By HockomockSports.com Staff
Player are listed alphabetically
2021 Hockomock Volleyball Players to Watch
Lilly Boedeker, Senior – Attleboro
Attleboro is looking to turn things around this season and push for a postseason spot (and they are off to a good start with wins in their first two matches). One of the keys to establishing a strong team is good leadership and good defense, and senior captain Lilly Boedeker provides both for the Bombardiers and second-year head coach Mary Katherine Runey. Boedeker had a strong Fall 2 season just a couple of months ago and is back as the anchor of the back line for the Bombardiers as the team’s libero. She is like a vacuum on serve receives (197 last season) and does a nice job with her position and reactions for her passing (123 digs). Attleboro has a strong mix of talent this season with an experienced group of upperclassmen, sophomore setter Natalie Brojek back in the fold, and freshman Ana Leonardo making a good impression early. If Attleboro makes a big run this season, it’s going to all start with Boedeker’s defense.
Mikayla Cleary, Senior – Taunton
Taunton has battled through some years and inexperience and tough injuries over the past couple of seasons but the Tigers have a good group that’s looking to turn their fortunes around. The most experienced player on the team is senior Mikayla Cleary and she will be a force at the net for head coach Toby Chaperon. She played in 63 sets (second-most on the team) as a sophomore and was third on the team with 63 kills, and just a couple of months ago during the Fall 2 season, she played every game for Taunton and led the Tigers in both kills (49) and attempts. Taunton has developed some options around her in junior Haley Krockta and senior Angie Lynch so the offense should be a pretty solid balance but look for Cleary to be one of the main pieces to the puzzle for the Tigers this year.
Sarah Brogioli, Senior – Milford
The Hawk had an up-and-down Fall 2 season but were relatively young with just four seniors on the team and a handful of players getting their first real taste of the varsity game. That experience will come in handy this year as Milford looks to make some noise in the always difficult, always competitive Kelley-Rex division. One player that has plenty of experience is senior Sarah Brogioli, now in her third year playing at the varsity level. She will be one of the go-to reliable options at the net for Milford, having taken a lot of swings at outside hitter over the past two years. She goes all the way through the rotation and seems to always be making a play for Milford. She has a lot of power to her swing but she also can rotate to the back row and give the Hawks consistency defensively. Emily Croteau took over as setter last season as a sophomore and now has a season under her belt for experience, which also means she has chemistry with one of the top hitters in the league in Brogioli.
Sydney Gallery, Senior – Canton
Canton has won 13 league titles in the last 14 seasons and for the Bulldogs to maintain that dominance this fall it is going to lean heavily on its small group of returning players. Gallery is one of those. The senior middle hitter is known more for her exploits on the basketball court, but last season she showed a lot of growth and increased confidence as a hitter and a blocker. Gallery has improved every season and saw her playing time increase as a result. She was able to come off the bench last year and provide a spark with her defense and with the few swings that she had. This year, Gallery should see a lot more opportunities to get into the attack and could be a featured weapon for Canton’s offense. Her athleticism and strength will give the Bulldogs balance to the offense and someone to give opposing hitters something to think about before they swing. This could be a transitional year for Canton, but Gallery and her fellow returning players will be focused on continuing the legacy of winning that Canton has enjoyed for more than a decade.
Ahunna James, Junior – King Philip
Then next in a line of talented hitters at King Philip, James was the rare sophomore who stepped into the starting lineup and made an instant impact. This could be the true breakout season for a hitter that, while helping KP reach the Hock Cup final, showed flashes of being able to dominate a match. Strong and athletic, James can overpower a defense, even if players are in the right positions, but she also has the vision to pick the right angles and the volleyball IQ to use the block for points. She plays with the confidence of someone who has far more than one year of significant varsity experience. For the past few seasons, KP has been oriented to using the middle because that’s where its strength lie, but now James has moved the attack back out wide. She is also a strong defensive player and god at the service line, making her a six-rotation player. The Warriors are looking for a three-peat of Kelley-Rex titles and James is the type of player that can propel a team past the challenging pack.
Julia Kelly, Senior – Mansfield
It is a huge advantage for a team’s top player to be able to stay on the court through all six rotations. Kelly is that type of player for the Hornets. The senior outside hitter has a strong all-around game, not only dominating at the net but also dropping into the back row to come up with crucial digs, making the right passes to set up teammates, and creating points from the service line. Kelly has been a three-year starter for the Hornets and her versatility has been a big feature of her game. She is capable of turning a point on its head with a big swing or coming up with a defensive play to keep a point alive. Kelly is also a leader on the floor, which is helpful for a team that is on its third coach in the past three seasons. Mansfield is looking to take a leap this year and challenge defending champs Franklin and King Philip and Kelly is the type of player that could lift the Hornets to that level and keep them in the running for an elusive title.
