It certainly wasn't easy.
No. 1 seed Haverhill had all it could handle with the No. 12 seed Golden Warriors, winning 15-13 in the deciding fifth game to bring the Hillies to the Division 1 North section final game next week.
After losing the first game of the match 25-19 — just the third time the Hillies have been down 0-1 in a match all season — senior co-captain Brett Pettis, who led the Hillies with 13 kills, said the Golden Warriors simply came out with more intensity.
"They were more ready," he said. "That's a simple way to put it."
The Hillies responded, winning the second and third games 25-19 and 25-17, respectively. Going into the fourth game, up 2-1, the Hillies had seemingly stolen the momentum away from the fast-starting Andover squad.
"Volleyball is very much a game of momentum," said Hillies head coach Bill Kaste. "And when you get it, you run with it."
But the Golden Warriors responded, jumping out to an 11-2 early lead and winning the fourth game easily, 25-15, setting up a fifth game for the just the fourth time this year for the Haverhill squad.
Pettis said the team just needed to focus on its strengths going into the final game.
"If you think about 'game five', you think more," he said. "If you don't, you relax. The emphasis of each point decreases, and you're less worried. We just had to keep our cool."
Up 14-13 in the fifth, junior setter Zach Sindoni, who led the Hillies with 32 assists, lofted a beautiful set to the waiting Pettis, who slammed it into a double-block scheme that had troubled the outside hitter all night. The spike was blocked out of bounds, though, giving the Hillies a chance at the title.
"I knew it was a good set, and I saw him," Sindoni said of Pettis. "I was like, 'just hit the ball,' and he crushed it. He crushed it. It was awesome."
The Hillies will face the winner of the Central Catholic and Lawrence match for the section championship next week.
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