the no. 9 Redhawks (10-4) cool Needham (15-0) all it could handle. The first set featured 12 ties. In the second, Natick was awarded a point when Needham had two delays of game on the same service. And in a the tense third, the Rockets were inches from allowing a set point.
“I’m glad the way we responded,” Needham coach Dave Powell said. “It makes them special. Lots of years of growth and you have to be reflective even in victory.”
Senior Ben Putnam started the game off with a thunderous kill on the first play, and the Ohio State commit finished with 27 of the Rockets’ 48 kills.
“Those big, loud kills are exciting,” he said. “That was a good way to get this team amped up.”
The teams were knotted at 22 in the first set, but Needham won the next three points to close it out.
The second set had the home crowd roaring as Powell protested a red card, but the Rockets prevailed in a back-and-forth match with six times the score stood even.
Natick took its largest lead early in the third set — 9-4 on the scoreboard. The Redhawks also held leads of 16-12 and 19-15, but Needham had the experience closing out sets against top teams.
“We just try to do the simple things, do them well,” Powell said “I didn’t love the way we started that set but I was proud of the way we finished that set.”
Neither team had won more than four points in a row before the third set, but Needham had streaks of five and six, and Natick had a run of six as well.
“The timing and the team energy, that brings the team [to be] a lot better and it works well for me,” said junior Ethan McCarron, who registered 11 kills.
At 23-all, Natick spiked the ball off junior Raymond Weng, and Yang made the play to keep it in. Putnam then dove and tipped it over the net. The Redhawks were unable to make a return.
“That was great,” Yang said. “It honestly wasn’t a really good pass by me. I reacted right. I didn’t think Ben was going to get it, it was so far away, but he got it.”
Senior Kendall Jackson (12 kills) paced the Redhawks, who were undone by 40 errors (6 serving, 12 attacking, and 22 volleying).
“We played very well during every set, but in [the] end, we [made] mistakes,” Natick coach Peter Suxho said. “I was very happy with the performance, the desire they’re showing. [But] it was our mistakes, we punished ourselves. It’s not easy with freshmen and sophomores against Needham.”
Suxho credited Needham for its depth, and the quality of the program.
Putnam pointed to the squad’s chemistry.
“As a team, we’re really tight-knit, we play a lot of volleyball outside of the season and I think we’re kind of a family,” he said. “When the season starts, we’ve all seen each other all year and we’re ready to play and the streak shows that.”
Billerica 12, Central Catholic 7 — Senior John Caserta produced four goals and an assist, sophomore Aidan Gibbons had three tallies and a helper, and senior Conor Doherty and junior Chris Hunt had two goals each for the No. 13 Indians (12-2) in the Merrimack Valley Conference win. Coach Ryan Nickerson saluted senior Cole Longuemare for his stellar play all over the field.
BC High 10, St John’s (Shrewsbury) 9 — Patrick Maroney notched three goals for the Eagles (10-4) in the Catholic Conference win. Will Emsing was the other multi-goal scorer for BC High with two.
North Quincy 10, Plymouth North 4 — Senior Joe Manton (four goals, four assists) led the Red Raiders (5-10) to their first Patriot League win of the season. Classmate Michael Gorman added three goals and an assist.
St John’s Prep 18, Catholic Memorial 5 — Will Sawyer (4 goals) and Jimmy Ayers (3 goals, 2 assists) paced the offense and Nolan Philpott, Connor Kelly, and Deuce Morton were stalwarts defensively for the top-ranked Eagles (13-1) in the Catholic Conference win.
Scene 10, Marshfield 6 — The Sailors (12-3) stormed back, after trailing by one goal entering the fourth quarter, with James Sullivan (five goals) leading the charge for the Patriot League win.
Cardinal Spellman 11, Saint Joseph Prep 8 — Joy Sayah (13 saves) surpassed 300 career saves and Kathryn Lykso (3 goals), Elle Murphy (4 goals), and Erin O’Donnell (2 goals, 2 assists) powered the Cardinals (4-12) to their third straight win .
Hingham 17, Quincy 1 — Shea Berigan, Grace Maroney and Maddie Packard each had two goals apiece to push the Harbormen (10-3) past the Presidents (8-7) for the Patriot League win.
Pembroke 18, Plymouth South 7 — Senior Megan Dorsey scored six goals, pacing the Titans (4-8) to a Patriot League Fisher Division win.
Plymouth North 13, North Quincy 6 — Annika Pyy (6 goals, 4 assists), Ava Whiting (5 goals, 1 assist) and Addie Pyy (2 goals, 6 assists) powered the Blue Eagles (11-3) past the Raiders (6-9) for the Patriot League win.
Weymouth 16, Braintree 13 — Molly Higgins netted a pair of pivotal goals, Cam Flaherty netted her 100th career goal, and Megan Doyle reached 300 career draw controls for the Wildcats (10-5) in the Bay State Conference win.
Plymouth North 5, Sandwich 0 — Robby Cooney won 6-2, 6-0 in first singles to pace the Eagles (6-3) to a win against the Blue Knights.
Fairhaven 3, Case 0 — Kaydin Pinto won 6-0, 6-0 at first singles to lead the Blue Devils (14-2) to a South Coast victory.
North Andover 4, Bedford 1 — Skyler Holland won 6-3, 6-4 at third singles to pace the Scarlet Knights (8-5) to the nonleague win.
Oliver Ames 4, North Attleborough 1 — Freshman Hannah Farber rallied from a 1-6 deficit in the second set to pull out a 1-6, 7-6 (7-2), 1-0 (13-11) win at first singles for the Tigers (11-3 ) in the Hockomock League win.
Wakefield 3, Burlington 2 — Junior Emma Fitzgerald won 6-1, 6-0 at third singles, helping power the Warriors (7-8) to the program’s first win over Burlington in 15 years.
Watertown 4, Stoneham 1 — Senior captain Eva Kelleher (4-6, 0-6) won first singles, Mairead Connally (6-8, 6-8) won second singles and Catherine Fabian and Jenna Johnson (6-7, 6-3, 6-1) won second doubles to secure the win for the Raiders (6-8).
Sarah Barber, Cam Kerry, Vitoria Poejo, Joe Pohoryles, and Alex Walulik contributed to this story. To report scores, call 617-929-2860/3235 or email email@example.com. Tweet scores @GlobeSchools.
AJ Traub can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.