Taylor Lacerda, Sophomore – Franklin
Even though they had to wait an extra six months to get last year’s campaign going, Franklin had a season to remember by winning a share of the Kelley-Rex division and then winning the Hock Cup against King Philip, the team they split the division title with. The Panthers had one of the best all-around players in senior Ally Bonnet-Eymard but one of the reasons that Franklin was so good last year was because they had a lot of viable options around her so defenses struggled to key in on one player. It’s not often a freshman steps into the lineup and makes such a big impact right away, especially offensively as an outside hitter, but that’s exactly what Taylor Lacerda did. She played in all spots on the floor and was among Franklin’s statistical leaders in almost every category. She was second on the team with 74 kills, which was among the league leaders, as well as one of the top servers (24 aces) and defensive players (53 digs). The Panthers also graduated Emma Chase, who was third on the team in kills, so there will be more swings to had this year and Lacerda will be one of the top options.
Cailyn Mackintosh, Senior – Franklin
Mackintosh has been one of the best setters in the league for the past two seasons and the fulcrum on which Franklin’s potent attack balances. Her accurate passing and her ability to spot the opening in a defense have put the Panthers’ hitters into strong positions and put her at or near the top of the league’s assist charts for two years running. Mackintosh is tall and long, which enables her to also look for her own swings when the timing is right. She is a threat from the service line and a more than capable defender on the back row. Mackintosh helped the Panthers win back-to-back league titles and last year’s Hock Cup and her vocal leadership will be important for the newer players on this year’s roster. Having a setter like Mackintosh opens up the entire court because any hitter is a threat and Franklin is counting on that balanced offense to make another title challenge this fall.
Mallorie Meyer, Junior – Foxboro
There are a lot of new faces on the roster for Foxboro this season with only five players back from the Fall 2 season a couple of months ago. That means the Warriors will be leaning heavily on the players that do have experience while the rest of the squad gets up to speed of the varsity game. One of the players that did play last season and is back is junior Malorie Meyer, who got gained some valuable experience during her playing time as a sophomore. Foxboro graduated its top five hitters in terms of kills so there is a big void for someone to fill at the net and Meyer will be one of those options for third-year head coach Victoria Santana. Meyer has a strong all-around game and will likely go through the entire rotation for the Warriors. She had 20 kills last year to go along with 13 digs, 11 blocks, and eight aces. Having a player that can make an impact both at the net, at the service line, and in the back row will be a big boost for the young Warriors.
Hadley Rhodes, Senior – Oliver Ames
Oliver Ames was coming off its best season in program history going into the 2020 season and they did a nice job to carry some momentum to an eight-win campaign, even if they had to wait an extra six months to get it going. With a solid core of players back in the fold this fall, look for the Tigers to be one of the top challengers for the Davenport division title. Since head coach Chelsea Cunningham took over, Oliver Ames has been a team that only gets better and better as the season goes on. This year, she has come cornerstone pieces to work with and she integrates new faces into the lineup. One of those key pieces is senior setter Hadley Rhodes, who took over as the starting setter last season. She’s played with the varsity team since her sophomore year so she knows the speed of the varsity game. She is a good decision-maker (257 assists) and doesn’t make many errors (just 22 in over 800 attempts of handling the ball). She can also get up and swing if the passing doesn’t go perfectly, giving the Tigers a nice option on the right side when she’s in the front row.
By HockomockSports.com Staff
2021 Hockomock Volleyball Preview
2021 Hockomock Volleyball Preview
2020 (Fall II) Record: 1-11
Coach: Mary Katherine Runey
There is a lot of excitement surrounding the program as the Bombardiers are set to take the court for their second season, but first full season, under head coach Mary Katherine Runey.
The Bombardiers boast a large senior class featuring a lot of returning players along with a handful of juniors and even some freshmen ready to make an immediate impact on the court this Fall. It all starts with senior captains Lilly Boedeker, Marissa Conroy, and Summer Pereira, who will provide key leadership both on and off the court. Boedeker is the anchor of the defense as the libero while Pereira is making the switch to the right side to provide key blocking plus another offensive option.
Options will be vital for sophomore setter Natalie Brojek, who is back for her second season on the team as the setter. Seniors Delia Barthel, Holly Berg, Kate Petrosso, and Gabby Bolduc are all returning players and are joined in the roster by classmates Corina Lugo, Celina Lugo, Ellie Amaral, and juniors Brianna Frissora and Tigin Bombardier. Petrosso and Frissora will take care of business at the net as middle hitters while freshman Julia Leonardo could see time right away as an outside hitter.
“As a program, we are certainly looking to continue to build and grow,” Runey said. “Last year, we had to learn to play together and figure out which pieces of the puzzle work together. This year, we continue to work hard to minimize errors, control the pace of the game, and learn how to win. I believe that hard work will pay off this season.”
2020 (Fall II) Record: 10-2
Coach: Pat Cawley
Canton made it 13 league titles in the past 14 seasons when it edged Sharon to the Davenport title a year ago. This season, the Bulldogs will have a lot of new faces, as only five players return from 2020’s abbreviated campaign, but there still remains a lot of enthusiasm for a new season and the potential to rebuild for yet another title challenge.
