High schools: Holyoke boys volleyball sweeps Athol for 5th straight victory (PHOTOS)

Athol’s Jack Waslaske (21) hits at the net against Holyoke in the first set Friday in Holyoke.

Athol’s Jack Waslaske (21) hits at the net against Holyoke in the first set Friday in Holyoke. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Holyoke’s Adrian Centeno-Feliciano (4) celebrates after registering a kill against Athol in the second set Friday in Holyoke.

Holyoke’s Adrian Centeno-Feliciano (4) celebrates after registering a kill against Athol in the second set Friday in Holyoke. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Holyoke’s Adrian Centeno-Feliciano (4) hits at the net against Athol in the second set Friday in Holyoke.

Holyoke’s Adrian Centeno-Feliciano (4) hits at the net against Athol in the second set Friday in Holyoke. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Athol’s Colin Mason (11) passes against Holyoke in the second set Friday in Holyoke.

Athol’s Colin Mason (11) passes against Holyoke in the second set Friday in Holyoke. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Holyoke’s Xavier Matos (7) serves against Athol in the second set Friday in Holyoke.

Holyoke’s Xavier Matos (7) serves against Athol in the second set Friday in Holyoke. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Holyoke’s Michael Melendez (16) sets the ball against Athol in the second set Friday in Holyoke.

Holyoke’s Michael Melendez (16) sets the ball against Athol in the second set Friday in Holyoke. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Athol’s Landon Collins (6), right, passes against Holyoke in the second set Friday in Holyoke.

Athol’s Landon Collins (6), right, passes against Holyoke in the second set Friday in Holyoke. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Athol’s Logan McGrath serves against Holyoke in the second set Friday in Holyoke.

Athol’s Logan McGrath serves against Holyoke in the second set Friday in Holyoke. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Athol’s Colin Mason (11) tips the ball at the net over Holyoke’s YandielRiveraTroche (8) in the second set Friday in Holyoke.

Athol’s Colin Mason (11) tips the ball at the net over Holyoke’s YandielRiveraTroche (8) in the second set Friday in Holyoke. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Holyoke’s Adrian Centeno-Feliciano (4) serves the ball in the second set against Athol on Friday in Holyoke.

Holyoke’s Adrian Centeno-Feliciano (4) serves the ball in the second set against Athol on Friday in Holyoke. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Holyoke’s Adrian Centeno-Feliciano (4) hits at the net in the second set against Athol on Friday in Holyoke.

Holyoke’s Adrian Centeno-Feliciano (4) hits at the net in the second set against Athol on Friday in Holyoke. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Holyoke’s Adrian Centeno-Feliciano (4) sets the ball in the first set against Athol on Friday in Holyoke.

Holyoke’s Adrian Centeno-Feliciano (4) sets the ball in the first set against Athol on Friday in Holyoke. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Holyoke’s Michael Melendez (16) gets a kill past Athol blockers Ethan Goodwin (16) and Warren Taylor (9) in the second set Friday in Holyoke.

Holyoke’s Michael Melendez (16) gets a kill past Athol blockers Ethan Goodwin (16) and Warren Taylor (9) in the second set Friday in Holyoke. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Athol’s Colin Mason (11) serves against Holyoke in the second set Friday in Holyoke.

Athol’s Colin Mason (11) serves against Holyoke in the second set Friday in Holyoke. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Athol’s Ethan Goodwin (16) registers a kill over Holyoke’s Adrian Centeno-Feliciano (4) in the second set Friday in Holyoke.

Athol’s Ethan Goodwin (16) registers a kill over Holyoke’s Adrian Centeno-Feliciano (4) in the second set Friday in Holyoke. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Holyoke’s Gedeon Ortiz-Torres (15) tips the ball in the second set against Athol on Friday in Holyoke.

Holyoke’s Gedeon Ortiz-Torres (15) tips the ball in the second set against Athol on Friday in Holyoke. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Athol players celebrate a point against Holyoke in the third set Friday in Holyoke.

