GNB Voc-Tech Men’s Volleyball defeats West Springfield in Div. 2 Elite 8

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NEW BEDFORD – Hooked on Div. 2 Final Four Trophy, Alberto Gomes couldn’t help but shake his hands.

“It’s a feeling that I can’t explain,” Gomes said. “It’s so exciting, I’m shaking.”

In the midst of a deep tournament, the GNB Voc-Tech offense is in full swing and Gomes is the catalyst.

The senior passer dished out 29 assists Friday night to spread the second-seeded Bears offensive drive in a 3-1 win over No. 7 West Springfield in the MIAA Division. 2 Elite 8.

“He’s running at a high level and he’s playing very well. He’s been huge,” said GNB Voc-Tech head coach Richie Gomes, noting his passer has surpassed 1,000 career assists this season. “He’s the one who moves the ball and makes the show happen. We are really proud of him.

The GNB Voc-Tech men's volleyball team makes its first appearance in the state semifinals.

Main outside hitter Ethan Fagundes added: “Alberto is often overlooked, but without him we are nothing. Without him, none of us batters can do anything.

Five different Voc-Tech players managed four or more wins as Alberto Gomes delivered the hot hand throughout the match.

“You can’t identify who our guy is going to be,” coach Gomes said. “We move the ball to whatever we see is available right now.”

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Alberto Gomes said losing his sophomore year to COVID was a driving force for Voc-Tech’s senior class.

“We push everyone so hard,” he said. “We missed our second year, so we can’t waste this opportunity. It’s our last year, so we have to make it count.

Alberto Gomes worked closely with fellow tri-captains Fagundes and Ethan Nunez.

GNB Voc-Tech's Alberto Gomes keeps the volley alive for the Bears.

“I couldn’t have done it without Ethan Fagundes and Ethan Nunez,” Gomes said. “They pushed me a lot to become a great passer so they could have powerful attacks.”

Fagundes still can’t believe the Bears are one win away from the national final, especially after starting the season with a young and inexperienced squad.

“I actually went home after practice on the first day angry,” he said. “I had a shoulder injury and between me and the team we looked awful. I thought we were going to have such a difficult season. We lost all our seniors and had no experience. I didn’t know we would get here.

“Coach Gomes said we’ve never finished in the Final Four (under him) so I’m excited to see what we can do. It’s going to be a tough game, but we’re going to play with all our hearts. »

HOW DID IT HAPPEN

The Bears took a 10-3 lead in the opening set and cruised to a 25-15 victory thanks to a solid strike from junior Evan Fagundes, who had four of his six kills in the first stanza.

West Springfield hung on with Voc-Tech throughout a tight second set that included 16 draws, the last being 25-25. A kill by junior Curran Farnworth gave the Bears a one-run lead and they won 27-25 on a hit in the West Springfield net to take a 2-0 lead.

The Terriers controlled the game in the third set, leading most of the time, and took the win 25-18 on a hit by junior Timmy Krivolenko.

“All of the Bears teams are working hard, but they’re fighting together in a different way right now,” Coach Gomes said. “You can see it on the pitch. We didn’t even look like this two weeks ago. They fight through mental blocks and they fight through opposing runs. We weren’t doing this at the beginning of the year and we weren’t doing this in the middle of the year.

The Bears came out in the fourth set on a mission, jumping ahead 14-6 on a block from Nunez and running away in the stretch behind Curran’s strike and Ethan Fagundes’ serve to win 25-15.

With graduation hitting Voc-Tech hard in 2021, this year’s team exceeded expectations.

“Never in a million years did I expect this,” coach Gomes said. “It makes me a little emotional just because of their hard work.

“This team doesn’t have the experience of the teams of the past, so most of the time we were too hot in the season and crashed in the playoffs and it didn’t work for us. This team, we were at the background and we fight non-stop.

WHAT THIS MEANS: With the win, the Bears improve their record to 16-3 (18-3 overall). They will face No. 3 Westfield (22-1) at 6 p.m. Monday at North High School in Worcester in Div. 2 Final Four. … West Springfield finished the year with a 17-5 record.

GOMES: “If you look at our bench last week and a half, he’s the seventh man of the year. They give us energy. Kids love it. It’s really cool to see.

WEST SPRINGFIELD STATS: Jacob Kukharchuk had 12 kills while Admir Catic added 11.

VOC-TECH STATISTICS: Farnworth had a team record 13 kills while Ethan Fagundes added 10 kills and 12 digs and Evan Fagundes contributed with six kills and 11 digs. Nunez had four kills, three service aces and three blocks while Jake Belli added four kills. Colin Stuessi had a team record 22 digs. Gomes had 20 digs to go along with his 29 assists.

REMARKS: Several GNB Voc-Tech volleyball alumni were present for the game.

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