Senior Sydney Gallery returns as the team’s middle hitter after a solid season contributing off the bench. Gallery has improved and seen her playing time increase each season and will now be one of Canton’s primary weapons. Seniors Anna Verille and Tayla DeGraw will add to the attack on the outside. Both saw significant minutes as juniors and can also provide points from the service line. Sophomore Jess Wright is a newcomer that could make an instant impact on the outside as well. Senior setter Taylor Reynolds is back to run the Bulldogs offense and put the hitters in the right spots. She is also a strong presence on the back row defensively. Seniors Amaiah Christian, Katie Dever, Ella Lewis, Kelly McDonald, and Jess Vo will all see the floor and add depth to the Canton roster.
“What we lack in experience, we make up in work ethic and desire,” said Canton coach Pat Cawley. “This year’s team is motivated and anxious to keep the strong Canton volleyball tradition going! Led by a great group of seniors, the entire team has the same goal – to play at the highest level possible and to be the best they can be!”
2020 (Fall II) Record: 3-9
Coach: Vicki Santana
This will be a season of transition for the Warriors, who return only five players from last year’s team. Despite graduating 10 seniors and only featuring two seniors on this year’s roster, Foxboro is excited about the potential of its younger players and looking to grow as a team over the course of the new season.
Juniors Sami Sloan and Mallorie Meyer will both step into bigger roles after gaining some varsity experience as sophomores last year. They are part of a big junior class (eight players) that will be counted on to carry the Warriors this fall. Both Sloan and Meyer have been working not only on their hitting but also the defensive part of the game to be able to help in the back as well as the front row. Junior Alyssa Cloherty will be the setter and classmate Shannon McElhinney will take over as the libero and both have shown capable of making smart decisions with the ball on the back row.
“I am seeing a lot of talent and can’t wait to see how the team performs,” said Foxboro coach Vicki Santana. “Our focus is to build team chemistry for the team to be successful. As long as the players are ready to put in the work this fall, I am anticipating a successful year.”
2020 (Fall II) Record: 12-1
Coach: Samantha Elliott
Franklin has won at least a share of the past three Kelley-Rex titles and last year also claimed the first-ever Hock Cup. Even while graduating important players, like leading hitter Ally Bonnet-Eymard, the Panthers continue to build squads that look ready to compete for the title every season.
The strength for the Panthers is at setter. Senior Cailyn Mackintosh is a three-year starter and one of the best passers in the league. Her ability to spread the ball around and hit spots opens up the floor for the offense and makes Franklin hard to match up against. Sophomore Taylor Lacerda will be one of Mackintosh’s top targets this year following a strong freshman season on the outside. Senior Lindsey Tarantola will be the main threat in the middle and senior Brigid Earley will be back at opposite. Defensively, the Panthers will count on senior Meghan Linkkila, who will be moving from defensive specialist to libero this season, to control the back row.
“I have high expectations for these players but more importantly they have high expectations for themselves,” said second-year Franklin coach Samantha Elliott. “This team is striving to continue proving themselves and working hard to be the best they can be, and hopefully, that is another Hockomock title.
2020 (Fall II) Record: 11-2
Coach: Kristen Geuss
When you look at the class that graduated from last season, the Warriors certainly lost a lot of talent from a team that won a share of the Kelley-Rex division title. But this is a program that doesn’t have many rebuilding seasons, they simply reload.
The Warriors have several returning players that will play a significant role this season. Senior captain Stella Bailey will take over as the primary setter, and she’s a confident player that can run the offense very well (136 assists last season). Bailey will have two very good options to work with in senior captain Liv Carey and junior captain Ahunna James. Not only is James one of the most lethal hitters in the league (124 kills last season), she’s a very good defender (104 digs) and server (94.6 serve percentage) as well.
King Philip will lean heavily on a pair of seniors to lead the way defensively in the back row with Samantha Asprelli taking over as libero and classmates Sofia Reidel and Gianna DeLorenzo as defensive specialist options. The graduation of the team’s top hitter and blocker Nicole Coughlan leaves a big void at the net but junior Sami Shore gained some key experience last year as she prepares to give the Warriors a boost at the net. Junior Emily Sawyer is a new addition that has been promising in the preseason as a middle while senior Molly O’Brien has played well on the right side. Juniors Kiera Hagen, Missy Canning, and Olivia O’Neil as well as sophomores Kate O’Neil and Shea Mellman are all battling for time on the court.
“I am very pleased with how prepared the players have come back from last season, they have been working very hard at practice,” Geuss said. “I think we will be strong on both offense and defense. The players are ready to go and are looking forward to a more normal season!”
2020 (Fall II) Record: 6-6
Coach: Tara DeGirolamo
For the second season in a row, Mansfield will have a new coach. The Hornets are turning to JV coach Tara DeGirolamo this fall and hoping that a mix of experienced returning players and some new faces can help them pose a challenge to defending league champs Franklin and King Philip.
