Newfound's Ashlee Dukette(17) battles Emma Wheeler(9) of Interlakes during their NHIAA Division III semifinal match Wednesday evening at Plymouth Regional High School. (R C Greenwood/ for The Laconia Daily Sun)
By ROGER AMSDEN, LACONIA DAILY SUN
PLYMOUTH — Undefeated Inter-Lakes (18-0) faces second-ranked Winnisquam (17-1) at Plymouth State in the Division III championship game tonight at 7 p.m.
Both teams punched their tickets to the title game Wednesday night in Plymouth as Winnisquam defeated No. 3 Campbell, 3-0 and the Lakers topped fifth ranked Newfound 3-1.
The Lakers are in the finals for the first time since losing to Gilford in 2004. Meanwhile, Winnisquam returns to a familiar place. The Bears won it all in 2010 and 2012, and have been to the championship match five times in the last eight years.
The championship will be a rematch of Winnisquam’s regular-season finale, when it lost to Inter-Lakes in four sets in Tilton.
Winnisquam got the night started with a sweep over Campbell, but the match played out more like a five-set thriller.
The Bears won the first set easily, 25-15, but the final two required the championship pedigree that an experienced team like Winnisquam possesses.
Both the second and third sets saw Winnisquam and Campbell deadlocked at 21-all before Winnisquam finished off both games. In the second set, kills from Allison Foster and Isabelle gave the Bears a 23-21 lead, and Foster’s block for the final point gave Winnisquam a 25-22 win.
The third set played out in similar fashion. Winnisquam pulled ahead, 23-21, on a kill from Talia DeBlasie (27 assists, eight digs) and a Campbell hitting error before ending things on a kill from Isabelle that was deflected out of play.
The second match of the night saw the Lakers, who had beaten Newfound twice during the regular season, drop the opening set, 26-24.
Inter-Lakes didn’t lose another set on the night despite Ashlee Dukette (team-high 14 kills) and Newfound’s best effort.
The Lakers blitzed Newfound in the second set, 25-14, and repeated the process again in the third, 25-17.
Newfound took the Lakers to the brink in the fourth set, but this time it couldn’t finish the job. Tied at 24-all, Inter-Lakes grabbed the lead on a kill from Hailey Hart before ending Newfound’s season, 26-24.
Leading the way for the Lakers was sophomore Emma Wheeler, who registered 16 kills, 14 service points and 4 blocks in a great all-around performance. Jessalyn Brown had a career high 38 assists to go with 10 service points and 11 digs. Senior co-captain Jordan Durand knocked down 12 kills and added 9 digs and 6 service points. Other key contributions came from Madisyn Wilson (8 points, 2 aces), Morgan White (9 kills, 7 points)and Hailey Hart (8 points, 6 kills).