Below are the official 2018 Hockomock League Volleyball All Stars, selected by the coaches in the league.
Hockomock League MVP
Lauren McGrath, Franklin
Hockomock League All Stars
Chelsea Calcagni, Attleboro
Nicole Brown, Canton
Erin Devine, Canton
Megan McDonough, Canton
Grace Boudreau, Foxboro
Lauren McGrath, Franklin
Riley Marino, Franklin
Ellie Wisniewski, Franklin
Catherine Waldeck, King Philip
Greenly Kelly, Mansfield
Sydney Sutton, Milford
Tatiana Sotelo, North Attleboro
Hayley Gaskin, North Attleboro
Sadie Homer, Oliver Ames
Allison Kemp, Oliver Ames
Jade Veth, Sharon
Hanna Holden, Stoughton
Molly Turner, Stoughton
McKenzie Lucie, Taunton
Anastasia Leonardo, Attleboro
Julia Minichiello, Canton
Pam Nelson, Foxboro
Margaret Doyle, Franklin
Nicole Coughlan, King Philip
Emily Dardinski, Mansfield
Nina Pinto, Milford
Kylie Melanson, North Attleboro
Jordan Bosse, Oliver Ames
Abby Fine, Sharon
Delaney Nagel, Stoughton
Kamila Cuevas, Taunton
The Panthers, who secured the Central-West sectional title in a dramatic five-set win, push the Raiders, champions of the South sectional, to the limit. But ultimately, Barnstable made one final run to come away with a 3-0 (25-17, 25-22, 25-23) win and a return trip to the D1 State Final.
“I couldn’t really ask for more,” said first-year Franklin head coach Kelsey Weymouth. “They knew they’d have to be matched up with [Barnstable] eventually so why not the state semifinals? We prepared them the best we could for them, and for [Barnstable outside hitter] Riley James. We knew blocking was going to be key today, and we had some really good moments for our blocks, we just needed a little bit more. But honestly, what the girls did, how hard they worked, I couldn’t ask for anything more.”
The Raiders are a perennial power in the state, having won the D1 State title 13 times since 2000 and entered Tuesday night’s match without having lost a single set this year. While that didn’t change, Franklin gave Barnstable its toughest test of the season and scored more points (62) against the Raiders than any other team has in 2018.
“They are a good team,” said Barnstable head coach Tom Turco of the Panthers. “They have quick, fast athletes and they have nine seniors. We haven’t been pressed like that [this season]. We’ve played a lot of really good teams and they are one of them.”
Barnstable skated to a win in the South Sectional Final, beating New Bedford 25-3, 25-8, 25-16. It didn’t take long to see that Franklin was going to be a much bigger challenge.
Each time the Raiders tried to pull away in the first set, Franklin stuck around. Kills from Ellie Wisniewski, Allyson Bonnet-Eymard, and Hailey Sanders each answered a point from Barnstable to keep the deficit at three. Barnstable built a six point lead at 16-10, but a 4-1 run from the Panthers again made the lead three points.
But Barnstable senior Riley James, the state’s all-time leader in kills, showed off her skill. She had four kills (in the final eight points, giving the Raiders a 1-0 lead. James finished with a season-high 24 kills in the match.
Franklin continued to battle in the second set, with six ties over the first 16 points, including at 8-8. Barnstable attempted to pull away at 12-9 but Franklin responded with a 4-1 run to knot the score at 13, getting a big kill from Maggie Doyle.
The Panthers got a nice kill from Wisniewski from the back row after a nice dig from Riley Marino to pull within one at 18-17 but were forced to call timeout when the Raiders won the next point. Barnstable went up 22-19 on a kill from Ingrid Murphy (16 kills) but Sanders landed a kill from the middle to get within two. After Barnstable went back up by three, the Panthers forced a hitting error to make it a two pint game again.
But once again, James was in the front row when the Raiders needed her most and she had two kills over the final three points to put Barnstable up 2-0.
“We wanted to have four hands on [James] at all times,” Weymouth said, We wanted two girls to block her wherever she went. We were right there…right there. But it is what it is, the girls worked so hard, they did great.