Mansfield will run its offense through senior hitter Julia Kelly. A three-year-starter, Kelly is a versatile layer who rarely takes a rotation off and gives the Hornets a lift on both attack and defense. The middle should be a big threat as well with senior Nicole Santos and junior Alexandra Scibilia giving the Hornets good net presence. Senior Christina Lydon and junior Isabella Flint will be back at the setter position and senior Nora Buckley adds to the attack on the right side. Sophomores Elyssa Buchanan and Anna Goulet and junior Lily Verheggen will be new hitters to add depth for the Hornets. Defensively, senior Lauren Knight will lead the back row with senior Calysta Robyn and junior Jackie Zelic able to step in and provide defensive cover as well.
“The Hornet volleyball team has a great group of veteran and new players rounding out the roster this season,” said DeGirolamo.
2020 (Fall II) Record: 4-8
Coach: Tammy Webber
Volleyball is back in the fall and the Scarlet Hawks are hoping to make it back to the postseason with a strong core of players on the roster.
Despite only four seniors on the roster, head coach Tammy Webber has a lot of experience on the squad after a lot of the players experienced the varsity level for the first time during the Spring. One player who has been around for a long time is senior outside hitter Sarah Brogioli, an All-Hockomock selection from last season. Not only is she one of the top hitters in the league, but she is also a top defensive option for the Hawks. A big advantage for Brogioli and the rest of the Hawk hitters is having junior Emily Croteau back at setter. Croteau emerged as the team’s top setter during the Fall 2 season so she knows the pace of the varsity level and has some options to distribute too.
Beyond Brogioli, Croteau will have two experience middles to work with. Senior Lexi Starks is a good two-way player, providing the Hawks with some good swings on offense and key blocks defensively. She can also rotate all the way through the lineup, playing defensively in the back row. Junior middle Aliza Syed had a really strong sophomore season and can be really hard to stop when she gets into a groove; she’s also a strong server for the Hawks. Carley Haley, Jess Douglas, and Molly Hartman will anchor the back row for Milford.
“With the players we have returning, we are hoping to challenge the top teams in the league,” Webber said.
2020 (Fall II) Record: 2-9-1
Coach: Courtney Lambrese
It has been four seasons since North Attleboro ended Canton’s reign atop the Davenport division. Last year, the Rocketeers were rebuilding after graduating a big senior class and there were some growing pains but first-year coach Courtney Lambrese has eight seniors returning and will hope that experience can carry North to a much better 2021.
North will look to be aggressive on offense, utilizing the strength of senior outside hitters Amira Boory and Sara Carter. Senior Madelyn Corsetti will give the Rocketeers another look in the middle, adding some balance to the attack. All three move well at the net and should also be effective in the block. Senior Katherine McHoul will be the setter and is joined in the back row by senior defensive specialists Ava Dunlevy and Julianne Chen. It is a defensive unit that Lambrese praised for its ability to read the hitter and be aggressive getting to the ball.
“This will be my fourth season with the program, I am looking forward to taking on a new role as the varsity coach with the group of athletes we have,” said Lambrese. “Overall, I’m excited for the talent and drive this team expresses and to see their successes this season.”
2021 Hockomock Volleyball Preview
2020 (Fall II) Record: 8-4
Coach: Chelsea Cunningham
Head coach Chelsea Cunningham always has high expectations for her Tigers, and this year is no different. OA boasts some key returners on the court while Cunningham is excited to integrate some new faces into the lineup after the void left by graduation.
Anytime you can bring back your starting setter, you’re already at an advantage and the Tigers have one of the better ones in the Hock in senior captain Hadley Rhodes. She learned a lot last year and can spread the ball out to the weapons the Tigers have. Rhodes can also get involved in the attack as a solid option at opposite hitter. Another key piece to the puzzle will be junior Maddie Homer, who is a three-year starter and the team’s libero. Homer’s veteran presence will help solidify the back row for OA.
Senior captain Shannon Willard will be in the mix as a setter as well while junior Courtney Raymond is poised for a breakout season as a middle hitter after gaining valuable experience during the Fall 2 season. Sophomore Sarah Hilliard learned what the varsity level is all about and is back as one of the main hitting options for OA.
“Returning to more ‘normal’ practice in athletics is exciting enough as it is and being able to continue working with such wonderful student-athletes makes it even better,” Cunningham said. “This group is full of new faces and they all bring something unique to the team. This season, some of our main goals include playing “our” game, always being ready to compete, and making every moment count. I am privileged to coach another season for such an amazing, supportive, and competitive program and cannot wait to see what’s in store for us!”
2020 (Fall II) Record: 9-3
Coach: Bill Schustek
Sharon is coming off one of the best seasons in program history. The Eagles won nine times last season, picked up a very rare win against perennial power Canton, and finished just a game behind the Bulldogs, narrowly missing out on the program’s first league title. Graduation will have taken its toll, with Sharon losing its top hitters from last year, but first-year coach Bill Schustek will be hoping the momentum can carry over into 2021.
