Quincy pulls off thrilling comeback over Duxbury for perfect season, Patriot Cup title

KINGSTON — Sometimes when your back is against the wall, you have to get creative to get things going, even when it seems that all hope is lost.

For the rest of their lives, however, the members of the 2020 Quincy volleyball squad will be able to look back and remember that they battled back from the brink. Down to their final breaths in the third set, the Presidents pulled off the improbable, rallying for a miraculous 3-2 comeback over Duxbury to complete the perfect season, while taking home the Patriot Cup title Friday night.

“We’ve had games where we’ve come back and won, down 0-2,” said Quincy coach Jaqui Niosi. “But I don’t think (we’ve done so) with the game as close as it was in the third game. The mental toughness they showed, the adjustments we made, the aggressiveness on defense (it’s incredible) … Duxbury is a fantastic team, they can hit the ball, they can serve tough. I’m just happy for our kids.”

Quincy (13-0) was led once again by junior Ashley Grehan, who racked up 21 digs to go with 11 kills. Sophomore Annika Schmitt recorded 13 kills and added 16 assists as well for the Presidents.

For the first two sets, however, it appeared as though the Patriot Cup would be making its way down St. George’s Street to Duxbury (13-1). Led by great performances from juniors Mackenzie Proukou and Katie Quilty, the Dragons would take a competitive opening set, 25-20, then followed things up by winning the second game as well, 26-24. Quickly, Duxbury was up 2-0.

Then, as the third set started to reach its climax, Quincy found itself trailing, 24-23, its season hanging in the balance. The Presidents fought valiantly for the next two points to take a 26-25 advantage. Then, Schmitt tapped a ball gently over the net for the final kill, as Quincy took the game, 27-25.

At that point, Quincy still had life, but quite a hill to climb.

“You can’t dwell on the past two sets,” Grehan said. “Because if you think about the set that you just lost, you’re never going to focus on the next point, and you’re just going to put yourself in a bigger hole. So we had to focus on the next step, the next point, and we got there.”

Then, Quincy flipped a switch as the fourth set came around, pulling away to win it, 25-17. Junior Mona Ly placed a ball perfectly out of reach for the Presidents to end things, forcing a fifth and final game.

Leading 14-11, and with the match on the line, Grehan and her teammates watched with anticipation as Duxbury tried to develop a return off a serve. The ball never made it back over the net, and the Presidents stormed the court.

“People didn’t respect us this whole season,” Grehan said. “It was nice to know that they were the best on (the Keenan) side, we were the best on (the Fisher) side, and that we could just pull it off. (We) showed everyone that we’re here, we’ve been here, and we can do it.”

Niosi was still somewhat in shock as the celebrations commenced.

“I said to these kids that if I ever had to pick a team I’ve coached to be in this situation, with COVID, and not knowing what was going on, they would be the team that I would pick,” said Niosi. “Because they never complained once about the shortened season. They never complained about (not having) a state tournament, or not having double sessions. We didn’t get the time to build team chemistry that you normally do. They just stepped on the floor and worked hard every day. And I’m so happy that it paid off for them.”

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