CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. - Less than a week removed from a 3-0 loss to the Gators on Senior Day, the Newbury Nighthawks avenged that defeat in convincing fashion with a pair of 3-0 wins on a doubleheader Thursday night at Brunelli Court.
Match One: Newbury 3 - Pine Manor 0
Nighthawks junior Joshua Thorne (Oxford, Conn.) was a force all over the court, finishing with 14 kills, nine digs, six assists, and two aces, leading the Nighthawks to a straight sets (25-17, 25-19, 25-21) victory over the Pine Manor Gators in the first match of a doubleheader on Thursday evening at Brunelli Court.
Thorne finished with a match-high .419 hitting percentage, recording his 14 kills on 31 attempts with one error. Freshman Matt Sepe (Cranston, R.I.) added six kills and five digs, while senior Nile Fox (Hampton, Va.) finished with five kills. Freshman Oscar Chavez (Independence, Ore.) contributed 24 assists and eight digs.
Gators freshman Dion Johnson (Las Vegas, Nev.) finished with a team-high 12 kills on 27 attempts. Freshman Josh Williams (Hartford, Conn.) added eight kills and five digs. Freshman Derick Speight (Clinton, Md.) added a career-high 15 digs.
In the opening set, the Nighthawks were in front quickly with two Chavez aces, two Fox kills, and a Thorne kill, for a 6-1 lead. The Gators closed the gap briefly, but a 6-0 scoring run for the Nighthawks, including a pair of aces by junior Angel Canales (Lynn, Mass.), put them firmly in front, 22-13. A pair of Gators errors would finish off the set 25-19.
In set two, the Nighthawks momentum spilled over from the first set, starting set two ahead 11-3. Again, the Gators responded quickly, going on a 9-4 run to close to 15-12. The Nighthawks answered with seven of eight points, including Thorne's two aces, for a 22-13 lead. Another series of Gators errors would end the set, 25-21.
In the third set, the Nighthawks again held a safe lead for the majority of the set, looking as if the sweep was a sure thing, leading 21-14. The Gators wouldn't go quietly, winning six of seven points, including three kills by Johnson, cutting the deficit to 22-20. Thorne came through with his final two kills and another gators error on match point gave the Nighthawks the 25-21 set.
Match Two: Newbury 3 - Pine Manor 0
The Nighthawks trio of Sepe, Thorne, and Fox all finished with double-digit kills, the first time this season three different Nighthawks have finished in double-digits, as the Nighthawks completed another straight sets sweep (26-24, 25-16, 25-23) of the Pine Manor Gators in the second match of the doubleheader.
Sepe finished with a career-high 14 kills and added seven digs. Thorne also finished with 14 kills, hitting .312 on 32 attempts. His three aces were a match-high. Fox came through with 10 kills on 22 attempts. Thorne and Fox also finished with a team-high nine digs. Chavez finished with 38 assists on 41 Nighthawks kills.
Johnson finished with a team-high seven kills, with a hitting percentage of a match-best .400. Speight added six kills, as did freshman Edward Cromwell (Las Vegas, Nev.). Cromwell also added a career-high 13 digs. Williams finished with five kills and four total blocks.
The opening set was a back-and-forth battle between the Gators and Nighthawks with no team leading by more than four. The Gators broke into a small run late, leading 24-22, on the verge of a first set win. A Sepe kill defended one set point and an error by the Gators tied the set at 24-24. A kill by freshman Tyler Polite (Hyde Park, Mass.) gave the Nighthawks a chance for a comeback set win and Thorne finished his opportunity, giving the Nighthawks a 26-24 win.
In the second, the Gators and Nighthawks battled for early momentum to a 10-10 draw. An 11-3 Nighthawks scoring run, including five kills by Sepe, Thorne, and Fox, gave the Nighthawks a comfortable 21-13 lead. The Gators would bounce back for three straight, but the Nighthawks closed the door with the next four, winning the set 25-16.
In the final set, the Sepe, Thorne, and Fox trio stayed hot, leading the Nighthawks out to a 15-8 lead. A number of Nighthawks errors and kills from Johnson helped the Gators cut into the deficit, and a 5-0 run would put the Gators ahead 19-17. Following a Nighthawks timeout, the team responded with four straight to lead 21-19. The teams traded points to a 23-23 tie, but a Fox kill and Chavez ace closed the final set for the Nighthawks, 25-23.
The Nighthawks have won three straight matches and are battling for playoff position with one game to go. The Nighthawks travel to Elms College on Saturday to wrap up their season at 1:00 p.m. The Nighthawks currently trail Eastern Nazarene by a 1/2 game and, depending on tiebreakers, the Nighthawks will either host or travel to Eastern Nazarene for the NECC Quarterfinals.