Although the Eagles lost the top four players from last season, they do return eight players with varsity experience. On the front row, seniors Simone Dunbar and Erin Schustek will be the primary weapons. Dunbar will be a threat in the middle, along with classmate Savannah Gray, and Schustek will be on the outside with help from junior Tess Letendre. Senior Trinity Payne is another strong player at the net, either in the middle or on the right side. Emily Rubenstein is in her third year as the starting libero and is the leader of the back row.
“Without a dominant hitter, we will need to be a defensive and ball control focused team to have success this year,” said Schustek. “Our goal for the season is to qualify for the state tournament.”
2020 (Fall II) Record: 3-8-1
Coach: Felicia Baptista
With key players back in key positions, Stoughton is looking to bounce back after a down year during the abbreviated Fall II season. Kiara Scardina, Patrik Oliveira, and Vanessa Philemond give the Black Knights a solid core of veterans to build around for the 2021 season.
The Davenport is wide open this season with most teams graduating the majority of their lineup from a season ago. That means every team is in the mix and whoever is playing best down the stretch might be the one to take it. Scardina, a junior captain, got a lot of experience as a sophomore last year and will anchor the back row. Oliveira took over as setter last year and now has a good amount of playing time under his belt and will be ready to set the Stoughton offense in motion. Philemond will be one of the go-to options for Oliveira from her middle hitter spot, and she will also help set the tone defensively with her blocking.
Head coach Felicia Baptista, in her second overall season but first full Fall season, will be looking for some of the younger players to step up this year, including sophomore outside hitter Annalia Eschleman, sophomore outside hitter Maya Ashu, and freshman Angelina Barry, who will see some time as a defensive specialist.
“The fall 2021 season is one we are ready for,” Baptista said. “We are so happy that this season could go back to normal and start the fall season on time. Our program has worked hard all summer to make sure they were ready for August preseason this year. We have a large team this year and each one of them brings something different to the team which makes us that much stronger.”
2020 (Fall II) Record: 3-9
Coach: Toby Chaperon
Taunton won two of its first three matches in Fall II but only won once for the remainder of the season, as the Tigers went through the teeth of a loaded Kelley-Rex division. Taunton will have nine seniors on this year’s roster, many of which saw significant playing time last year, so there is hope that the Tigers can build on the experience of 2020 and be more consistent this fall.
The middle should be a strength for Taunton this season. Senior Mikayla Cleary and junior Hayley Krockta give the Tigers good size and athleticism both while attacking and defending. Senior Angie Lynch is a supreme athlete and has shown flashes of being a major weapon on the outside as she learns the nuances of the game and that position. Senior Dani Lofgren will be the libero. A good passer, Lofgren is another player that is growing into her role. Senior Jess Foley will help out defensively on the back row. Junior Anna Abouzeid is the new setter for the Tigers. Taunton coach Toby Chaperon said Abouzeid is athletic and has a good volleyball IQ and they are working on refining her play in the setter position.
Below are the official 2021 (Fall 2) Hockomock League Volleyball All Stars, selected by the coaches in the league.
Kelley-Rex Division MVP
Nicole Coughlan, King Philip
Kelley-Rex Division All Stars
Ana Leonardo, Attleboro
Ally Bonnet-Eymard, Franklin
Cailyn Mackintosh, Franklin
Nicole Coughlan, King Philip
Emma Brooks, King Philip
Ahunna James, King Philip
Olivia McGrath, Mansfield
Alina Nowakowski, Mansfield
Sarah Brogioli, Milford
Jaelyn Fernandez, Taunton
Davenport Division Co-MVPs
Liz Bickett, Canton
Sarah Fandel, Sharon
Davenport Division All Stars
Liz Bickett, Canton
Angie Elias, Canton
Shannon McDonald, Foxboro
Emma Keefe, Foxboro
Joanna Collins-Bilyeu, North Attleboro
Hadley Rhodes, Oliver Ames
Caroline Flynn, Oliver Ames
Sarah Morley, Oliver Ames
Sarah Fandel, Sharon
Brynne Aidlin-Perlman, Sharon
By HockomockSports.com Staff
Franklin junior Cailyn Mackintosh has been selected as the HockomockSports.com Player of the Week, presented by Morse Insurance, for April 11 through April 17. Mackintosh is the 19th player chosen as Player of the Week for the 2020-21 school year and sixth in the fall II season.
Mackintosh continued her stellar career as the Franklin setter, helping the Panthers win three times last week and bring home the first-ever Hock Cup title with a win against fellow league champion King Philip in the final. The reigning HockomockSports.com Underclassman of the Year was one of the top setters in the league this season, pushing the Panthers to a third straight Kelley-Rex title and an overall record of 12-1.
“Cailyn is a vital part to our team, we would not have had the season we did without her,” said first-year Franklin head coach Samantha Elliott. “She is strong and consistent in every part of the game, she always wants to improve and never settles. Cailyn has the ability to be a leader on and off the court which is why she is a junior captain.”
Heading into the Hock Cup as the top seed from the Kelley-Rex, the Panthers rolled into the final by sweeping North Attleboro and then sweeping Mansfield for the third time this season. Against the Rocketeers, she dished out 29 assists to go along with a kill and a block as Franklin won 3-0. In the third matchup against the Hornets, she had 31 assists, 10 digs, two aces, two kills, and a pair of blocks in the win.
