Tigers Sweep Aside Durfee to Advance in Tournament

Oliver Ames volleyball
Oliver Ames senior libero Sadie Homer had 25 digs, helping the Tigers earn a convincing sweep of Durfee in the opening round of the state tournament. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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NORTH EASTON, Mass. – Oliver Ames hosted a playoff game in the William F. Nixon Gym for the first time on Thursday night and the Tigers used the energy from the home court and the home crowd to jump all over visiting Durfee in the opening round of the state tournament.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

OA started strongly and never looked back, beating the Hilltoppers in three sets (25-18, 25-16, 25-6) to advance into the Div. 1 South quarterfinal.

“They were hungry today,” said Oliver Ames coach Chelsea Cunningham. “The fact that they knew today that if they didn’t give 100 percent then it was going to be over and that clicked definitely for the seniors and it just ricocheted down.”

“Energy-level,” said senior libero Sadie Homer when asked about what made the difference in the win. “We bounced back when we lost a point and even when we were five points ahead, we were ready to go.”

The Tigers wasted no time taking control of the first set, using its strong defense and taking advantage of Durfee’s struggles keeping the ball in play to build a 14-7 lead. OA showed off its balance in attack as well, with junior setter Allie Kemp (31 assists) spreading the ball around to several hitters. Caitlin Cavanaugh (10 kills) had two kills in the opening stretch and Mary Davenport had one.

Following a Durfee timeout, Grace McCallum had an ace, Jordan Bosse had the first of her 10 kills, and Jordan Vella had a strong hit to stymie the visitors’ momentum. Durfee got as close as five points at 18-13 but OA kept responding. Davenport finished a long rally with a quick hit from the middle and Jackie Raymond got involved with a kill.

“At the beginning of the season,” Cunningham said, “one of the previews said we were one of the most balanced teams. It’s nice to know that it’s evenly-matched, where kids will compete and I’m always looking for any competitor.”

The key to the OA attack was Kemp, who found the right pass even when she was running away from the net and managed to bump it into the right spot for Cavanaugh or Bosse to finish the play.

“She’s my No. 1,” said Cunningham about Kemp. “She’s light on her feet, she’s quick to the ball and she never gives up. We wouldn’t have the balanced offense without her.”

The Tigers jumped in front again in the second set with Bosse getting them back in front with a kill, back-to-back Cavanaugh kills extending the lead and then a Bosse ace making it 9-5. A Davenport block quickly ended a Durfee rally, but the Hilltoppers did make it close with a 7-2 run that cut the lead to just 15-14.

“We just had to do what we normally do and not choke up because that’s one of our biggest things is choke up and get tense,” said Homer about bouncing back from the Durfee rally. “We just were like let’s have fun.”

OA grabbed a stranglehold on the match with a 10-2 run to close out the second set. Vella had an ace, Bosse had a pair of kills, and the set was closed out by Caroline Flynn’s lone kill of the match.

The third set turned out to be a rout, as OA pulled away for a 25-6 win. Ryley McNeeley came off the bench to record back-to-back aces, Raymond had two kills and an ace, and Cavanaugh had four kills in the set.

On match point, Homer was able to scramble to send across a third hit near the far sideline that couldn’t be returned by the Hilltoppers. It was the only kill of the match for the senior libero, who recorded 25 digs and led the strong defensive effort from the Tigers.

“She’s that person that says you beat me this time, but now I’ll beat you the next 10 times and that’s the feistiness, that’s the fire this team needs and when she’s on our team just lights up,” Cunningham said of Homer. “They’re feeding off her.”

It was a dominating win for Oliver Ames (14-7), which now gets to take the long bus ride down the Cape to face perennial power and No. 1 seed Barnstable on Monday night. It is a considerable challenge, but the Homer recognized that it was a considerable opportunity as well.

“Franklin gave us a good challenge, so I feel like we can take what they gave us and just use that to influence our game,” said Homer. “I know if we stick together than we’re not afraid of anything, we’re just going to play. Knowing it’s playoff we’re just going to have fun with it.”

