King Philip, 3 @ Attleboro, 0 – Final – King Philip went on the road and picked up a sweep, 3-0 (25-12, 25-16, 25-12), over the Bombardiers. Nicole Coughlan paced the offense for the Warriors with 10 kills and a pair of aces while Giovanna Fruci and Ahunna James each chipped in with six kills apiece. Lily Carlow had a strong day at the service line with six aces.
Oliver Ames, 0 @ Canton, 3 – Final – Canton inched closer to another division title with its second sweep of Oliver Ames this week, this time knocking off the Tigers 3-0 (25-13, 25-15, 25-16). Both Liz Bickett (7 kills, 4 blocks and 10 digs) and Angie Elias (7 kills, 4 aces and 9 digs) had solid all-around outings while Talya DeGraw and Anna Verille both played strong at the net. Jackie Morrissey and Taylor Reynolds combined for 20 assists and ran the court well. For OA, Sarah Morley registered 23 serve receptions, 10 digs, and two aces, Hadley Rhodes added 14 assists, and Caroline Flynn finished with 12 digs.
NORTH EASTON, Mass. – Canton has been searching for the right lineup combination all season. Based on its performance in Monday evening’s battle of Davenport co-leaders in the Nixon Gym, it seems the Bulldogs might have finally found their best rotations.
The Bulldogs put together a complete performance, never trailing until late in the third set, and never allowing Oliver Ames to build momentum and get into the match. Canton won 3-0 (25-22, 25-23, 25-23) and now has a one-game lead on the Tigers with three matches left in the season.
“We always try to get off to a good start,” said Canton coach Pat Cawley. “Whether you can or you can’t, it depends on the day. It’s a lot easier to play when you’re ahead and that was to our benefit but we did let them catch up in the second set and again in the third. To the kids’ credit they did buckle down and get it done.”
Canton showed off a balanced attack to build a lead in the first set. Liz Bickett (11 kills and 17 digs) had back-to-back hits to put the Bulldogs in front 10-7. After Caroline Flynn’s kill got OA back within two, the Bulldogs kept winning rallies, got an ace from Taylor Reynolds and pushed the lead to as many as five (15-10).
A block by freshman Sarah Hilliard and an ace from Amanda Barth kept the Tigers hanging around, but a pair of kills from outside hitter Anna Verille extended the lead back to four. Back-to-back blocks by Hadley Rhodes (21 assists and seven kills) and Tori Harneyy and then a tip by Flynn (11 kills) tied things up at 19-19.
Just when it looked like OA might be able to steal the first set, Canton ran off four straight, including an accurate tip by setter Jackie Morrissey and a big swing from Angie Elias (14 kills). Elias sealed the 1-0 lead with a well-placed tip, her fifth point of the first.
The visitors seemed to carry over the momentum into the second, continuing to win the battles at the net, led by Elias, Bickett, and Sydney Gallery (seven kills), who stepped into the middle in the absence of Shannon Malloy and had an impressive match on both sides of the ball. Her tip put the Bulldogs up 10-5.
“Syd’s first time playing middle and she did a great job,” said Cawley. “We didn’t even get to practice with her in the middle.”
Flynn capped a long rally with a cross-court kill, but Elias answered back with two of the next three points for an 18-11 lead. Down 20-13 and in danger of falling behind by two sets, OA managed to fight back and won nine of the next 11 points to tie it up at 22-22.
“We’ve made it interesting, but I want to make it count,” said OA coach Chelsea Cunningham. “Our lineup changes every single game, but it builds opportunities for everyone on the team, which I appreciate, and their willingness to try and give it their all.”
The Tigers were playing better defense in that stretch, although a block by Talya DeGraw and an ace by Nikki Desjardins slowed the comeback. Hilliard came through with another block in the middle and Harney found an angle for a big swing. An ace by Sarah Morley (23 digs) and quick tip by Rhodes tied the set and then Jordan Bennett made it 23-23 with a kill.
Again, the visitors had an answer. Bickett restored the lead with a tip down the line and then closed out the second with a kill to put the Bulldogs in control.
Cawley said, “I thought our ball control today was excellent. I thought our defense did a great job. We focused on being there to block, but I think our offense kept their defense off-balance. That’s a credit to our defense, which got the ball to our setter so we could put pressure on their defense.”
The familiar pattern continued in the third set, as Canton jumped out in front again. Down 14-8, OA started to climb back into it, following an ace by Alexandra Zwerle and a block by Courtney Raymond. Elias answered with an ace and the Bulldogs remained in front 16-12. The Tigers rolled off six of the next seven points to grab their first lead of the match.
Raymond added an ace to her earlier block and Flynn had a big swing on the outside. Bennett added another kill and OA led 21-19 in the third, looking to try and extend the match.
“These games are what will make us stronger,” said Cunningham. “They’re fighting. I get to give other kids the opportunity to play and they’re feisty. Them taking those risks definitely helps ignite a little bit of energy our team needs right now.”
Canton just seemed to make the big plays when it needed and found any openings in the OA defense. Verille dropped a shot in between a few Tigers and Bickett scored with a block to tie the set. Raymond had a kill to tie things back up at 23-23, but the Bulldogs won the final two points to seal the match.
