WORCESTER — Just get the ball to Taylor Harris.
That was the lone thought going through Canton head coach Pat Cawley’s mind when her Bulldogs were just one point away from clinching Saturday’s Div. 2 state final against Danvers at Worcester State University.
Jackie Morrissey delivered. She got the ball to Canton’s senior captain.
Harris followed through, slamming the ball over the net and into the ground with a championship-winning kill as the Bulldogs (22-3) conquered the Div. 2 state final with a thrilling 3-2 (25-22, 20-25, 25-23, 16-25, 15-13) victory.
“I believed in these girls,” Cawley said. “They have a chemistry that is incomparable. They really care about each other.”
Canton’s chemistry shined after losing the fourth set when the Falcons tied the match at 2-all.
The Bulldogs found a new vengeance in the fifth set. Harris recorded three kills to put Canton ahead, 4-2. After a Carly Goodhue kill gave Danvers their last lead at 10-9, Liz Bickett and Claire Quinn collected two kills during a 4-1 run for a 13-11 lead. Maddie Montanari scored Danvers’ last point of the season to get the Falcons within one before Harris’ winning-kill.
“Her first swing in the fifth set I said, ‘She’s back. I don’t know what happened but she’s back,’” Cawley said on Harris. “The whole confidence of the team rises when they see that.”
Harris finished with a monstrous 29-kill, four-ace performance after leading Canton in its state semifinal win over Minnechaug with 24 kills and 14 digs.
“We went back into the huddle and said that it’s a new game,” Harris said on the Bulldogs’ confidence after dropping the fourth set. “We believed in ourselves.”
Danvers (25-1) had 11-6 and 15-10 leads in the third set. Liz Bickett and Shannon Malloy, though, scored the set’s last three points to win it, 25-23, for a Canton 2-1 advantage.
“We’ve played from behind, we’ve played from ahead,” Cawley said. “I kept reminding them that this was what we’ve done all year.”
Canton got the ball to Taylor Harris and are champions for the first time in program history.