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.”
WRENTHAM, Mass. – The King Philip volleyball team is clicking on all cylinders at the right time.
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.
King Philip volleyball
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.
There is a new level of excitement in the gymnasium at Attleboro High as Mary Katherine Runey takes over as the varsity coach for the Bombardiers.
Attleboro has a mix of returners with experience and new faces to the varsity level, and Runey believes her squad has a tremendous amount of potential. It all starts with senior Ana Leonardo, a four-year starter at the setter position for the Bombardiers. Attleboro has plenty of depth at the setter position with freshman Natalie Brojek joining the mix right away. Leonardo and Brojek will have some experienced hitters to work with including senior opposite Krista Greening, senior middle Kosi Igbobi, and junior outside Delia Barthel. Junior captain Lilly Boedeker brings a lot of energy and experience to the defensive end as the libero, anchoring the Bombardiers’ back row.
“Our program is very excited to be back on the court,” Runey said. “We have a great mix of returning players as well as athletes new to the varsity level. I believe our team has a tremendous amount of potential, and I cannot wait to see what we accomplish this year. Ana and Natalie will certainly bring an intensity to our offense and Lilly matches that defensively.”
2019 Record: 22-3 (Davenport Division Champions) 2019 Finish: Division 2 State Champions Coach: Pat Cawley
The 2019 season was a banner year for the Bulldogs, claiming the Davenport division, the D2 Central sectional crown, and the program’s first ever D2 State Championship.
The returners have been eager to defend their championships, and after waiting just a little bit longer, the Bulldogs have their chance to at least battle for another Hock title. There’s an obvious void in the lineup with the graduation of HockomockSports.com Player of the Year Taylor Harris, one of the most feared hitters in the entire state. But longtime head coach Pat Cawley has an arsenal of weapons at her disposal that makes Canton the team to beat again this year. Senior middle Liz Bickett gets it done both offensively and defensively at the net and is a reliable option in the back row. Senior outside hitter Angie Elias is a reliable option at the net as well as senior middle Shannon Malloy. Senior Jackie Morrissey stepped into the setter role last year and really improved as the season went on while classmate Olivia Chinsen, a captain, is another option at setter after returning from injury. Seniors Nikki Desjardins (libero) and Stephanie Trendell will anchor the Bulldogs’ defense in the back row.
“We are excited and grateful to be back on the court,” Cawley said. “Although we have big shoes to fill at the outside hitter positions, we return several experienced players at middle blocker, setter, and defense. Senior captain Olivia Chinsen and junior Sydney Gallery are back from season-ending injuries and will help make us a stronger team. We are concentrating on building better chemistry and communication, always striving to be the best we can be!”
2019 Record: 11-10 2019 Finish: Reached D2 Central First Round Coach: Vicki Santana
In head coach Vicki Santana’s first year in charge, the Warriors won 11 games and reached the postseason and Foxboro will hope to build on that momentum this season with 10 seniors on the roster.
Defensively, the Warriors should be tough. Kelsey Treweek returns at libero along with defensive specialists Pam Nelson and Grace Fortune. Nelson and Treweek were among the league leaders in digs in the 2019 season. Leading hitter Grace Boudreau graduated, but Santana is counting on several players to provide points with versatile hitters Emma Keefe and Shannon McDonald in the starting lineup. Underclassmen Sami Sloan and Mallorie Meyer will add depth at the net and have the potential to provide an instant impact
“Tryouts and practice were a little bit of a challenge to make sure we are following the Covid guidelines while still having fun and being competitive,” Santana said. “The girls have been so great and are staying positive through all of this. They are taking all of the guidelines seriously because they are so happy to be back in the gym!”
Franklin is coming off back-to-back Kelley-Rex division titles and is in search of their third straight this season, but will be doing so under new guidance. Sam Elliott takes over as head coach of the Panthers after Kelsey Weymouth moved on to the collegiate level after two successful years at the helm.
Elliott is familiar with the program after serving as an assistant last season and she knows she has the pieces to make a push to hang another division title banner in this abbreviated season. Senior captain Ally Bonnet-Eymard enters her fourth year with the team and is among the most dangerous hitters in the league (205 kills) from the left side. She’ll be flanked by senior Emma Chase, who is back for her second straight year starting at middle and gives Franklin a weapon both offensively and defensively. Junior Cailyn Mackintosh really impressed in her first season last year and will be the starting setter while Jill Benoit returns as the starting libero. Elliott is also looking for some younger faces to push for time including sophomore Meghan Linkkila and freshmen Taylor Lacerda and Grace Lacerda.
