Jun. 29—WESTFORD — Andover and boys volleyball are synonymous with sectional finals.
North Andover, the town on the other side, not so much. In fact, well, never when it came to the boys.
Not until Monday afternoon in Westford, when the upstart North Andover High boys volleyball team lost to host Westford Academy, 3-0, ending their Cinderella season.
Westford, 14-2, won by scores of 25-20, 25-17 and 25-22 to advance to the state semifinals.
But the real story, at least for this “Andover” team was the Scarlet Knights program, only five years old and coming off a two-win season in 2019.
The program had only 12 wins, in total, entering the 2021 season.
In this COVID-19 shortened season, the North Andover boys won 11 matches versus five defeats.
“I am so proud of this group, especially the seniors, for all that they’ve been through and then coming into this year ready to play,” said North Andover first-year coach Mike Scammon. “They showed a lot about hard work and dedication. These guys were great role models for this program going forward.”
Ironically, Westford Academy’s recent best season was in 2016 when North Andover was in its maiden season. Westford got to the state semifinals before bowing out.
Against the Knights they looked every bit as good as any team in the state.
North Andover led in only game, the first, 12-11. The rest of the time it was hanging on for dear life.
“Pretty impressive for being a young program,” said first-year Westford Academy boys coach Brandon Eang, who had coached the girls program at Westford for seven years. “North Andover had some very good hitters. I think the difference was blocking. We were outstanding in our blocking. And they made probably more mistakes. But they’re tough. It’s nice to see a new program on the rise in volleyball.”
North Andover had runs near the end of all three games, including the last, getting to within one point at 23-22, but eventually ran out of gas.
The two best players on the court were a pair of outside hitters, Westford’s Fabian Arnold, who will attend college in Munich, Germany in September — his parents are both natives of Germany — and North Andover’s Liam Ross.
Arnold, at 6-foot-8, was tough to handle in both blocking and kills. He was also probably the most animated player on the court.
Ross was nearly his equal. The former football player turned body-builder and volleyball star at 6-foot-3 was a “kill” machine for the Knights.
“They were tough, really tough,” said Ross. “We just allowed too many runs. It was hard to keep up with them. But we gave them all we could handle. Honestly, we played well. They were just a better team.”
North Andover’s Andrew Jones, a junior, was a key guy in the middle for the Scarlet Knights. Fellow junior Andrew Matsouranis also was a force blocking, also doing damage at the net on offense.
“This is the beginning and these seniors set the tone for the program,” said Coach Scammon. “Westford was everything we’d thought they would be. A good, solid volleyball team.”
Westford Academy 3, North Andover 0
North Sectional Final
Kills: Clay Ursu 10, Liam Ross 9, Andrew Matzouranis 7
Blocks: Matzourainis 2
Assists: Jacob Colon 30
Digs: Andrew Jones 16
North Andover (11-5): 20 17 22 — 0
Westford Academy (14-2): 25 25 25 — 3