“Their coverage was fantastic,” Cunningham added, “and that challenges us because we’re suffering on coverage right now. We’ve just got to bounce back. Hopefully it will be a quick turnaround.”
The Bulldogs have now won four straight after being swept by Sharon. Cawley saw that match as a good reminder to her team about how little separates the teams in the Davenport this season.
“Every loss is a learning experience,” she explained. “Last year we lost twice to North and I think it was the best thing for us to understand that you can lose. Every team out there is good and you can’t take anyone for granted. We’re not above the rest of the competition at all, we’re right there with everyone.”
Canton (6-1) will host Oliver Ames (5-2) on Wednesday looking to move one step closer to a 14th league title in the past 15 seasons.
SHARON, Mass. – When the final serve hit the net and dropped to the court, the Sharon players started to celebrate, clapped a little, and then calmly walked over to the sidelines. Maybe they didn’t realize just how rare it was for the Eagles to earn a win against Canton.
Sharon took control in the opening set and never let go, sweeping Monday night’s match 25-13, 25-19, 25-17 to stay unbeaten this season. It was the first win for the Eagles against the Bulldogs, who have won 13 of the last 14 league titles, since at least 2002. (Records aren’t definite for the 2002 season, but Sharon beat Canton at least once in 2001, the Bulldogs’ first season as a varsity program.)
Not only did the Eagles win, but they were the better team in all facets of the game. Senior hitter Sara Fandel gave Sharon a constant outlet on the outside and, even without Sara’s twin sister Leah, the Eagles dominated play at the net. Brynne Aidlin-Pearlman added a second hitter and setters Yvette Nau and Sonya Gray consistently delivered the ball to the right spots.
“If it was only Sara, then I’d be like, okay we have this one amazing player, but everybody is just falling in,” said Sharon coach Andrea Lovett. “I don’t know if she’s bringing them up to her level? Brynne is super strong with what she’s doing. It’s just so exciting to see it.”
The Eagles got off to a quick start, leading 4-1 in the opening set, but Canton rallied with a pair of Angie Elias kills to grab an 8-7 lead and it looked like usual service was restored. Sharon got an ace from Savannah Gray and a point from Nau to restore the lead and then a pair of kills by Fandel, the second after a long rally, put Sharon ahead 13-10.
After Canton had tied the set at 9-9, Sharon won 16 of the next 20 points to take a lead in the match. Fandel had six kills and an ace and Erin Schustek added a point during the run. The Bulldogs had no response.
“[Fandel] was amazing and we just didn’t have an answer,” admitted Canton coach Pat Cawley. “We’re still trying to figure ourselves out after losing our outside hitters and they brought it to us. Volleyball is all about passing and we couldn’t pass the ball tonight and it all broke down from there. They deserve all the credit, they put the pressure on us.”
In the second set, Sharon had an early lead, but tips by Sydney Gallery and Liz Bickett put Canton up 9-8. Elias and Bickett followed with kills, sandwiched around a big hit by Aidlin-Pearlman to make it 12-9. That would be the largest lead for Canton in any set in the match.
Sharon stormed back with eight straight points before a bump by Nikki Desjardins dropped in for a point. The Eagles never trailed again in the match. Fandel smashed a cross-court kill and Schustek served an ace to make it 23-14. Elias had back-to-back kills but the Eagles never lost their composure and Aidlin-Pearlman smashed a kill down the line to seal the set.
“It’s a ton of confidence,” Lovett said about the impact of having strong hitters on the outside. “Between Sara and Brynne and Leah when she gets back, it’s the same story. They know, I can play full speed because if I make a mistake then I have five people who can cover for me. They know that and it makes them really good.”
The Bulldogs were hoping to regroup and build some momentum in the third set, but the Eagles never let off the gas. Sharon won the first seven points of the third and Canton wasn’t able to get any closer than five points in what turned out to be the final set.
Fandel was again the spark with six kills in the third, but it was an all-around effort that kept the Eagles in front. Libero Emily Rubenstein, Nau, and Gray were all excellent defensively and Aidlin-Pearlman was able to defend and score from the net or the back line.
“That’s normally our weakness,” Lovett said, “but their serve-receive was excellent tonight. I tell them all the time, that makes all the difference. You can’t do any of this without a good serve-receive.”
Gray stepped up with a big point to make it 19-10 and Nau seemed to shock ever herself with a big block that made it 23-15.
Canton tried to hang around, but struggled to get the ball to Bickett in the middle or Elias on the outside. Anna Verille had a kill and Jackie Morrissey had a bump drop in front of the Sharon defense for a point at 21-15 but the Bulldogs never looked like getting back into it.
“We couldn’t block them, we couldn’t dig them,” said Cawley. “They deserve all the credit in the world. I thought Angie played great the whole match but other than that we got in a hole early and we don’t have the confidence [to come back].”
After the win, Sharon (3-0) is now tied with Oliver Ames atop the Davenport division and Lovett is sure that her team will be ready to go on Wednesday when the Eagles visit Canton (2-1) for the rematch.
“This group of kids, especially our seniors, are really centered on volleyball,” Lovett explained, “and I think that I would normally be like, oh god we’re probably going to come back and do terrible on Wednesday because we’re over-confident, but I don’t think they’re that type of kids. They know that it can change at any minute, so let’s get out there.”