Barnstable went up 3-0 early in the third set but Franklin refused to fold. Franklin won seven of the next eight points to seize a 7-4 lead, highlighted by kills from Doyle, Sanders and Bonnet-Eymard — all on assists from senior Lauren McGrath.
Franklin kept its lead, and stretched it to 14-10 on a big block from senior Lily Galluccio to force Turco to take a timeout. The Panthers let Barnstable back in the game with three errors over the next four points to knot the score.
But Bonnet-Eymard sandwiched a pair of kills around a nice kill from McGrath to give Franklin a 19-16 lead, and again forcing a timeout from the Raiders.
The Panthers led 22-19 after a kill from Doyle, and 23-21 after a service error from the Raiders, and were on the verge of giving Barnstable its first set loss of the season. Franklin’s Doyle and Sanders found a lot of success attacking from the middle spot.
“We knew coming that [Barnstable] wasn’t very effective from the middle,” Weymouth said. “Our middles were super effective I thought. You can only run your offense so well if your serve receive is in system. There were times when we wanted to run the middle but the serve receive was a little off and we were forced to go outside. But our middles were huge, they were unstoppable when they were swinging. I’m so proud of these girls for making it this far.”
A kill from Murphy and a Franklin hitting error tied the game, and Murphy used a perfectly place push just over the net for the final point and the win.
Franklin volleyball finishes the season at 20-1.
By HockomockSports.com Staff
Franklin senior Lauren McGrath has been selected as the HockomockSports.com Player of the Week, presented by Morse Insurance, for Nov. 4 through Nov. 10. McGrath is the 10th player chosen as Player of the Week for the 2018-19 school year.
McGrath, a senior setter, was the key piece for a Franklin team that won three tournament games this week, all in five sets, to claim the Div. 1 Central/West title. It was the first sectional title in program history and McGrath was the fulcrum for the Panthers attack, spreading the ball around to Franklin’s array of attacking options, including a program-record 55 assists in the tournament opener against Concord-Carlisle.
“Over these past three playoff games, she has given me 110% for every single ball,” said Franklin head coach Kelsey Weymouth. “She works hard every point to get her feet to the ball. Being the player who never comes out of the game, her head always needs to be in it and over the past few games her drive and passion have reflected on her teammates and it’s awesome to see.”
On Sunday, second-seeded Franklin avoided an upset bid from No. 10 Concord-Carlisle in a dramatic five-set victory. The Panthers won the opening two sets comfortable, but the Patriots battled back with narrow wins in sets three and four. Franklin pulled out a 15-13 win in the fifth. McGrath sparked the Franklin attack with a program record 55 assists.
On Wednesday, the Panthers bounced back from a 2-0 deficit on the road at No. 3 Hopkinton, winning the final three sets, including 15-11 in the fifth, to advance to the program’s second sectional final. McGrath led the way with 42 assists, her second most this year. On Saturday evening, McGrath and the Panthers jumped out to a 2-0 lead against No. 4 Shrewsbury, only to be forced into a fifth set for the third straight match. McGrath (38 assists) was outstanding again for the Panthers, picking the right hitter for each situation, especially during a dominant 15-5 fifth set. McGrath was second in the league with 426 assists during the regular season.
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.
In three postseason games, Franklin has gone to five sets all three times and has won all three of them.
That pattern held again in the Div. 1 Central/West final on Saturday evening at Wellesley High. Franklin cruised through the first two sets, demonstrating why the Panthers are still unbeaten, but then Shrewsbury rallied to win two straight and force a decisive final set. Franklin jumped out early to win the fifth set 15-5 and secure the program’s first-ever sectional title.
“You just have to work harder than the girls on the other side of the net, just want it, and I think it showed in the fifth set that they wanted it,” said first-year Franklin coach Kelsey Weymouth. “I’m beyond proud.”
Junior setter Lauren McGrath said, “We always have the energy but sometimes we doubt ourselves and we have to pick ourselves back up. We really proved that tonight in the fifth set; we came out strong.”
When asked how she felt to be the first Franklin team to win a sectional title, McGrath replied, “Amazing, I can’t even think right now. I’m blown away.”