In the final, Mackintosh kept the Panthers attack flying. She had 49 assists against the Warriors, moving the ball around to keep the KP block off-balance. Four Panthers finished with at least seven kills, led by Ally Bonnet-Eymard’s 22. Mackintosh also added a pair of blocks and 16 digs, contributing on the defensive side of the game as well.
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.
FRANKLIN, Mass. – After splitting two regular season matchups and sharing the Kelley-Rex division title for the second year in a row, it was fitting that the final game of the volleyball season would see Franklin and King Philip battle it out, not just for the bragging rights, or to win the season series, but also to being home the first Hockomock Cup title.
After jumping in front by winning the opening two sets, Franklin was nearly forced to a decisive fifth set but the Panthers rallied in the fourth, winning six of the final seven points, capped off by a cross-court spike by senior Ally Bonnet-Eymard that snuck inside the line, to seal a 3-1 (25-15, 25-21, 21-25, 25-21) victory.
“The girls never took a single day for granted,” said Franklin coach Samantha Elliott. “They have been 100 percent committed to play, so for them this wasn’t just the first Hock Cup, this was their championship and they’ve been working that way all season.”
KP coach Kristen Geuss was proud of her team’s fight back after a rough opening set and the way the Warriors fought throughout a final that everyone was grateful to see happen.
“I think we played very well,” she said. “To have the opportunity to even play an extra week in this whole thing, it gave us more games and let the girls come out and have fun for another week. We had a great season and they’re a great bunch of girls.”
Franklin took control of the opening set right from the first point. In a reverse of Wednesday’s semifinal against Canton, KP struggled out of the gate and the Panthers put together a 9-0 run to break things open and take a 19-6 lead.
Emma Chase (10 kills) had a block and then a kill on back-to-back points, Bonnet-Eymard (game-high 22 kills) fired a shot past the dive of KP libero Emma Brooks, Taylor Lacerda (seven kills) fired an ace, and then Bonnet-Eymard ended the run with a hit right on the line.
KP tried to build some momentum heading to the second. Giovanna Fruci and Sami Shore each had kills before Bonnet-Eymard picked the corner with an accurate swing. Nicole Coughlan and Ahunna James both got on the board as well with good hits, but the final swing hit the net and Franklin took the quick 1-0 lead.
“I had the confidence that we could come back,” said Geuss. “We have in the past. I thought we could dig deep and we did. The second and third games were much better obviously than the first and I thought they played really well.”
The Warriors did seem to carry some energy over into the second set and a Lily Carlow ace and a block and a kill by James put the visitors up 11-5. Brooks had a point from the back row and James added another of her five kills in the set to keep the lead at five points, but Franklin’s depth along the front line started to pay dividends.
Grace Lacerda, Chase, and Taylor Lacerda recorded three straight points and an angled Chase drive got Franklin back level. After the Panthers took the lead, Coughlan had two straight kills, including one at the end of a long rally that put KP back in front 19-18. Bonnet-Eymard answered with a pinpoint tip and a blast off the blocker.
“That’s the best thing about us, it’s not just Ally,” Elliott said. “Ally is a force to be reckoned with but it’s always every other girl on my team. (Setter) Cailyn [Mackintosh] has the ability to give it to anyone because people watch Ally so if you can give it to someone else it’s going to work out in your favor.”
“She has worked so hard to be as accurate and consistent and connect with every single one of our hitters that we wouldn’t be where we are without her drive and her leadership,” Elliott said about Mackintosh, who finished with 49 assists.
With Franklin up 23-21, Bonnet-Eymard again found space down the line off the dive of Carlow and a shot into the net had the Panthers just a set away from the win.
The last time these teams met, it went to five sets before KP pulled out the win. So, Franklin knew there was still work to be done. The Panthers jumped out to a 14-11 lead in the fourth following a Mackintosh push that eluded the KP defense.
KP responded with four straight points to get in front. With the score tied again at 17-17, KP managed to string together a few points. Fruci started it with a spike and then Coughlan was able to follow with back-to-back points. The senior, who managed to score from both outside positions as well as the middle, had eight kills in the third set alone.
“Nicole makes everything look easy, and it’s not,” Geuss said about Coughlan. “I don’t know how she does it but she makes everything look easy. She will be missed.”
After Bonnet-Eymard got one back for Franklin, Coughlan added two more kills. With the score 24-21, James, just a sophomore, showed off her skills on the outside with a powerful angled drive that secured a fourth set.
The fourth was back-and-forth with neither team able to build larger than a four-point lead. Coughlan and James continued to find any gap in the Franklin defense and the KP back row continued to keep almost every play alive, forcing the Panthers into long rallies.
KP looked like it might be on its way to a decisive fifth set when it rattled off five straight points and took a 12-8 lead. Bonnet-Eymard had the answer with back-to-back kills, the second smashed off the KP block and out. A kill from Lindsey Tarantola tied things up and then an ace by Meghan Linkkila put Franklin in front 13-12.