Athol players celebrate a point against Holyoke in the third set Friday in Holyoke. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Holyoke’s Adrian Centeno-Feliciano (4), left, blocks a shot against Athol with Carlos Silva (5) in the third set Friday in Holyoke.

Holyoke’s Adrian Centeno-Feliciano (4), left, blocks a shot against Athol with Carlos Silva (5) in the third set Friday in Holyoke. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Holyoke’s Gedeon Ortiz-Torres (15) registers a kill against Athol in the first set Friday in Holyoke.

Holyoke’s Gedeon Ortiz-Torres (15) registers a kill against Athol in the first set Friday in Holyoke. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Holyoke’s Michael Melendez (16) sets the ball against Athol in the first set Friday in Holyoke.

Holyoke’s Michael Melendez (16) sets the ball against Athol in the first set Friday in Holyoke. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Holyoke’s Gedeon Ortiz-Torres (15) serves against Athol in the first set Friday in Holyoke.

Holyoke’s Gedeon Ortiz-Torres (15) serves against Athol in the first set Friday in Holyoke. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Holyoke’s Michael Melendez (16) sets the ball up for Adrian Centeno-Feliciano (4) in the first set against Athol on Friday in Holyoke.

Holyoke’s Michael Melendez (16) sets the ball up for Adrian Centeno-Feliciano (4) in the first set against Athol on Friday in Holyoke. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Athol’s Ethan Goodwin (16) tips the ball against Holyoke’s Adrian Centeno-Feliciano (4) in the first set Friday in Holyoke.

Athol’s Ethan Goodwin (16) tips the ball against Holyoke’s Adrian Centeno-Feliciano (4) in the first set Friday in Holyoke. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Athol’s Colin Mason (11) battles at the net against Holyoke’s YandielRiveraTroche (8) in the first set Friday in Holyoke.

Athol’s Colin Mason (11) battles at the net against Holyoke’s YandielRiveraTroche (8) in the first set Friday in Holyoke. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Holyoke’s Alexx Dumas (2) serves the ball in the first set against Athol on Friday in Holyoke.

Holyoke’s Alexx Dumas (2) serves the ball in the first set against Athol on Friday in Holyoke. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

By GARRETT COTE

Staff Writer

Published: 04-12-2024 9:05 PM

HOLYOKE — Already down two sets to none against Holyoke, the Athol boys volleyball team was in a do-or-die situation late in the third set. With the frame tied at nine apiece, the Bears used a 7-2 run to storm ahead 16-11 and capture all momentum inside John “Jinx” O’Connor Gymnasium.

But the Purple Knights, winners of four in a row entering Friday’s contest, were determined to keep their streak alive.

Behind the serving prowess of senior Adrian Centeno-Feliciano, Holyoke re-captured the lead at 17-16, and never gave it up the rest of the way en route to a three-set sweep – its third consecutive win of that variety – over Athol.

Set scores were 25-17, 25-17, 25-19 in favor of the Purple Knights.

“We still want them to get to a higher level, but overall they played well,” Holyoke assistant coach Josh Abrams said. “We got some timely serves and hits when we needed it, and we limited our unforced errors, so we’ll take it.”

The go-ahead stretch from Athol in the third was the second big run of the match it embarked on, with the other coming early on in the first. Trailing 11-2 in a blink, the Bears were buoyed by the strong play of their captains – Ray Castine, Caleb Leblanc and Colin Mason – to help them on a 9-0 spurt and tie the set at 11.

While they showed the clear capability of playing at a high level with several long rallies and big swings on the outside, they just couldn’t consistently sustain it throughout.

That’s been the issue during Athol’s five-game skid to start the season.

Article continues after...