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Volleyball: 2018 Hockomock League Preview

2018 Hockomock Volleyball Preview

By HockomockSports.com Staff

2018 Hockomock Volleyball Preview

Attleboro

2017 Record: 4-16
2017 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Courtney Durocher

A year after joining the Bombardiers as an assistant coach, Courtney Durocher takes over an Attleboro program hungry to make a splash in the Hockomock League. Attleboro lost four-year player and all-league selection Lexi Pereira to graduation but Durocher has a strong group of players to work with in her first year. Amanda Kadisevskis will be a vital part on both offense and defense, having led the Hock in blocks last season. Kadisevskis is a tri-captain along with senior Chelsea Calcagni and Faith Hindy (right side). Ana Leonardo had a strong year last year and will be relied upon to set the offense in motion while juniors Jessica Matheson (defensive specialist) and Emily McGovern (outside hitter) will be called upon to step up this season for the Bombardiers.

“I am excited for this season as I am now the head coach,” Durocher said. “I believe the team will have a good season and work well together.”

Canton

2017 Record: 7-12
2017 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Pat Cawley

Canton’s decade-long run as league champion came to a close last season but head coach Pat Cawley is hoping the lessons learned last year will pay off in 2018. The Bulldogs only had a couple of players with varsity experience last year so a lot of new faces were able to gain experience throughout the year. Senior captain Nicole Brown is back for her second year as the team’s setter. Her athleticism and speed allow her to get around the court to get in position to make plays. Middle Erin Devine will be one of Brown’s main targets along with outside hitting Taylor Harris. Devine has impressed through the preseason and Harris brings an aggressive edge to the Dogs’ attack. Senior libero Meghan McDonough is one of the players Cawley expects to take the next step this season after getting a year of experience under her belt last season. Setter/opposite Olivia Chinsen and outside hitter Angie Elias are also in the mix for Canton this year.

“Canton volleyball is looking to turn it around this season,” Cawley said. “We have 10 seniors, many of whom saw a lot of playing time last year. We are hoping this experience leads to more aggressive and confident play.”

Foxboro

2017 Record: 1-17
2017 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Dan Damish

The 2018 version of the Foxboro Warriors will rely heavily on its four captains while a handful of new faces get acclimated to the varsity level. Senior captain Paulette Palomares will set the tone defensively as the libero and will be joined by fellow captains Brynn Gilbert and Shaelyn McCarthy as defensive specialists. Grace Boudreau, a junior captain, will be a main piece of the offense from her outside hitter spot. Boudreau will be joined on the outside by Calvi Goodard while first-year players Ashelyn Moniz and Meg McDonald will be in the middle. First-year player Madison O’Brien will take over as the team’s setter.

“This year’s team will have to play great defense, serve well, serve receive well and play great team volleyball in order to have a successful season,” said Foxboro head coach Dan Damish.

Franklin

2017 Record: 15-5
2017 Finish: Reached D1 Central/West Quarterfinal
Coach: Kelsey Weymouth

Former North Attleboro standout Kelsey Weymouth takes over as head coach of the Franklin Panthers and she has a lot of talent to work with right away.

The Panthers have Lauren McGrath, Ellie Wiesniewski, Riley Marino, Maggie Doyle, and Hailey Sanders back, all of whom either starter or played in plenty of sets last season. McGrath is in her third year as the starting setting and is a vocal leader for the team while Marino is a standout defensive specialist as the libero. Doyle is a tall presence in the middle that will be a big part of the defense as well as Sanders, who plays on the right side. Wisniewski and sophomore Allyson Bonnet-Eymard will be the main focuses on the outside for the Panthers.

“I am extremely excited to be apart of this Franklin program and coach these girls into being successful volleyball players,” Weymouth said. “I am going to do everything in my power to continue the previous success of this program. My girls have been extremely welcoming and that’s a good feeling coming in a new head coach.”

