Hock Moves Volleyball, Rejects Out-Of-Season Coaching

Oliver Ames volleyball Jordan Bennett
Oliver Ames junior Jordan Bennett tips a ball over a double block in the fourth set of the match against Barnstable in the 2019 D1 South Sectional Final. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
 
The Hockomock League officially announced the move of girls volleyball to the Fall 2 season in a statement released on Saturday afternoon. The announcement follows Thursday’s meeting with league athletic directors and principals.

Volleyball joins football, competitive cheerleading, and unified basketball in the Fall 2 season, which is slated to start on February 22. Boys and girls soccer, field hockey, golf, and cross country are scheduled to start on September 18 at the earliest, with some schools pushing the start date until September 21 due to Rosh Hashanah. The MIAA announced its guidelines and modification for those sports on Friday, which can be found at here.

“The Hock realizes the reality of many schools starting in a remote-only structure, keeping buildings closed, as well as hybrid schools not having appropriate access to their gymnasiums,” the statement said. At least five Hockomock schools – Canton, Franklin, King Philip, Mansfield, and Taunton – are set to start the school year fully remote.

The statement included a total of five key bullet points, including a vote against out-of-season coaching. The MIAA Board of Directors voted on August 19 to “allow out of season coaching from September 18th, 2020 through July 3rd, 2021, as approved by the member school principal.” The Hock voted unanimously to “continue to follow the MIAA Handbook guidelines on out-of-season coaching until at least November 1. Rule 40, titled “Out-of-Season Coach-Athlete Contact Limitations” partially reads that “between seasons a coach may conduct a meeting(s) with team candidates only to elect captains, collect equipment, issue equipment, to provide for physical examinations, to conduct legitimate fund-raising events, or to offer wellness workshops or activities.” You can view the entire MIAA Handbook at here.

The statement also notes this includes the fall sports (football, volleyball, competitive cheer, unified basketball) that were moved to the wedge season, noting “There will be no practices conducted for these sports until the issue is re-investigated on or before November 1.” Multiple sources have indicated that most leagues in the region will be making the same decisions regarding out of season coaching.

The Hockomock League also announced a new spectator policy in accordance with the most recent guidance that was issued by the MA Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs. There will be a limit of 50 spectators while face covers and six feet social distancing are required. Only spectators associated with the host school will be allowed into the facility and the league says spectators are “strongly discouraged from traveling to away games, especially since they will not be allowed into the host school’s facility when they arrive.”

Below is the complete statement from the Hockomock League:

 

Fall 2020 Sports are now moving forward to implementation. Several Hockomock League School Committees approved this week a return to the slate of Fall I sports put forth by MIAA. The MIAA Sports Committees completed their task of providing modifications to their sports to abide under the restrictive DESE and EEA guidelines issued on August 13. The MIAA Board of Directors approved and published these modifications on August 28.

The Hockomock Principals, following the recommendations of their respective Athletic Directors, made some important decisions regarding the sports offerings and procedures for the upcoming season. Their goal, as always, is to keep the League united and consistent in its competitive offerings. Here are the motions as approved by the Principals:

1. Start Date – The MIAA start date for Fall athletics is Friday, September 18th. This is the first day of the religious holiday of Rosh Hashanah. The League Principals voted to leave the start date up to the individual school. Therefore, some schools will begin practices on September 18 and others on Monday, September 21.

2. Sport Offerings – Guidelines from DESE/EEA/MIAA allowed schools to play Golf, Field Hockey, Boys and Girls Cross Country, Boys and Girls Soccer and Volleyball. As other conferences have done, including Central MA, all of District 3, and the Tri-Valley League, the Hock Schools agreed it would be best to move Volleyball to the new Fall 2 “wedge season” which will start on February 22. The Hock realizes the reality of many schools starting in a remote-only structure, keeping buildings closed, as well as hybrid schools not having appropriate access to their gymnasiums.

3. Out-of-Season Coaching – The MIAA approved Out-of-Season Coaching from September 18th to July 3rd. This in fact would allow any and all athletic programs to run practices all year. In order to minimize the amount of student extracurricular activity and limit student cohort interactions, the Principals voted for the League to continue to follow the MIAA Handbook guidelines on out-of-season coaching until at least November 1.

