DERRY — There was a new team holding the Division I championship plaque and it wore a deep shade of purple.
Nashua South swept Dover 3-0 (25-16, 35-18, 25-21) on Saturday at Pinkerton Academy to pick up the first state title for a Nashua public school since Nashua High split in 2004. Hollis/Brookline had won the last three titles.
The South offense led the way, hitting with a forceful pace that Dover couldn’t defend. The Panthers saved their best for last with an eight-point run to come back from a 21-17 deficit to take the third and final set.
“One of the things that I talked about in the timeout was ‘Listen, play to win. Don’t play to not lose,’” South coach Wayne Siejkowski said. “I think we got a little tentative. I think they thought they were in control and could just hit the ball over rather than use what had gotten them to that point and being aggressive.”
Dover battled to the end of every set, but the South attack was too deep and too versatile to stop.
No one shined brighter than senior Kara Kelliher. The Assumption College-bound star hit a game-high 15 kills and also had five digs.
“I’ve been working with my team for four years now,” Kelliher said. “We’ve been waiting a long time to do this. We just knew we didn’t want to go to four. We wanted to finish as strong as we can.”
Fellow senior Paige Garland and Catherine Covert had eight kills apiece. Senior Cara Lecklider had six kills, three aces and five digs.
“Honestly, if we just trusted each other we know how to put the ball down,” Covert said. “We just swung away.”
The win capped a 21-0 season for the Panthers. South dropped 12 sets all season. The Panthers swept Dover back on Oct. 17.
The Green Wave led within the first 10 points of every set. Dover was led by a seven-kill, three-dig performance from junior Rachel Vitko.
“I know a couple of the players on that side, and they’re gritty players,” Siejkowski said. “There’s no quit in them ever. We knew that’s who they were going in. I told the team we may have to take four swings before we get a point.”
Division II championship: Gilford 3, Coe-Brown 1
As has so often been the case the last two decades, Gilford ended its season as state champs. The Golden Eagles got a competitive match from Coe-Brown Northwood Academy, but the unbeaten side was too much and earned a 3-1 (25-14, 20-25, 25-8, 25-23) win at Pinkerton.
The Golden Eagles controlled the first set and dominated the third. A strong second set from the Bears pushed the match into the fourth, but Gilford finished the fourth set on a 14-6 run to win the set and the title.
Junior Lindsey Sanderson served an ace for the match’s final point. She finished with seven kills for Gilford, and senior Abigail Warren had seven kills and 10 digs.
The championship was Gilford’s 16th overall and second in a row. By contrast, the title game appearance was just Coe-Brown’s second in program history.
Coe-Brown had a strong performance from senior Abby Jerome, who led the Bears with seven kills.