Shore got KP back within one at 17-16 but Chase came right back with a hit from the middle. James had a pair of kills, including one right off the line to put the Warriors up 19-18, then Carlow’s tough serve got away from the Panthers. Chase and Bonnet-Eymard came right back with kills and tied the set at 20-20.
After a Franklin point, James blasted another kill that tied the game at 21-21, but King Philip (11-2) had an uncharacteristic defensive lapse to put Franklin in front to stay. Brigid Earley followed with a big block, a shot went wide, and then Bonnet-Eymard lined up one last swing, angled across the court into an open spot, handing Franklin (12-1) the win and the cup.
“We knew that the first set was not normal, that we were going to have to work hard for every single point because KP is a fantastic team,” Elliott explained. “Just telling the girls to believe in themselves and to forget what this is and to have fun for their last game to play with each other that they’d be okay, and they were.”
CANTON, Mass. – King Philip got off to the perfect start to Wednesday night’s Hock Cup semifinal at Canton. The Warriors jumped out to a 14-2 lead and cruised to the win in the opening set. From that point on, nothing came easy, as the battle of league champions went back-and-forth over the next three sets and both teams had to grind out every point.
KP was able to use its strength at the net, led on the outside by sophomore Ahunna James and in the middle by senior Nicole Coughlan, to power past the Bulldogs. The Warriors won 3-1 (25-12, 27-29, 25-22, 25-20) and advance to Friday night’s final.
“I was surprised [at the start],” said KP coach Kristen Geuss, “but I certainly knew they were going to come back so I didn’t want us to let our guard down at that point because they’re such a good team.”
She added, “It gave us a little bit of confidence. It gave us that cushion so I think we were able to be a little more comfortable out there.”
Canton coach Pat Cawley credited her 10 seniors for their resilience and leading the team back after that very tough opening set.
“These 10 seniors who are graduating couldn’t be better people to be in the gym with every day,” she said. “Obviously we had a really slow start. Those other three sets, I couldn’t be more proud of my kids, the way they played. They gave it everything they had. They went all out.”
Nothing went right for the hosts at the start. Serve-receive was off, passing was off, hitting was off and KP took full advantage.
Coughlan had a pair of kills and a pair of blocks in the early going, Lily Carlow had a pair of aces, and James got off to a quick start with a pair of kills, as KP jumped all over the Bulldogs to build a 14-2 lead.
Canton tried to get some momentum going with good swings by Shannon Malloy and Angie Elias, but Sami Shore’s accurate tip, back-to-back points for Coughlan, and a kill from Giovanna Fruci put and end to any thoughts of a comeback. Coughlan was dominant and she closed out the set with a pinpoint tip, her seventh point in the first, to put KP up 1-0.
Liz Bickett smashed Canton into the lead to start the second set and the Bulldogs looked intent on making sure the match was not a sweep. Their defense improved, turning many of the points into long rallies. Steph Trendell and Nikki Desjardins were able to chase down everything on the back row and keep balls alive.
“I just feel good that my kids gave it everything they had, especially after losing the first set by so much,” said Cawley. “It’s hard to come back in volleyball after that. I just told them to forget it, we’re starting over, and they did. We battled.”
KP continued to be strong defensively as well, with libero Emma Brooks and Carlow prominent on the back row, and started to mix things up offensively, getting James more and more involved on the outside. She had seven kills in the second set alone.
“She’s only a sophomore, so I look forward to see what she can do in the future,” Geuss said of James. “Her and Nicole are definitely our weapons, but I think our setters (Lauren Peterson and Stella Bailey) are doing a good job moving the ball around a lot more than we have to kind of mix it up a little bit and keep their blockers off-balance a little bit.”
After Brooks found an open spot with a kill from the back row and Coughlan smashed another spike down the middle, KP had opened up a 14-8 lead and it looked like the Warriors may start to pull away. Instead, Canton stormed back with seven of the next eight points, including a kill for Bickett and block for Anna Verille, to tie the set at 15-15.
A James kill made it 20-17 but Canton forced a long rally capped by an Elias swing and neither side seemed able to grab momentum, as the atmosphere got as loud as any match this season. Shore had a hit called on the line, but Verille answered. Then Coughlan hit the end line with a kill but a diving dig by Desjardins kept a point alive for Elias to somehow find an open area with a bump.
Canton had the first set point after a Bickett block at 24-23 and her tip gave the Bulldogs another chance at 26-25, but first Coughlan then James had the answer. James saved another set point to tie it 27-27, but Sydney Gallery came off the bench for a big block and Elias hit the line for an ace to close out a 29-27 win for the hosts.
“They were super scrappy,” said Geuss in praise of Canton. “We had to work for every point. That was not an easy match.”
The Bulldogs coming back to win in the second set the stage for two more hard-fought sets in which neither team could put the other away.