4. Football, Volleyball, Unified Basketball and Competitive Cheer Practice – These sports have been moved to officially practice and compete in the Fall 2 season that begins on February 22. In similar fashion to the motion above on out-of-season-coaching, the Principals approved the motion to govern these four sports under the MIAA Handbook guidelines. There will be no practices conducted for these sports until the issue is re-investigated on or before November 1.

5. Spectators
In an effort to organize the safest athletics experience possible for our student-athletes, the Hockomock League will be following the most recent guidance that was issued by the MA Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs. In the most recent guidance, issued on August 13th, the following details are specific to spectators regarding “Outdoor Capacity Limits”:

No more than 50 people excluding players, coaches, referees, or facility/activity workers in the aggregate in, on, or surrounding any surface / playing area or start/finish lines at any one time, provided that there is adequate space for all players, coaches, referees, or facility/activity workers and spectators to maintain at least six feet of social distancing.

Spectators must wear facial coverings and maintain six feet of social distance at all times.

In order to enforce this STATE-MANDATED restricted attendance, the Hockomock League will only be allowing spectators associated with the host school into their facility. All spectators are strongly discouraged from traveling to away games, especially since they will not be allowed into the host school’s facility when they arrive. The method by which each host school chooses to admit, or not admit, fans will be decided at the individual District level.

Any adjustments which we are pursuing are being made in order to continue to provide a healthy and safe athletic environment for our student-athletes. We are asking our families and student bodies to respect these Board of Health limitations to spectators at sporting events.

We are grateful for the opportunity for our Fall athletes to return to the playing field. While the seasons are date-modified, the sectional and state tournaments cancelled, and the sports are modified for health and safety, the student athletes will gain competitive experience and learn life lessons in these challenging and difficult times. Our students will greatly benefit and t heir social and emotional health will prosper.

Sincerely,
The Hockomock League ADs

Mark Houle, Attleboro
Danny Erickson, Canton
Joe Cusack, Foxboro
Tom Angelo, Franklin
Gary Brown, King Philip
Mike Redding, Mansfield
Peter Boucher, Milford
Kurt Kummer, North Attleboro
Bill Matthews, Oliver Ames
Nick Schlierf, Sharon
Ryan Donahue, Stoughton
Mark Ottavianelli, Taunton

Teams of the Decade #13: 2018 Franklin Volleyball

Franklin volleyball

Team: Franklin Volleyball
Year: 2018
Record: 20-1
2018 Kelley-Rex Division Champions
2018 Division 1 Central-West Champions
2018 Division 1 State Semifinalists


With a strong group of returning players, the Franklin volleyball team entered the season as the top-ranked team in our Hock 5 rankings. But there were few, at least outside of the program, that expected the Panthers to be as good as they were.

While the Panthers graduated a couple of key pieces from the lineup a year before, first-year head coach Kelsey Weymouth inherited a talented, experienced group that looked primed to get back atop the Kelley-Rex division. There were signs very early of just how talented Franklin was, including a 3-0 sweep over non-league foe Bishop Feehan, a 3-0 sweep over defending division champ King Philip, and a 3-1 win on the road over Hockomock power Canton — all in a five-day span.

Senior Lauren McGrath returned for her third year as the team’s starting setter was a key piece in orchestrating the offense as well as an important part of the Panther defense. After dishing out 545 assists her junior year, McGrath crossed the 1,000-assist mark as a senior with 547 assists. McGrath had plenty of choices to work with offensively with four players reaching the 100-kill mark: Ellie Wisniewski (151), Maggie Doyle (135), Allyson Bonnet-Eymard (102), and Hailey Sanders (100).

“I knew from our first practice that we had the skillset and drive to go all the way,” Weymouth said. Weymouth was a former standout at Hock rival North Attleboro before a successful career at Stonehill. “I was coached hard while playing at Stonehill College and in doing so, we were successful. I wanted to bring the same drive to my girls at Franklin High School … I was not easy on this group because I knew they had what it took but they needed that push and confident booster! They worked so hard day in and day out and I could not be more proud of them and all of their hard work during our 2018 season! These ladies had natural-born talent and when they came together as a team they were unstoppable.”

