NORTHBOROUGH — Andover knew what it was up against in Wednesday night’s state semifinal.
In its inaugural season in Division 1, Central-West Champion Hopkinton continues to prove it belongs with the state’s best. A perennial power, the Hillers had won two of the previous three Division 2 state championships.
It was a memorable run for Andover through the sectional, most notably its 3-2 reverse-sweep win over Methuen in the North final. But the road came to an end Wednesday night as Hopkinton swept the Warriors (25-19, 25-17, 25-19) in the state semifinal at Algonquin High School.
“Anybody can win,” said Andover coach Jane Bergin, whose team finished the year at 19-3. “When you get to this point, and you’ve won your section, you just have to compete hard. And I think at times we were on our heels, we were intimidated. We knew who they were, and we’ve played them.
“But I’m really proud of the kids. They did a great job all season. They’ve come back and fought right from the get-go.”
Where the advantage for Hopkinton (22-2) really showed was on the front line. Led by 5-foot-10 middle hitter Jill Czerepuszko, 6-foot-1 middle hitter Ivy Gogolin and 6-foot outside hitter Amanda Gilbert, the Hillers assembled a wall that Andover had difficulties hitting around.
The Warriors’ tallest starter, middle hitter Sarah Shattuck, is listed at 5-foot-10.
“They have a couple of Division 1 scholarship athletes,” said Bergin. “They’re a top team. They’re ultimately the best of the best. They are solid at all positions and a lot bigger than us, but I thought we did well up front for who we are.”
Shattuck and Hailey Halverson both held their own on the front line for Andover, each coming away with six blocks.
For what it was worth, Andover got the first point in each game and had no problems building an early lead. But each time, Hopkinton would go on a mid-game run that would break things open.
The Hillers went on an eight-point run in Game 1, a six-point run in Game 2 and a seven-point run in Game 3. Each making it tougher and tougher for Andover to control any sort of momentum.
Junior Alexis Mancha played well for Andover, recording a team-high seven kills along with 10 digs. Senior Sophia Wang added team-highs in assists (11) and digs (11).
In their final games, seniors Meredith Hunt, Sarah Williams, Anna Shahtanian and Olivia Gaspar also played well.
“They were great,” said Bergin. “What else more can you say? Just super kids. Super, super kids. Very fun. You know, they made coming to practice every day the best part of the day. They did a nice job. We’ll definitely miss them.”
In what comes as a pretty big surprise, Hopkinton will play Newton North in the state final. A time and date for that game has not yet been announced.
Newton North stunned unbeaten and perennial power Barnstable, 3-0, in the other semifinal.
Barnstable had won three of the previous four Division 1 state championships.
Hopkinton 3, Andover 0
Division 1 State Semifinal
Kills: Alexis Mancha 7
Blocks: Sarah Shattuck 6, Hailey Halverson 6
Assists: Sophia Wang 11
Digs: Wang 11, Mancha 10, Olivia Gasper 8
Andover (19-3): 19 17 19 — 0
Hopkinton (22-2): 25 25 25 — 3