“We are excited to have the opportunity to play this year, with six seniors it is important that they were able to have their final season,” Elliott said. “As a program we are excited to compete and improve, our group is a mix of returners and new players so it will be fun watching them all come together.”
There will be a lot of familiar faces on the court this season for King Philip, who is looking to ride a strong senior class and an experienced group of players to a second straight Kelley-Rex crown.
Head coach Kristen Guess has weapons all over the court, starting with her three senior captains. Middle Nicole Coughlan has been a force at the net for the past two years and will be one of the toughest players to stop this year. Fellow captains Emma Brooks and Lily Carlow, who both have a lot of experience at the varsity level will anchor the Warriors’ defense from the back row. Senior Giovanna Fruci will be one of KP’s top options at the net as well as sophomore Ahunna James, who had some impressive swings in limited action last year. Guess is looking for seniors Paige Kannally and Camryn Buckley to step up and help with blocking at the net while senior Lauren Peterson will set the entire team in motion from the setter position. Junior Stella Bailey and sophomore Sami Shore have played well in preseason and should be in the mix as well.
“This the most experienced team I have coached, we have depth on the team with strong newcomers,” Guess said.
We are excited to have a season and are ready to play.”
2019 Record: 8-11 2019 Finish: Missed playoffs Coach: Mark Ledwich
Longtime head coach Melissa Heeden stepped down over the offseason so the Hornets enter this season under the guidance of their new head coach Mark Ledwich. Ledwich is familiar with volleyball in the area as the director of the sport at Mass Premier Courts and brings experience from the collegiate level to the job.
Ledwich has an experienced group to work with during his first year with six players back from last year’s team, most of which saw either starting or at least valuable minutes at the varsity level. The Hornets will have a variety of weapons on the offensive end with its top four attackers back from last year. Junior Julia Kelly (124 kills) led the squad in kills as a sophomore and will be one of the most dangerous hitters in the league this year while Alina Nowakowski, Olivia McGrath, and Kacey Veiking all provide legitimate threats at the net. All four will start the Hornet defense will their blocking with Veiking (35 blocks) among the top returners in that category.
“Our focus this season is on error management and when to stretch a point,” Ledwich said. “We have a lot of heavy hands this year, so knowing when to utilize them in each situation has been a huge focus of the pre-season. With the consistent height we have available in the front row this season we are spending a lot of time discussing approach paths of opposing attackers and how we should funnel each attack to best utilize our attacking strengths.”
2019 Record: 10-10 2019 Finish: Reached D2 Central First Round Coach: Tammy Webber
The Hawks have reached the postseason in each of the past two seasons, and while there isn’t a state tournament this year, Milford is aiming to attain the success that comes with a playoff berth.
Making the switch to the Kelley-Rex will be challenging, but one the Hawks are ready for. With a strong mix of returning players with varsity experience and some new players looking to make a splash, Milford could surprise some teams along the way. Elise Fauerbach returns for her senior season after missing significant time last year due to an injury. Fauerbach will patrol the right side, giving the Hawks a good option defensively with her size, and has a high volleyball IQ. Milford has two key defensive players back with senior Eva Parson (106 digs), who took on the role of libero last season but is in the mix to step into the full rotation, even getting swings as an outside hitter. Junior Sarah Brogioli can play just about anywhere on the court, a reliable option in the back row (106 digs) while also capable of stepping up to the net and connecting on some big swings (96 kills). Lexi Stark is an athletic option at middle that can move side-to-side to help with blocking in all three spots at the net. Sophomore Emily Crouteau is penciled into the setter role to start the year while Aliza Syed will be an option at the net for the Hawks.
2019 Record: 13-6 2019 Finish: Reached D1 South First Round Coach: Kim Marshall
North Attleboro has been one of the biggest challengers to Canton’s reign atop the Davenport division in recent years, and the Rocketeers are going to be right back in the mix again during this Fall 2 season.
Head coach Kim Marshall has four returning seniors that all have valuable experience at the varsity level and then a strong junior class with consists of eight players ready to make a splash at the varsity level. Senior Joanna Collins-Bilyeu is one of the most experienced players in the league and will be a cornerstone at the net for the Rocketeers after putting down 67 kills a year ago. She will be joined by classmates Annie Grunewald and Jasmine Anderson along the net to give North a formidable attacking trio. Belle Clarkin will anchor the back row that features some new faces so the Rocketeers will be learning as the season goes on. Junior Katherine McHoul is stepping in to take over at the setter position to run the offense.