What made Franklin’s offense so dangerous was their ability to hit successfully from all three spots at the net. It wasn’t just a rotation between two outside hitters or forcing to just one player. Not only did the Panthers have one of the best outside hitters in Wisniewski, but they also had two very good options in Doyle (middle) and Sanders (opposite). Bonnet-Eymard and Emma Chase, both sophomores that season, provided strong attacking depth for Franklin.

On the flip side, the Panthers were strong defensively at the net as well. Doyle led the charge with 65 total blocks while Sanders added 35 and McGrath stepped up defensively while in the front row with 16 blocks. Riley Marino was the team’s defensive specialist, recording 218 digs. Wisniewski, Bonnet-Eymard, McGrath, and Shannon Gray were all reliable in the back row as well.

 

“Our 2018 season was amazing,” McGrath said. “Undefeated in the Hock, a league championship, first Sectional Championship for Franklin High School Volleyball, and a team and coach that was hardworking, resilient, and a lot of fun to be around. It will be a season I remember forever.”

Only three teams avoided being swept by the Panthers during the regular season with Oliver Ames (3-1) and Mansfield (3-1) being able to take a set along with Canton. But the playoffs were a different story and the Panthers really showed their mettle during the postseason run.

Entering the D1 Central West bracket as the #2-seed at 17-0, the Panthers were tested right away by #7 Concord-Carlisle. In their first five-set match of the season, the Panthers pulled out a victory to advance to the sectional semifinals. Franklin fell behind 0-2 to #3 Hopkinton, who was the home team because of a predetermined site, but the Panthers rallied to force a fifth game. Once again Franklin prevailed to move on to the sectional final. Despite going up 2-0 on #4 Shrewsbury, Franklin was forced to a fifth set for the third straight playoff game. The pattern continued as Franklin won the fifth set and the match, this time to clinch its first ever sectional championship.

“The girls were out with vengeance [against Hopkinton], you could cut the tension with a knife and I wanted nothing more than a hard-fought win for them that night,” Weymouth said. “After being down 2-0, they had no choice but to fight. I made some drastic but necessary changes that match and they adapted the best that I’ve ever seen. Ending in yet, another deserving five-set victory!

“Ending up top four in the state is something every young athlete hopes of doing. I did not accomplish that during my high school career and I wanted nothing more than for this group to accomplish that. Words honestly cannot describe how proud I am of that group of young ladies. They deserved everything they accomplished and then some.”

In the state semifinals, the Franklin volleyball team faced off against the standard-bearer of volleyball in the state of Massachusetts in Barnstable. The Raiders won the match 3-0 but not without an incredible effort from Franklin, who fell 25-17, 25-22, 25-23.






Franklin volleyball
Franklin volleyball

2018 Franklin Volleyball Schedule

Opponent
Result
MilfordW, 3-0
Bishop FeehanW, 3-0
King PhilipW, 3-0
CantonW, 3-1
MansfieldW, 3-0
StoughtonW, 3-0
TauntonW, 3-0
North AttleboroW, 3-0
Oliver AmesW, 3-1
FoxboroW, 3-0
AttleboroW, 3-0
SharonW, 3-0
King PhilipW, 3-0
MansfieldW, 3-1
TauntonW, 3-0
Oliver AmesW, 3-0
AttleboroW, 3-0
#7 Concord-CarlisleW, 3-2
#3 HopkintonW, 3-2
#4 ShrewsburyW, 3-2
Barnstable (State Semifinal)L, 3-0






Franklin volleyball

Franklin volleyball

Franklin volleyball

Franklin volleyball

Franklin volleyball

Franklin volleyball

Franklin volleyball

Franklin volleyball


2019 Hockomock League Volleyball All Stars

Below are the official 2019 Hockomock League Volleyball All Stars, selected by the coaches in the league.

Hockomock League MVP

Taylor Harris, Canton

Hockomock League All Stars

Ana Leonardo, Attleboro
Taylor Harris, Canton
Elizabeth Bickett, Canton
Grace Boudreau, Foxboro
Kelsey Treweek, Foxboro
Allyson Bonnet-Eymard, Franklin
Bridget Jackson, Franklin
Catherine Waldeck, King Philip
Nicole Coughlan, King Philip
Samantha Sternburg, Mansfield
Allison Corsini, Milford
Julia Riordan, Milford
Kylie Melanson, North Attleboro
Hayley Gaskin, North Attleboro
Allison Kemp, Oliver Ames
Jordan Bosse, Oliver Ames
Maya Aidlin-Perlman, Sharon
Alexa Quinones, Stoughton
Hailey Sullivan, Taunton

Canton Defeats Danvers To Claim First State Title

Canton volleyball
The Canton volleyball team poses with its newly won D2 State Championship trophy at Worcester State. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
WORCESTER, Mass. – The most decorated volleyball program in the Hockomock League is adding a new trophy and a new banner to its collection.

