Lincoln takes rematch with SRA

Lincoln takes rematch with SRA

Lincoln junior middle hitter Chris Lezon gets ready to spike the ball over the reach of St. Raphael Academy junior outside hitter Antoine Serena Jr. during last week’s Division III showdown at SRA’s Alumni Hall. Lezon was a force at the net, delivering 12 kills and 12 blocks to help lead the Lions to a 12-25, 25-20, 25-21, 24-26, 15-10 victory that was their 11th in 13 matches. (Breeze photos by Kayla Panu)
Thanks to 3-2 win, Div. III volleyball rivals enter season’s final week tied for first place

PAWTUCKET – It looks like the Lincoln High and St. Raphael Academy boys’ volleyball teams will be going down to the wire for the Division III regular-season championship.

Six days after watching a 2-0 lead evaporate in a disappointing 3-2 loss on its home court to the Saints that snapped an eight-match win streak, the Lions came back last Wednesday, May 15, to topple the Saints in their gym by shaking off a slow start to net an important 3-2 victory.

Both teams entered Tuesday night’s league action with 11-2 records and three matches left in the regular season before the D-III playoffs. The Lions’ match at the Saints’ Alumni Hall kicked off a schedule-ending four-game road trip for them that included Tuesday match at Mount Pleasant and continues with tonight’s 6:30 p.m. match at Burrillville.

In last week’s showdown, the Saints had taken the first set, 25-12, and brought that momentum into the start of the second set, but the Lions found their way back to win, 25-20.

The last three sets were exciting ones, with Lincoln grabbing a 25-21 win in the third, the Saints winning the fourth by a 26-24 score, and the Lions taking the deciding set, 15-10.

“The key to this comeback win was a lot of hustle and a lot of heart,” Lincoln head coach Kyle Medeiros said. “They played strong defense and didn’t let a ball touch the floor, and once they had the momentum, they kept the momentum, which I thought was a big key.”

The third set was close throughout, but after the Saints got a big block to tie the set at 19-19, the Lions came back with the next five points off the service of freshman Damian Terrizzi. But the fourth set was a different story for the Lions, as the Saints, who were down 23-18, came all the way back to take their 26-24 win.

“We got stuck in statistically our worse serve-receive rotation, which we can’t do against a team like St. Ray’s,” Medeiros said. “We have to get more aggressive in that one rotation. I think we gave up four or five in a row to get them back into it. We opened the door for them. We can’t let good teams stay in matches or else.”

Instead of being down and giving in, the Lions started off the fifth set strong with a 5-0 run, and despite the Saints’ comeback attempt, Lincoln never looked back.

“This was huge,” Medeiros said about his club coming back after losing the fourth set. “For them to come back and show that resilience really proved something to me, and I hope they realize how hard that is – to give up the momentum and regain it in a quick set to 15. There’s no time to get down in a set to 15 and they didn’t let it happen.”

The Lions were led by junior middle hitter Chris Lezon, who used his height at the net to finish the match with 12 kills, 12 blocks, and four digs. Medeiros said that out of everyone on his team, Lezon took the previous week’s loss to the Saints the hardest, so he was super motivated for this match and did not want to lose the fifth set.

Senior Demitri Terrizzi, the Lions’ lone senior, also dished out 21 assists. Junior middle hitter Jared Yankee contributed seven blocks and as many kills, and sophomore outside hitter Dylan Balon added eight kills and six digs.

The Lions and the Saints are enjoying similar seasons, as they both had subpar performances last year in Division II – Lincoln went 5-12 and SRA won just once – but have more than made up for it this year in the RIIL’s new nine-team Division III.

“If we meet again in (the Division III) championship, it’s going to be another five-set match,” he said. “(St. Raphael Academy) is a great team.”

LHS sophomore outside hitter Dylan Balon, shown getting ready to serve the ball during last week’s showdown, had a strong all-around match that included eight kills and six digs.