King Philip

2017 Record: 20-3 (Kelley-Rex Division Champions)
2017 Finish: Reached D1 Central/East Final
Coach: Kristen Geuss

King Philip claimed its second straight Kelley-Rex title last season and fourth in the past five years. Now the focus turns to 2018 and the Warriors will be looking to compete for yet another division crown. Gone is two-time Hockomock MVP Sydney Phillips and four other starters but the Warriors bring back a solid core of players that will try to make their own mark this season. It starts with senior captains Livvie Atkins and Kat Kmetz, two of the more experienced players on the squad. Atkins is one of the top defensive players on the team and Kmetz will step into an outside hitter spot. Head coach Kristen Guess is relying on seniors Shayla Weitzman (defensive specialist), Caroline Robertson (opposite), Jessie Kornfeld (defensive specialist) and Kristen Masse (defensive specialist) to step up this season. Junior Kiley Sullivan steps in as an option at setter while classmates Grace Ely and Catherine Waldeck will handle the middle blocker spots. Guess also expects sophomores Emma Brooks (Setting), Nicole Coughlin (middle), and Lillian Carlow (defensive specialist) to see substantial time this year.

“Our strength will be our ability to distribute the ball to all of our hitters,” Guess said. “We are working hard each practice and I see us improving every day.”

Mansfield

2017 Record: 8-11
2017 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Melissa Heeden

There will be a lot of new faces in Mansfield’s lineup this season after losing seven seniors to graduation. The Hornets graduated their leader in kills and blocks (Meg Hill), assists (Emma Ascoli), and top two players in digs (Julia Harrison and Jolie O’Neil) so there is plenty of space for new players to step up and make a name for themselves. One key piece returning to the lineup is middle Greenly Kelly, who was among the best in the league at blocking. Her net defense will be key for a Hornet squad putting an emphasis on defense. Senior captain Katie Dardinski is a defensive specialist and will be another key piece on the back line. Sophomore Alina Nowakowski will take over as the other middle while sophomore Olivia McGrath will step into an outside hitter role.

“We will be a very different team this year in which I am hoping to be a little more defensive minded,” said Mansfield head coach Melissa Heeden. “While we are young and have a lot of work to do, they are ready for the challenge.”

Milford

2017 Record: 7-13
2017 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Tammy Webber

The Hawks will need some new players to step up in 2018 after graduating the core of its team from last season, including eight seniors. Head coach Tammy Webber believes that her team is only going to get better the more they play. Seniors Briana Maiette, Sydney Sutton, and Nina Pinto will be relied upon for their leadership this season while Webber is looking for contributions out of juniors Julia Riordan and Alyssa Williamson. Middles Allison Corsini and Lauren Corsini could give the Hawks a boost at the net while sophomore Elise Fauerbach figures to get some time on the court right away. Senior defensive specialist and Ana Alvarenga and juniors Abbey Reichert and April Swain are also in the mix for playing time this season.

“Right now we are just working on consistency and confidence in our play,” Webber said. “We are working on finding the best combinations of players to be competitive and win games.”

North Attleboro

2017 Record: 18-3 (Davenport Division Champions)
2017 Finish: Reached D1 South Quarterfinal
Coach: Kim Hallahan

Not many teams lost as much talent as the Rocketeers, who boasted a very senior-heavy roster last season that won its first-ever Davenport title. And on top of that, Kim Hallahan takes over as head coach after Jeff Crins stepped down after a lengthy run as the leader of the Rocketeers. Seniors Emma Gunn and Tatiana Sotelo are the two returning players this season and will be joined by 11 juniors. Sotelo will be counted on to be a main piece in Big Red’s offense while Hayley Gaskin and Joanna Collins-Bilyeu give North Attleboro options at the setter position. Hallahan said there are a lot of solid defensive players on the team but need to figure out which spots work best.