The Canton volleyball team battled through the ups and downs of a wildly competitive match to earn a 3-2 (25-22, 21-25, 25-23, 16-25, 15-13) win over previously unbeaten Danvers to claim its first-ever D2 State Championship.

The Bulldogs, who have won a Hockomock-best 15 league titles, will be adding a new state championship banner after overcoming a late deficit in the fifth set to earn the win.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

“Honestly I go in every year thinking this team can do it,” said Canton coach Pat Cawley, who has been with the program for 19 years as either the head coach or an assistant. “That’s the way I coach…we’re going to win the Hock, we’re going to go deep in the state tournament, and we’re going to win the state championship.

“Until we got into the tournament did I really believe we could go all the way. I believe in these girls, they have a chemistry that is uncompared. They really care about each other, they don’t get mad at each other on the court…you have to the skill but you have to have the chemistry too and I think this team had that.”

Canton won the first and third sets but Danvers, who entered the match at 25-0, answered each time, including the biggest win by either side in the fourth set that forced a decisive fifth set to decide the state champions.

 

Like the entire match did, the fifth set went back and forth with ties at 2-2, 4-4, 5-5, and 7-7. An ace from senior Taylor Harris (29 kills, 19 digs, four aces) gave the Bulldogs the slight edge at the switch.

But Canton’s lead quickly evaporated behind two Danvers kills and a play error, putting the Falcons up 10-9 and just five points away from a title. After Cawley called timeout, Canton came up and answered.

A line violation on a serve tied it 10-10, junior middle Liz Bickett (18 kills, 12 digs, two aces) smashed a kill over a block after a nice pass from Nikki Desjardins, and a Falcon hitting error put the Dogs ahead 12-10. A hitting error made it a one-point game but Bickett slammed another kill that brought Harris back into the front row. Danvers’ Carly Goodhue and Harris traded kills to put the Dogs up 14-12. A kill from Madelyn Montanari kept the Falcons alive at 14-13.

But Claire Quinn (eight kills, 19 digs) handled the serve with a nice pass right to setter Jackie Morrissey (49 assists, 12 digs), who pushed a set to the outside and Harris rose up and smashed the ball over the block and to the floor in the heart of the Falcon defense, securing a 15-12 win and the state championship.

“When I saw it was a good pass and we could set the ball I was thrilled because Taylor was feeling it in that fifth set,” Cawley said. “And I was feeling it for her. Just get the ball to Taylor [in the fifth set] and luckily she was able to put it away.”

“It felt really good to get the last point. Coach always tells us to play to the last point and that’s what we did. Coach Cawley has worked so hard all of these years for this to happen.”

Canton led from straight to finish in the opening set. A kill from Bickett and an ace from Steph Trendell (who combined with Desjardins for 22 digs) gave the Dogs an early boost. A kill from Angie Elias and another ace from Trendell pushed the Dogs’ lead to 12-8 but Danvers continued to hang around, forcing a tie at 13-13, 18-18, and again at 20-20.

But the Davenport champs never relinquished the advantage as a service error, a strong Bickett hit, and a kill from Harris pushed Canton to a 23-21 lead. Danvers got a kill out of a timeout to get within one but Harris dropped a shot in front of the back row on the second hit and Bickett sealed the first set with an ace.

“The first set was actually a good set, we got off to a good start,” Cawley said. “Then I think the pressure started creeping in. I knew a couple of key players were playing tight. We just had two tough matches with Westboro and Minnechaug. We’ve played from behind and we’ve played from ahead, and I just had to remind them this is what we’ve done all year.

“The records today didn’t matter. I think sometimes the pressure is on the undefeated team. You learn a lot through losing and we learned a lot from our losses this year (to KP and twice to North Attleboro). I kept reminding them that we have been here many times and we can do this.”

