Brian Cloonan spikes the ball/ Credit: Henri Ching

Needham High School has not just one, but two boys teams playing for state Division 1 titles this week.

Tonight [Thursday] the Rockets volleyball team chases its fourth straight championship against Newton North at Worcester State University in a rematch of last year’s final. And tomorrow night, the Cinderella lacrosse team goes up against three-time defending champ and No.1 seed St. John’s Prep at Burlington High School.

The top-seeded volleyball team (24-2 on the season) soared through Monday’s MIAA semifinals, beating Milford in straight sets 25-14, 25-16, 25-14. No. 4 Milford hung tough until about halfway through each set. After that, Needham standouts such as seniors Luke Lorence, Brian Cloonan and Andrew Kurdziel and juniors Will McDonald and Jeremy Bullard-Smith overpowered the Hawks at the net. Seniors Devin Dellamarggio and Owen Ching also played key roles.

“I thought we played well,” coach Dave Powell told the Observer before yesterday’s practice. “We served tough, we executed our game plan quite well, and everyone did their part.”

The last team standing in the Rockets’ way: Newton North, the same squad that handed Powell’s team its only two losses this season. The Tigers, seeded No. 2, clawed their way into the final after dropping their first two semifinal sets to No. 3 seed Natick and facing match point in the third. They rallied to win the last three sets 26-24, 25-23 and 15-12.

Sean Reilly/ Credit: Joey Saratella

“They have a lot of weapons. We have to do our best to slow those weapons down,” Powell said. “I’m just really focused on our own performance, not on the other side of the net.”

Needham (24-2) lost twice to Bay State Conference rival Newton North (21-3) during the regular season, 3-2 on April 11 (snapping the Rockets’ 77-match winning streak) and 3-1 on May 14.

Game time tonight is 7:30 at Worcester State University. Tickets must be purchased online at gofan.co. {editors note – it’s “dot co” – not “dot com}

Needham’s lacrosse team, the No. 7 seed, reached Friday night’s final with a thrilling 9-8 semifinal victory over No. 3 Acton-Boxborough. The game seesawed back and forth until senior captain Sean Reilly won it with a twisting, no-look shot on a feed from Spencer Chapman with just 3:32 to play in the fourth quarter. A beaming coach Dave Wainwright called it a goal that will live in infamy.

“If you did that in practice, I’d be yelling at him,” said Wainwright. “But you know what? It paid off.”

It was Reilly’s fourth goal of the game. Junior Reis Conway had a pair, including a critical score with just 8 seconds to play in the second quarter that cut Acton-Boxborough’s halftime lead to 5-4. Tommy Peabody made some tough saves in the net.

The Rockets, now 17-5, got to the semifinals last Friday by upsetting No. 2 seed Lincoln-Sudbury 14-7.  Up next, top-seeded St. John’s Prep (20-2), which beat No. 4 seed Boston College High School 6-4 in Tuesday’s other semifinal.  

Prep has won the last three Division 1 titles — a lot for upset-minded Needham to handle. “This is one game at a time,” Wainwright said after Tuesday’s victory. “Our plan is go home, enjoy this for the night and then process. We’re going to throw everything but the kitchen sink at them.”

Game time at Burlington High School on Friday is 6 p.m. Tickets must be purchased online at the gofan.co

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