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Latin Academy beats Madison Park in potential city championship preview

Posted by Justin Rice  October 23, 2012 06:42 PM

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Latin Academy sophomore outside hitter Victoria Thong led the Dragons with 25 service points against Madison Park on Tuesday, including five aces. She also had five kills and started off the day by serving the first 13 points of the opening set. (Pavel Dzemianok / For the Boston Globe)

In a potential preview of next week’s city championships volleyball final, Latin Academy shut out division rival Madison Park, 3-0, Tuesday afternoon at Madison Park.

Sophomore outside hitter Victoria Thong led the Dragons (9-4, 9-1) with 25 service points, including five aces. She also had five kills and started off the day by serving the first 13 points of the opening set.

“I thought I wasn’t going to do very well,” Thong said, “but once I got into the rhythm of serving, I felt very confident about the game, because if you start off strong, you will definitely end strong and the whole game definitely proved that it was true.”

The victory likely secured the Boston City League North regular-season title for the Dragons. Madison Park (11-2, 11-2) is also likely to clinch a berth in the cities, which will be next Monday and Tuesday at a time and location to be determined.

Latin Academy will likely meet Burke (11-3, 10-3) or Snowden (10-3, 10-3) in the semifinals Monday. In the other first-round match, Madison Park will likely meet O’Bryant (9-4, 9-2), which secured the South division title by defeating Snowden on Monday and Burke last Thursday.

While Madison Park didn’t show up against Latin Academy Tuesday, it did take the first two sets off Latin Academy Oct. 2 before losing, 3-2, on the road.

This time, Latin Academy won each game convincingly, 25-13, 25-11, and 25-7.

“It was really surprising to us because we never thought they’d get that far," Thong said of the first match. "So after we lost the first set, we were like, ‘Come on, guys, we have to clean this up.’ But once we lost the second set, we were like, ‘Oh I guess they got better.' ”

“Today it was like we have to show them we are still on top.”

Madison park captain Krystal Edwards said going down, 13-0, in the first game set her squad back mentally.

“I would say that took a toll on some girls,” she said. “It’s like once they make a mistake they dwell on it and the next play they compound it.”

But Madison Park coach Gladys Perez Byrd has no doubt that her team will bounce back for the cities.

“They’ll be OK," she said. "Kids are very resilient. That’s the nice thing about working with kids is they are amazingly resilient. I have confidence that they can do it, they have to have confidence that they can do it. That’s the issue.”

Perez Byrd said the last time the teams played, her squad served and set the ball much better.

“They took a while to wake up [Tuesday]," she said. "They weren’t moving their feet, they were planting, they were swinging their arms but they weren’t moving their feet. It’s one of our biggest issues is their movement.

“Last time, they were hitting all their serves for one, they were setting up and hitting all their spikes, and they weren’t doing any of that today. And they had great communication [last time] and movement and they weren’t doing any of that today.”

Latin Academy coach Phuong Cao noted how much Madison Park has improved from last season and said his team can’t take anyone for granted in the cities.

“We just have to make sure my girls are focused," he said. "It’s not an easy thing, it’s not a guaranteed win. We know each other so well. The first game was very close."

Latin Academy sophomore outside hitter Alex Wilson, who had five kills and 10 service points, noted that the team has lost in the cities the last three years.

“It would mean a lot to us [to win cities] because we work so hard as a team and we haven’t won for the last few years,” she said. “So for us to win the city championships would mean a lot to us.”

Justin A. Rice covers Boston Public school athletics. He can be reached at jrice.globe@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeJustinRice or @BPSspts.

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Several reporters, editors and correspondents contribute updates, news and features to the BPS Sports Blog:
  • Justin A. Rice -- A metro Detroit native, Rice is a Michigan State University (Go Spartans!) and Northeastern University graduate. Rice lives in the South End with his dog and wife, who unfortunately attended the University of Michigan ... his wife, that is. He curates the BPS Sports Blog and is always looking to write about city athletes with great stories. Have an idea? He can be reached at jrice.globe@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeJustinRice or @BPSspts.
  • Ryan Butler -- A Rhode Island native and avid Boston sports fan, Butler played basketball, baseball and football throughout his time in Barrington Public Schools. Now currently in his middler year at Northeastern University, he joins Boston.com as a correspondent for the site's BPS coverage. Have a story idea? Contact him at butler.globe@gmail.com. Follow him on his Twitter @butler_globe.
Also expect updates from Boston.com High School sports editor Zuri Berry and the Globe staff.