regular season, and section victories over Chelmsford and Andover, the Hillies were crowned the Div. 1 North champions Thursday night at Central Catholic, defeating Lawrence three games to one.

Haverhill got off to a hot start, winning the first game easily, 25-15, behind strong defense from junior co-captain Drew Caruso and sophomore Tom Oliveira, who combined for ten blocks in the match.

Lawrence, which had lost twice to Haverhill during the regular season, responded in the second game, winning 25-20, creating a game three that would give the team that won it a great opportunity to take home the title.

"That puts a lot of pressure on," said Hillies head coach Bill Kaste about game three.

Tied 6-6, the Lancers went on a 7-3 run to put the score at 13-9 midway through the third. Haverhill then went on a run of their own, winning five of the next seven points to bring the score to within one, 15-14. Down 23-21, Caruso served two aces to tie it at 23.

After losing serve, junior setter Zach Sindoni, who has developed a terrific disguise pass, dipped what would usually be a long set to Pettis or James Murray on the outside just over the net, in between the outstretched arms of three Lancers defenders to give Haverhill a 25-24 lead.

"He disguises really well," Kaste said of Sindoni. "He's learning all the time, and that's something he's really gotten good at. When he runs it right, it's almost impossible to stop."

In game four, tied 10-10, Haverhill took control, going on an 8-3 run to take an 18-13 lead. Oliveira, who has said blocking is his "speciality" had two huge blocks during the game, shifting the momentum in Haverhill's direction for good. The Hillies took game four 25-20 to win their first Div. 1 North championship.

The Hillies will face Newton North, the Div. 1 South winner, next week.

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