Danvers answered by opening the second set with a quick 7-2 burst. Canton slowly got back into the set and used an 8-2 run that featured three kills from Bickett and Harris and an ace from Quinn to jump ahead 16-14 in the set. But Danvers responded with a 6-1 run for a 20-17 lead, and then won five of the next six points to even the match at 1-1.

The third set started in similar fashion to the second with Danvers building an early five-point lead, this time taking advantage of two net violations and three Canton hitting errors to take a 9-4 lead.

But similar to the second, Canton rallied to keep it close but couldn’t overtake the Falcons for the majority of the match. Trendell had a key ace, Bickett landed a kill, and Harris had three kills in a four-point span that kept Canton within striking distance, down 16-14.

A roll shot from Quinn brought the Dogs within one but a kill off the block from Goodhue and two play errors put Danvers up 21-17. After Cawley calmed the troops during a timeout, Canton won three straight points that featured a huge solo block from Elias on Goodhue, and another block from Bickett to make it 21-20.

Canton tied it out of the break, and then again at 22-22 but Danvers moved within two points of going ahead in the match after Goodhue dropped a perfectly weighted tip over the Canton block for a 23-22 lead.

But Bickett got a kill after a partial block saw the ball hit the floor, junior Shannon Malloy went up and put down a loose serve receive, and Bickett landed another set-sealing ace to give Canton a 25-23 win and a 2-1 lead in the match.

“I think Liz Bickett carried us, got us into that fifth set,” Cawley said. “She was amazing. As well as the defense, I think we played pretty well, we got a lot of balls up to where we could set them. To get the ball to Liz, we have to have some good passing, and Liz was phenomenal.”

It was deja vu in the fourth set for the Bulldogs as Danvers once again raced out to a five-point advantage at 8-3. This time, Canton didn’t have much of an answer and had to use its second timeout down 12-7.




“We were really up and down in this match, I don’t think we played our best volleyball until maybe the fifth set,” Cawley said. “There were a lot of nerves out there and I’m sure Danvers had them too. Taylor had some nerves, she was a little tentative and hit some balls out. She was up and down but really worked through it, and after her first swing in the fifth set, I said ‘she’s back.’ The whole confidence of the team rises up when they see that.

“Danvers is a great team, they had strong defense and #6 [Carly Goodhue] killed us. We couldn’t get the timing of the block because it’s a different type of set than we’ve seen this year. We did touch a lot more [swings] in the third and fourth sets once they adjust. [Danvers] was a good team, but we had to focus on our game.”

Danvers’ extended its lead to as much as 10 before Canton finally got its footing in the fourth set. Senior Katie Lynch came off the bench and landed an ace and got another point for Canton after a strong serve never made it back over. Harris added a kill off the block to halve the deficit, now down just 19-14.

But Danvers finished the set strong out of a timeout, winning six of the next eight points for a decisive 25-16 win, forcing a fifth set.

“We went back into the huddle and just talked about [the fifth set] being a fresh start, a whole new game,” Harris said of Canton’s ability to bounce back from its rough fourth set. “We just had to believe in ourselves and we did.”

While Canton didn’t win the fourth set, Lynch’s serving helped stem the Falcons’ momentum some and showed off the depth the Bulldogs have.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

“That definitely sums up this team,” Cawley said. “I carry a big roster and they play against each other every day in practice. They are digging Taylor and Liz in practice and those kids are all ready to go. And they are ready if I call on them at any time. They’ve been on the bench for the tournament and never complained. They are totally involved. If they didn’t push the starters every day, we wouldn’t be here. The non-starters are so important to our program.”

While Harris and Bickett were the standouts and came up with a lot of key plays for the Bulldogs, the win wouldn’t have been possible without the strong play of everyone around them according to Cawley.

“Taylor has a very good supporting cast,” Cawley said. “My other outside Claire is very consistent and she gives us a kill when we need it. I can’t say enough about Liz Bickett…Angie, my opposite [hitter], gives us a lot of blocking, it’s a very unheralded position but she really does a great job. Shannon Malloy in the middle is coming into her own, and our defense did a good job. We’re not a one-dimensional team even though Taylor is a superstar. We need everybody to win in a place like this.

Canton volleyball finishes the season at 22-3.

