Andover Suffers Two Losses To Break Unbeaten Streak

Andover struggled this past week, falling to league rivals Choate and Wilbraham-Monson. The two losses put Andover in second going into the Final Four tournament on Saturday where they will face Choate in the first round. Andover fought hard against Wilbraham-Monson at the start of the first set, finally gaining the lead at 10-8. Though Wilbraham-Monson tied the score again at 15, Andover was able to secure the win by a comfortable six-point margin with impressive serve receive by Captain Stevie Xenakis ’10. Wilbraham-Monson secured the win in the second set, jumping out to a commanding lead of 20-10 as a result of their impressive offense and Andover’s service errors. Andover regained its stride in the third set as Peter Yang ’10, who recently returned from an ankle injury, helped Andover get an early lead with an eight-point serving run. Andover and Wilbraham-Monson battled back-and-forth throughout the fourth set with impressive defense from both teams. Andover tied the score at five points in the match, but with the score tied at 21, Wilbraham-Monson pulled ahead and closed out the win. In the tiebreaking 5th set, the lead flipped between the two teams, but Wilbraham-Monson eventually pulled ahead with the score tied at eight, and took the match. Xenakis led Andover’s defense with 32 digs on serve receive. Andover middles Paul Bloemsma ’10 and DJ Dlesk ’10 combined for a total of 24 kills and 19 blocks. Andover fell to Choate last Saturday due to a combination of inconsistent serving and miscommunication on the court. Andover and Choate fought point for point at the start of the first set. With the score tied at seven, Choate pulled ahead with the lead and took the set 25-20. Choate’s momentum carried over into the second set, as the team jumped ahead to a 11-2 lead. Choate continued to dominate, extending its lead to 20-13 as Andover struggled with miscommunication in the backcourt and poor passing. With the score at 23-29, DJ Dlesk ’10 stepped up to the service line and fired off six service points to bring Andover back into the game. Andrew Khang ’10 finished the set at the service line, and Andover took the set by a slim margin, 28-26. Choate took complete control of the third set, pulling ahead 11-2 to start the set. Choate held its lead throughout, leaving Andover trailing by as many as seven points at times. Choate’s momentum carried into the fourth set, and the team went ahead 15-10. Andover fought back, tying the game at 18-18. However, Andover could not hold off Choate’s kills and serves, and Choate took the set 25-21. Heading into the tournament, Coach Clyfe Beckwith said, “the challenge will be how they will play as a team. Individually they can all do well, but how they play next to each other will decide whether or not they can win. We need to come out of the starting blocks running, not waiting to react and see what will happen.” Andover, ranked second faces number three Choate on Saturday.