WORCESTER -- Groton-Dunstable's ascent up the ladder of success is complete.
MIAA D2 volleyball final
The Crusaders have reached the summit of girls high school volleyball in Massachusetts.
Groton-Dunstable captured its first-ever state championship in girls volleyball with a dominant, 3-0, victory over Minnechaug Regional in the MIAA Division 2 state final at Worcester State University on Saturday.
The Crusaders received a stellar effort at the net from middle hitters/blockers Lily Blodgett and Carolyn Mullins, who notched 12 kills each, while sweeping past Minnechaug, 25-19, 25-10, 25-20.
"To win in three was great," said Groton-Dunstable head coach Lori Herberich.
"Minnechaug is a great team. They have all solid players. We studied them. We were hoping the plan we wanted to implement would work. I think it did.
"I really couldn't be prouder of my kids, every single one of them. There aren't always stats for every player, but it took every player today to accomplish this."
Lauren Kenney helped set Groton-Dunstable's high-powered attack in motion with 24 assists, while Peter White paced the defense with 17 digs.
Groton-Dunstable finishes this most magical of seasons with a 22-2 record.
"This means so much for our school and our volleyball program, which has been getting stronger every year," said Herberich. "I'm so proud of the kids. We had awesome parents and awesome fans this year. It's just been great.
Co-captain Lydia Pray had a great match serving, so it was only fitting she registered the winning point in a victory that will always be part of Groton-Dunstable's rich athletic folklore.
"Honestly, I gave it everything I had (on that last serve)," said Pray. "When we won, it was the most awesome feeling. It really feels amazing. I'm so proud to be part of this team.
"We played really well. We had some really great hitters. They all brought it today. We just focused on playing our game and we did it. We're state champs."
In the third set, Minnechaug led 18-15. But the Crusaders played like champions down the stretch, getting strong serving from co-captain Alexis Millett, Blodgett and Pray, while closing out the state crown with a 10-2 run.
"We played our game," said Herberich. "We wanted to keep them thinking where we were going to put the ball. That's what we worked on. And it worked."
In the opening set, Blodgett, Mullins, Pray and Millett set the tone for the match, with their strong play at the net. With the score tied, 15-15, the Crusaders went on a 10-4 closing run to claim a 25-19 victory.
"Our middles have been lights out every match of the playoffs," said Herberich. "They're awesome kids and great players and it worked out for us today to rely on them, hitting and blocking."
Groton-Dunstable carried the play throughout the second set, jumping out to a commanding 18-8 lead en route to winning 25-10 to take a 2-0 lead.
Hannah Wynn did a great job serving throughout the match for Groton-Dunstable. White's back row defense was also key to the victory. Millett tallied 6 digs and 2 kills.
"After the first couple of matches (this season) we just got on a roll," said Herberich. "And we wanted to keep going. We did. We took it one match at a time and this is where we ended up."
Winning a state championship.