Player of the Week: Taylor Harris, Canton Volleyball

Taylor Harris
 
By HockomockSports.com Staff

Canton senior Taylor Harris has been selected as the HockomockSports.com Player of the Week, presented by Morse Insurance, for Nov. 3 through Nov. 9. Harris is the 10th player chosen as Player of the Week for the 2019-20 school year.

Harris was the star performer for Canton during its run to the Div. 2 Central title, starring in all three of the Bulldogs’ playoff games, including the Central final against Westboro at Wellesley High. With Harris showing off her all-around game, the Bulldogs reached a second straight Central final and beat the Rangers 3-1 to secure the program’s second sectional title.

“Taylor is an amazing player,” said Canton coach Pat Cawley. “She’s one of the top players I’ve ever coached. Offensively, defensively, blocking she is really a great player…Taylor is certainly in a class of her own.”

In the playoff opener against Tantasqua, Harris sparked the Canton offense with 16 kills. She was also the top hitter in the dominant win against North Middlesex in the Central semifinal, leading the team with 13 kills and adding 12 digs. Against Westboro on Saturday afternoon, Harris demonstrated her overall game to help Canton go a step further than 2018 and secure the Central title. She finished with 20 kills and nine digs in the final.

For the season, Harris led the league with 332 kills and was in the top 10 in the league with 161 digs, while helping the Bulldogs earn yet another Davenport division title. She was also recently selected as the Hockomock League MVP.

Click here for a photo gallery from the D2 Central final.

 

The Player of the Week, presented by Morse Insurance, is selected by the HockomockSports.com staff. Nominations can be submitted throughout the week up until Saturday night at midnight. There may be a poll posted on every Sunday with the nominations. The results of the poll influence the selection but do not strictly dictate the decision.

Oliver Ames’ Upset Bid Of Barnstable Falls Just Short

Oliver Ames volleyball Jordan Bennett
Oliver Ames junior Jordan Bennett tips a ball over a double block in the fourth set of the match against Barnstable in the D1 South Sectional Final. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
NEW BEDFORD, Mass. – The Oliver Ames volleyball team was making its first-ever sectional appearance on Saturday evening, matched up with the state’s top program in Barnstable.

But just making an appearance wasn’t enough for the fourth-seeded Tigers. In fact, Oliver Ames did something that very few teams have been able to do in the South Final over the last decade: they pushed the Red Raiders to the limit.

Oliver Ames twice rallied from one-set deficits, including a late comeback in the fourth set to force a decisive winner-take-all fifth set. But second-seeded Barnstable showed why they are considered the best program in state history, grabbing an early lead in the final set and never looking back to secure a 3-2 (25-17, 23-25, 25-22, 23-25, 15-9) win and the program’s 10th straight D1 South Sectional title.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

“I told them to take it one point at a time and to enjoy it because this could be it,” said Oliver Ames head coach Chelsea Cunningham. “Even though it was, this was the best they have ever played. I’m so proud of all of them. I couldn’t ask for anything more. They played so calm, they celebrated together and they picked each other up. And every set was close. After the first set, we evaluated every situation and how we wanted to approach it. The girls persevered under a lot of tough pressure. To even go to five, it was phenomenal to watch and we got to entertain the crowd.”

In their decade of dominance, Barnstable has dropped a total of just three sets in the sectional final game. New Bedford forced the Raiders to five in 2010 while Bishop Feehan grabbed one set in the 2014 final. Barnstable hadn’t dropped a set in the sectional final in the past four years.

“We’ve gone to five every match, I couldn’t believe it,” Cunningham said. “We’ve just taken it one point at a time in every match. We switched it up on the offense to makes sure everyone was an option and to just prepared that the ball was going to come back over. They were feisty, they were prepared…we were an underdog, no one expected us to go this far. And the girls just fed off that energy.”

 

OA showed early on they were ready to compete by keeping pace as junior Jordan Bennett placed a tip over the block for a kill, then forced a two-touch on a strong serve, and junior Caroline Flynn (10 kills) forced an error after a good hit to bring the Tigers within two, down 11-9.

Barnstable responded with a 6-2 run and ended up taking the first set 25-17.

But the Tigers responded in a big way, opening the second set with a 7-0 run, a lead they wouldn’t relinquish the rest of the game. Senior Ryley McNeeley tossed a kill off the block, senior Allie Kemp (36 assists, 11 digs, two aces) landed an ace, and senior Jordyn Vella (six blocks, five kills) came up with back-to-back blocks to give the Tigers the early lead and the momentum.