“We do have a young team, but after we get the season started, and some of the nerves out, I don’t think that it will affect us too much,” CHllahan said. “We have many hardworking, talented, versatile girls.”

Oliver Ames

2017 Record: 11-10
2017 Finish: Reached D1 South First Round
Coach: Chelsea Cunningham

While Oliver Ames is in a good spot with its defense and setter, the Tigers are in need of players to step up on the offensive end after the graduation of six talented seniors. Senior captain Sadie Homer is a four-year varsity player and returns as the team’s libero. She’s been a defensive specialist for the Tigers for all four years and will be one of the most seasoned and skilled players in the back row in the Hock this season. Junior setter Allie Kemp is also back and is the reigning HockomockSports.com Underclassman of the Year after helping the Tigers win 11 of their final 14 games to qualify for the state tournament. One option OA has at the net will be junior Jordan Bosse. After serving as a defensive specialist last season, Bosse will be an offensive option at outside hitter this season.

“I see lots of potential with this group,” said OA head coach Chelsea Cunningham. “We have big shoes to fill after losing six seniors, all of offensive positions. We have a roster full of athleticism and commitment and I hope the girls come ready to play every day and grow as a team. If they play to their potential, this could be a great season for the OA Volleyball program.”

Sharon

2017 Record: 6-12
2017 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Andrea Lovett

After improving its win total each of the last two seasons, the Sharon volleyball program will be relying on its eight seniors to continue that upward trend. The Eagles’ offense will run mostly through its two captains with Abby Fine acting as the engine for the attack. From her setter position, the offense will flow through her while one of her main targets will be fellow captain Jody Goldenberg. Goldenberg will also be key on the defensive side as a middle blocker. Ally Brown will also see time at setter and will have senior Jade Veth and sophomore Brynne Aidlin-Perlman to work with on the outside.

“Sharon’s program is building from the ground up,” said head coach Andrea Lovett. “As more and more talented younger players come up through the ranks, we are looking forward to seeing many more wins this season. The Eagles are a tough, tenacious group of players who I believe are going to surprise some teams this season.”

Stoughton

2017 Record: 16-5
2017 Finish: Reached D2 South First Round
Coach: Erica Batchelder

Last year was certainly a season to remember for the Black Knights and a big reason why was the two-way play of seniors Val Whalen and Jordan Motley. Both Whalen and Motley played significant roles on offense and defense for the Knights, who set a program record for wins in a season. While those two weapons are gone, the Black Knights bring two other important pieces from their offense from last year. Setters Molly Turner (278) and Hanna Holden (179) are both back and will the engines of the team. Juniors Sasha Hyacinthe and Alexa Quinones have worked hard in the summer and will be two offensive options for Stoughton. Another key returner for Stoughton is senior Mia Bennett, who is back for her third year as the team’s libero.

“We may have a lot of new faces but we are taking the same approach to the game: become better players, coaches, and people every day and the wins will come,” said Stoughton head coach Erica Batchelder. “We have so much untapped potential in this team that is going to surprise the rest of the league. We will always try our hardest and have fun while doing it.”

Taunton

2017 Record: 4-16
2017 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Toby Chaperon

After missing out on the state tournament the past two seasons, the Tigers are looking to get back into playoff contention on the backs of nine seniors. Everything will run through three-year starter Kayli Fagan, who is inching closer and closer to 1,000 assists as the team’s primary setter. Another key returner is senior Mckenzie Lucie, who will continue to handle libero duties and stabilize the back line. Middle Kamila Cuevas has taken a big step forward while Sam Silveira is back as an option on the outside. Other seniors that head coach Toby Chaperon is expecting to contribute include Sam Martin (opposite), Aliyah Gillenwater (outside), Michaela Felici (outside), Jaime Brown (defensive specialist), and Elaine Bodemer (defensive specialist).

“We will be integrating many new players and are hoping that gelling process will happen quickly as there are no let-ups in our schedule as we get started right away with a strong New Bedford team,” Chaperon said.