Yesterday's Most Read Articles

Hadley’s Hampshire Mall faces foreclosure
GOP silences McGovern over Trump remarks
Looming rent hikes worry artists at Cottage Street Studios in Easthampton
Balise finds temporary home for Subaru dealership in Hadley
Officials sorting out disarray at Leverett Elementary School
Guest columnist Larry Hott: ‘Daughter of Cummington’ brings stories to the stage

“I thought we played together today, which is not how we started off the first five games,” Bears head coach Nathan Fisher said. “The more we do that, the more successful we’ll be. The runs that we had today was because we stuck together. That to us is a huge plus moving forward.”

Holyoke’s ferocious serving certainly didn’t help Athol, either. Centeno-Feliciano and Gedeon Ortiz went on several long service runs, including an important one from Ortiz late in the third set to pull the Purple Knights away for good.

The overall strength of Holyoke and its serving kept the Bears on their heels to disrupt their offensive rhythm just enough on Friday – in turn helping out its own attack.

“We definitely have some strong servers,” Abrams said. “Adrian and Gedeon had some good ones that made their passing challenging, and it’s always good to get a free ball out of it or move into our offense off of that.”

Centeno-Feliciano brought his do-it-all kit to Friday’s contest. Whether it was serving, putting down electric kills, blocking shots at the net or even dishing out assists, the senior did whatever his team needed – and his versatility was on full display.

Now in his fourth year with the program, Centeno-Feliciano is starting to put it all together for this Holyoke group.

“He’s a senior, and it’s been good to see him develop over the years,” Abrams said. “He’s developed into more of a leader and is playing more like an impact player at the net or with his serve. He’s improved every year and hopefully he can keep it going.”

On the flip side, when Athol did string together good offensive possessions and forced Holyoke to send over free balls, the Bears fell victim to a handful of miscommunication errors – leading to the ball dropping in between a host of red jerseys.

Although that aspect is something Fisher said has improved, it still isn’t where it needs to be.

“Communication is something we’ve struggled with, letting balls fall without calling for it,” Fisher said. “Those are the things that we really have to work on. Today was better, but it’s still a work in progress.”

Athol (0-5) hits the road on Tuesday for a match with Pioneer Valley Christian Academy at 5:15 p.m. looking to get in the win column for the first time.

Holyoke (5-1) hopes to make it six straight victories when it travels to Ware. That match is slated for 6:15 p.m. on Tuesday.

“We’re happy with the wins and the record, but we wanna keep seeing them improve,” Abrams said. “We have two tough opponents next week, so it’ll be interesting to see if we’re ready for them and if we can play to our highest level.”

Granby 3, Commerce 0 — More strong outings from Jake Gagnon and Michael Swanigan propelled the Rams to a sweep over Commerce on Friday. Set scores were 25-23, 25-15, 25-16.

Gagnon tallied 11 kills, five aces and 12 assists while Swanigan put down 11 kills and added five dimes. Braedan Gallagher dished out 10 assists to go along with his four kills, and Nathan Walsh added three aces in Granby’s win.

Girls ultimate

Amherst 7, Four Rivers 4 — Despite some soggy, windy conditions, the Hurricanes balanced attack —  led by the steady disc handling of Phoebe Young, Addie Mager and Isla Cusick and the solid receiving of Eliza Zimmerman and Myla Peltier — kept Four Rivers on the run.

The entire team contributed to a 7-4 victory, bringing Amherst’s record to 5-2 on the season. 

Late Thursday results

Boys lacrosse

Lenox 15, Belchertown 5 — A slow first half plagued the Orioles on Thursday evening, as they were outscored 8-1 over the first 24 minutes and couldn’t dig themselves out of the early hole.

Nico St. George scored twice and added two assists, while Landon Andre, Adam O’Rourke and Charles Fijal tallied scores as well. Rylan Queiros added an assist for Belchertown in the loss.

 Boys volleyball

Agawam 3, Belchertown 0 — The Orioles were outmatched by a strong Lions team on Thursday, as they fell in a straight-set sweep to drop to 0-4 thus far this spring.

Set scores were 25-15, 25-8, 25-17.

Belchertown’s Noah Yankson and Shea MacLean put down eight kills apiece while Zach Dragon added four, and Rainer Kristensen dished out 19 assists.