Franklin was on a roll at the start of the match. The Panthers took their first lead at 8-7 of the opening set and never relinquished it, winning 25-22 to get the early advantage in the final. Defensively, the Panthers were tenacious, led by libero RRiley Marino, and didn’t allow the Colonials to find any rhythm.
“She’s a little spitball of fire,” Weymouth said of Marino. “Riley is probably one of the best defensive girls that I’ve seen in high school. She hustles every single ball, she’s always talking, she is always moving. Her heart is always in it.”
The dominant play continued in the second set, as Franklin took the lead at 9-8 and carried the lead all the way to a 25-21 win. Shrewsbury was struggling to keep up with the balance in the Panthers attack, which featured streaks from a number of hitters, including five kills in the second from Ellie Wisniewski and strong hitting in the middle from Maggie Doyle and Hailey Sanders.
The key to the Franklin attack was McGrath, who not only spread the ball around to all the hitters but always seemed to make the right decision as to who had the hot hand or who had the best look to beat the defense.
Weymouth said, “Lauren is good enough that she’ll put the ball to whoever is on. She does a very good job of spreading out the offense and knowing what time is right to go to what player.”
McGrath was asked how it feels to have so many weapons at her disposal as a setter and she responded, “It is the greatest thing in my life. I always get so excited. It’s awesome.”
Everything was going to plan for the Panthers until the start of the third set. It was as though a switch had been flipped and suddenly it was Shrewsbury dominating, the Colonials that never allowed a ball to hit the floor, and hitting every seam.
Franklin kept it close at first, trailing only 7-5, but then the Colonials rattled off five straight points to take control of the set. Peyton Arone subbed in for the Panthers to give the briefest of sparks, but Shrewsbury kept adding to its lead and won the set 25-17.
Any hope of the fourth set being different was put to rest quickly, as Shrewsbury raced out to a 9-2 lead. Serve-receive was a struggle, the Colonials were contesting every hit, and the Panthers couldn’t stem the momentum. Twice with Franklin hanging around, down by a handful of points, the teams put together long rallies filled with digs and great plays, but each time it was the Colonials that ended up with the point.
After Shrewsbury won the fourth 25-15, Weymouth gathered the team to refocus it on the task at hand – being the first to 15 points in the fifth. Whatever was said in that huddle seemed to work.
When the final set started, it was the Panthers from the start of the match that took the floor. Franklin pulled ahead 5-0 behind solid serving by Wisniewski and a kill from Allyson Bonnet-Eymard. Back-to-back kills by Doyle were followed by back-to-back kills by Lily Gallucio and a kill from Sanders. Suddenly it was 10-1 and it was Shrewsbury struggling to find any momentum.
“Having that first one under our belt gave them the confidence that we can do it,” said Weymouth. “I know going into a fifth set that we can do it. It was all on them.”
Wisniewski set up match point with a kill and Doyle finished it off with one of her own. The Panthers won the fifth set, the match, and the championship at a gallop.
Franklin (20-0) will advance to the state semifinal and will host perennial state power Barnstable.
Weymouth never won a sectional title as a player during a standout career at North Attleboro. The closest that she came was as a junior, when the Rocketeers lost to Barnstable in the South final. Although it is a different experience as a coach, she is enjoying every minute.
“It feels pretty great,” she explained. “I had been in their shoes and I wanted it for them. It’s huge and they deserve it more than anything.”
Facing a team widely considered the best in the state is a challenge, but McGrath is relishing the chance to show that Franklin belongs in the conversation.
“It’s the craziest thing,” she said. “We want it so bad. At the beginning of the season, we knew we’d be that strong team and we’re going to go out there and prove that we’re a damn good team.”
WELLESLEY, Mass. – Momentum is a key to any high school volleyball match. Teams build up confidence and go on scoring runs, which is amplified when that run closes out a critical fourth set and keeps a season alive.
Groton-Dunstable went on that type of run in the Div. 2 Central final on Saturday afternoon at Wellesley High, winning nine of the last 11 points to pull out the fourth set 25-19 and force a decisive final set. The momentum from that run to keep the season alive, helped the Crusaders take control of the fifth and deny Canton its first sectional title since 2012.