“I am really excited for this season to start, I just wish it wasn’t so short,” said Marshall. “I am very fortunate, again, to get a wonderful group of student-athletes who continually work so hard, support each other and are so much fun to be around.”
2019 Record: 18-5 2019 Finish: Reached D1 South Final Coach: Chelsea Cunningham
Oliver Ames made a run to the Div. 1 South final in 2019 and pushed perennial power Barnstable to a decisive fifth set and, after moving to the Davenport division this season, the Tigers have the potential to give defending state champ Canton a serious challenge for the league title.
Senior Caroline Flynn will be one of the team’s primary attackers on the outside and will get help from classmate Jordan Bennett, who is recovering from an injury but can play multiple positions along the front line. Senior Tori Harney is back after missing all of last season with an injury and will compete for a starting role as a middle hitter. Senior Sarah Morley will transition from defensive specialist to libero this year with senior Allie Zwerle providing leadership in the DS role. Junior Hadley Rhodes will step in as the setter this season, replacing the program’s all-time leader in assists, Allie Kemp, while sophomore Maddie Homer will add athleticism on the back row.
“This team has so much potential to build off of the best season this program has had to date- and we have work to do,” said OA coach Chelsea Cunningham. “With this season being so short, we are hoping to make every moment count in the gym. From bonding with everyone on the team, to mixing up the lineups, and everyone being ready to compete- it’s exciting to FINALLY play after the long wait.”
2019 Record: 6-13 2019 Finish: Missed playoffs Coach: Andrea Lovett
The foundation of the Sharon volleyball this season will be its senior class, a strong group of experienced players hungry to make some noise in the Davenport division this season.
The Eagles have four returning seniors in Brynne Aidlin-Perlman, Yvette Nau, Leah Fandel, and Sarah Fandel; all four can play in a variety of roles for Sharon. Aidlin-Perlman is a leader both on and off the court and provides the Eagles with solid defense plus a strong swing from the outside hitter position. Nau is back for another year as the team’s setter and will quarterback the offense, having all three of her classmates as good options at the net. Sara Fandel put a lot of work in during the offseason and has improved greatly at the net and provides the Eagles with a reliable defensive option in the back row while Leah Fandel is a two-way threat at the net from the middle position.
“We have four returning seniors that provide a very solid base for a talented team,” said Sharon head coach Andrea Lovett. “The team is rounded out with talented juniors who will be taking us into next year. Sharon expects to be a threat in our “Hock Bubble” this season.”
2019 Record: 2-14 2019 Finish: Missed playoffs Coach: Felicia Baptista
The Black Knights are looking to bounce back in a big way during the Fall 2 season. Felicia Baptista is moving up from subvarsity to take over the varsity squad.
Baptista will have a lot of new faces that are new to the varsity level so she plans to rely heavily on her two returners, especially in the early going. That means senior Shanice Landrum and senior Camille Firmin will be key leaders both on and off the court this year as Stoughton looks to battle for the Davenport division crown. Landrum led the team in kills last season with 86 and was one of the best blockers in the Hockomock League with 63. Firmin should see an expanded role at the net as the Knights look to integrate new faces into its lineup under Baptista.
“Even though it is a big building season for us, our team dynamic seems like we have been playing together for years,” Baptista said. “Every day I see big improvements with communication on the court and our defense is looking solid. This year is unique for us because we do have a few boys on our roster and, not only do they bring talent, but they add a light and fun atmosphere to the gym.”
With a large group of experienced players returning this season, the Tigers are eager to put last season behind them and make a splash this year.
Taunton has 10 seniors in total, with nine of them returning players from last season along with one returning junior, so experience will be a strength for this year’s squad. The Tigers will be looking to turn their experience at the varsity level into success on the court in the abbreviated Fall 2 season. Senior captain Jaelyn Fernandez will put the offense into motion from the setter spot and will have some weapons to work with along the net. The Tigers have all three of their top attackers back from a year ago, including senior captain and outside hitter Ella Dunderdale, who led the Tigers in kills last season with 89 kills. Senior Sonya Fernandez (83 kills) and junior Mikayla Cleary (63 kills) will also give the Tigers options from the middle and opposite spots. Seniors Makena Travers, Kailara Andrade, and Fabiana Pereira will anchor the back row for the Tigers. With experience in multiple spots, depth will be key for Taunton this year.
“We are just looking forward to the competition but as we know in the Kelley-Rex you have to be focused and be ready to bring it every night as every team is tough,” said Taunton head coach Toby Chaperon. “We are just hoping we can rise to the challenge each and every match and hope that our execution is sharp.”