KP took a 15-6 lead in the third, following another kill by Fruci, but Canton continued to fight, winning 10 of the next 13 points to get back within two. After a couple of errors, Elias had a block and two kills to make it 20-19. After another kill and a KP shot into the net, the Bulldogs had come all the way back to tie it at 21-21.
But, another pair of errors put KP back in front and the Warriors were able to put themselves on the brink of the final with kills from Camryn Buckley and Coughlan.
In the fourth set, KP again was able to put together a run and grab the lead. An 8-0 run, including a pair of Coughlan kills, put the Warriors up 14-8. Canton never got closer than four points the rest of the set.
Behind a pair of kills from James down the stretch and a block and two kills from Coughlan, KP was able to keep Canton at arm’s length, despite the best efforts of Elias and Bickett. It was fitting that Coughlan, the senior closed out the match with yet another big swing off the Canton block.
“I’m grateful that we had a season and I’m grateful that we could all hang in there so we could have the Hock Cup,” said Cawley. Canton finished the season at 10-2. She added, “It is a little taste of the postseason for them. We don’t really peak until the last 10 matches and this season you blink and it’s over and we’re just raring to go and find our way.”
King Philip (11-1) advances to the Hock Cup final to face Kelley-Rex co-champion Franklin. The teams split their two regular season matchups.
Geuss said, “We’re thrilled to be here. This was great competition for us and hopefully it will set us up for Friday. Hopefully it’s going be a good match and hopefully we show up to play the way we’ve been playing.”
The Warriors, the 2-seed out of the Kelley-Rex division, extended their unbeaten streak to seven straight matches with a convincing 3-0 (25-13, 25-18, 25-18) sweep of the Davenport 3-seed Oliver Ames in the first round of the Hockomock Cup. It’s the sixth straight sweep for King Philip.
Buoyed by the strong serving from Emma Brooks in the first two sets, the powerful swings and blocks at the net from Nicole Coughlan from start to finish, the reliable defense of Lily Carlow, the consistent sets from Lauren Peterson and Stella Bailey, and the timely plays from every other player that stepped onto the court, King Philip was strong in all facets of the game in a match they trailed just once, albeit briefly in the second set.
“They’re working really well as a team right now,” said King Philip head coach Kristen Geuss. “I’ve got a lot of depth on the team so in practice, when we play 6-on-6, it’s very competitive. We’ve got two good groups and at any given time, I have someone I can throw out there and they’ll do a great job. I think that helps us the most. They’re talking a lot more, I think they are just more comfortable being out there. We have half the games so we’ve had half the time to get up to speed.”
It was Brooks’ serving that created the separation for the hosts in each of the first two sets. With the Warriors and Tigers locked in close competition, Brooks stepped to the service line and it resulted in an 8-0 run in both sets, turning a close set into a comfortable lead for the Warriors. She had just one service error in 19 attempts.
“She’s got a good floater,” Geuss said “When it’s moving around like that, it’s tough to [receive] and for them to watch it hit their arms. There’s a lot of movement and she puts a lot of speed on it.”
When Brooks reached the service line in the opening set, KP had just taken an 11-9 lead after a kill from sophomore middle Sami Shore. Brooks had four straight serves that never came back over, including an ace on the fourth attempt. When OA did get it back over, a nice hit from senior Camryn Buckley gave KP a 16-9 lead and forced the visitors into a timeout.
Coughlan smashed a kill out of the timeout to keep the run going and two more strong serves never made it back over; a net violation on KP finally ended the run but the hosts held a 19-9 lead. Carlow (ace) and James (block) put the finishing touches on the set to take a 1-0 lead with a 25-13 decision.
The second set played out similarly, OA getting early points on good serves from sophomore Maddie Homer, a kill from Jordan Bennett, and a nice tip on the second touch from junior setter Hadley Rhodes. KP kept pace with a nice kill off the block from James and another good hit from Coughlan that OA couldn’t get back over.
A serving mistake put Brooks on the line for King Philip with an 11-10 lead and by the time she rotated out, the Warriors turned that small advantage into a 19-10 lead. During that run, Brooks had a pair of aces, Coughlan had a kill and two block kills, and Bailey caught the OA defense with a pass over the net on the second touch.
Coughlan and James both had good swings down the stretch and the Warriors clinched a 2-0 lead on a kill from Buckle to take the second set, 25-18.
“They kind of figured out what we were doing so I give them credit, they came back at us but I think our serving really helped us,” Geuss said. “Our serving was really consistent. Emma had a great run of serves, and when our serves are on, we’re more confident. We’ve been playing well, hopefully we’re on a roll and we’ll continue to play well. The competition is only getting better and better so we just have to rise to the competition but the girls are having fun right now.“
A kill from Coughlan started the final set, Peterson and Carlow each had an ace early, and Shore fooled the defense with a perfectly weighted tip over the block. King Philip led from start to finish in the third set and got some big swings from James down the stretch to ice the win.
King Philip volleyball (10-1) is set to travel to top-seeded Canton, who won yet another Davenport division title this season, on Wednesday at 5:30. Oliver Ames will play in a consolation game on Wednesday.