The Crusaders won the fifth set 15-7, including eight of the last nine points, to beat the Bulldogs 3-2 (20-25, 25-14, 16-25, 25-19, 15-7) and claim the Central title.
“It’s a game of momentum, but unfortunately in the end they had the momentum,” said Canton coach Pat Cawley. “They did carry it over [from the fourth set] and we didn’t have an answer for it. We played a little tight on serve-receive…we didn’t get our offense going at all.”
Canton got off to a strong start to the match in a back-and-forth opening set. Despite dealing with the strong hitting and blocking abilities of Crusaders star Lily Blodgett, the Bulldogs were able to get into a groove with Taylor Harris and Theresa O’Brien on the outside. The five-point edge that Canton ended the set with was the largest lead for either team in the first.
Groton-Dunstable answered right back with a dominant second set. Blodgett was in total control and had the Bulldogs out of sorts at the start, particularly middle hitter Erin Devine, who had a couple of hits blocked in the first and had to be creative to get good looks.
“She (Blodgett) blocked her a lot, but I was proud of Erin because she scored a lot of points in different ways,” Cawley said.
Devine and the Bulldogs bounced right back in the third and had their strongest set of the match. Devine got things started with a kill and then Harris added two on the outside, as Canton jumped in front 10-2. After the Crusaders cut the lead to five points, Harris again found a hole in the G-D defense for a big points and a 12-6 lead.
Everything seemed to be working for the Bulldogs in the third. Olivia Chinsen and libero Megan McDonough each had an ace, Rose Hazam came off the bench and was able to scramble a ball over the net that dropped in for a point, Bailey Shea had a kill in the middle, and Liz Bickett snagged a point for Canton as well.
The fourth set was also back-and-forth, as the two teams were within no more than three points of each other until the final stretch. Groton-Dunstable built an early 6-3 lead, but Canton answered right back with kills from Shea and Harris. Harris also earned a point with a block and setter Nicole Brown (who Cawley called the “glue of the team”) stepped up to the net for a block that made it 11-10.
With the score tied at 16-16, the Bulldogs won the type of point that had its fans thinking the trophy was heading to Canton. After a long rally between the teams, Harris managed to dig a tough hit, Brown hustled to keep the play alive and then McDonough not only bumped the ball back across the net from outside the court but also saw it drop in for the point and the lead.
G-D looked unfazed, winning the next three points to regain the advantage and force a Canton timeout. The set was closed out on back-to-back aces by Crusaders libero Peter White, who was a defensive stalwart for the Groton-Dunstable back line.
“Obviously, they didn’t let the ball fall on their side, so they could run their offense,” Cawley explained. “Their defense was better than just about any we faced this season.”
The fifth and deciding set started out even, with the teams trading the first six points. After a pair of Crusaders kills, Harris stepped up and found space down the line to make it 5-4. Carolyn Mullins, who stepped up in the middle when Blodgett was on the bench, had a kill and a block to extend the lead.
A kill from Shea and a mishit got Canton back within one and gave the Bulldogs hope that they could turn things around, but three straight points, including a pair of aces from White, put the Crusaders in the driver’s seat.
“We hung in their in the first half of the fifth set and then we had some trouble with serve-receive and we just couldn’t get out of it,” said Cawley.
Canton’s struggles with serve-receive continued down the stretch as the Crusaders won two more service points before Blodgett put an exclamation point on her night with one final kill to seal the championship.
“I couldn’t be prouder of my team tonight,” Cawley said. “None of them had played in the tournament before. This was the first time for every single one of them. Their growth from last year to this year has been amazing.”
For Canton (19-3), this was an impressive bounce back year. The Bulldogs regained their spot atop the Davenport division and reached the sectional final through a complete team effort.
Cawley said, “It was big growth in their confidence level as well as their skill level. They put all out there and it just didn’t go our way.”
She added, “I carried 18 kids on my team and I can honestly say for the first time ever all 18 of them I could put in there and feel confident. Every day someone new stepped up.”