The lead ballooned to 14-6 when senior Jordan Bosse (11kills, two aces) landed two kills in a three-play span, and Flynn hit above the block and to the floor for a kill, forcing Barnstable to take their second timeout early in the set.

Barnstable made it interesting early by cutting the deficit to three at 14-11 but Oliver Ames answered with a 7-3 that included two blocks and kill from Vella, another ace from Kemp, and a block kill from Bosse that denied a right-side attack from the Raiders.

Oliver Ames looked primed to even the score at one apiece when it went up 24-17 behind a net call, but the Raiders showed why they are so difficult to beat with flawless play over the next six chances. Barnstable won all seven of those points, helped along by a pair of OA errors, to get within one down 24-23 but a service error allowed OA to clinch the point and the set, making it 1-1.

“That’s a great program, Chelsea has done a great job,” said longtime Barnstable coach Tom Turco, who won his 700th game with the victory. “This is probably one of the biggest sectional championships that we’ve won.”

Barnstable built an early 8-5 lead in the third set but OA wouldn’t break, responding with a 6-2 run that featured a kill and ace from Bosse and two kills from Flynn to take an 11-10 lead. The teams traded points for a good chunk of the set, with the teams tied at 11, 12. 13, and 15. Barnstable gained the slightest advantage with a quick 5-1 run as junior Caroline Kiehnau gave the Raiders a huge boost with a handful of kills off Tiger blocks.

Oliver Ames got with three on three occasions, down 21-18 after a nice tip kill from Bennett after a big dig from Alison Barth (40 digs), down 22-19 after a kill from Flynn, and down 23-20 on a nice spot push from Flynn. The Tigers even got within two at 23-21 when Sarah Morley delivered an ace and at 24-22 behind a Bosse kill, but a nice dump by the Barnstable setter on the second touch caught OA off guard for a 25-22 win in the third set.

The fourth set played out similarly to the third, but even closer throughout. Barnstable led by two early on by an ace from Bosse, two kills from Bennett, and a kill from Flynn on a nice back set from Kemp helped OA tie it at 11-11.

OA jumped in front by two on a huge block from McNeeley on an outside attack from Barnstable and a kill from Flynn for a 13-11 advantage. OA remained a point ahead while the teams traded points but Barnstable finally earned consecutive points helped by a service error to make it 20-20 to force a timeout.

“I just told them its a game to five, and I asked who’s going to get there first? They told me that they were and that’s exactly what they did,” Cunningham said. “We committed to it as one and it was awesome.”

Barnstable took three leads, 21-20, 22-21, and 23-22 but the Tigers refused to give up. Bosse and Bennett had black to back strong swings for kills, and then Bosse got a kind roll off the top of the net, falling over into Raiders’ territory for a 25-23 win, forcing a fifth set.

The experience of Barnstable paid off as they picked up an early lead. After Vella put OA up 1-0, Barnstable won eight of the next points that featured two blocks from the Raiders and two balls that fell just out of the reach of OA defenders.

The Tigers played well after the switch with Bosse getting a kill and Bennet landing a big block and a kill, but Barnstable also played well and extended its lead to 13-6. In true fashion to how they played the entire match, OA still didn’t fold as a hitting error and a double block from Vella and Flynn got the Tigers within five, down 13-8.

But Barnstable was able to grind out two more points and secure their 10th straight sectional title.

“I think [the underclassman] are even more committed to continue persevering and making these seniors proud,” Cunningham said. “I think they are ready to work hard to fill the big shoes that are leaving this program and I think next year will be just as exciting.”

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Meanwhile, the senior class leaves behind a lasting legacy that includes bringing the program to new heights. That group includes Jordan Bosse, Ryley McNeeley, Allie Kemp, Alison Barth, Jordyn Vella, and Mary Davenport.

“This is my first group to graduate as head coach,” Cunningham said. “I saw them as freshmen, I saw the potential, and I knew they were going to be something special and they didn’t let me down in that aspect. We’re going to miss them dearly and they know they left such a prominent and positive mark on this program. They should be nothing but proud of themselves.”

Oliver Ames volleyball finishes its best season in program history with an 18-5 record, its first-ever Kelley-Rex title, and the furthest the team has gone in program history.