Mansfield Sweeps Sharon to Reach Hock Cup Semis

Mansfield Volleyball
Mansfield senior Kacey Veiking (23) goes up for a tip in the Hock Cup quarterfinal at Sharon. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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SHARON, Mass. – As his team met in the hallway prior to Monday night’s Hock Cup quarterfinal, first-year Mansfield coach Mark Ledwich had a sense that the players were ready to build on the momentum of four wins in the final six games of the regular season and put in a good performance.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

The Hornets did just that, sweeping Sharon 3-0 (25-10, 25-17, 25-18). Mansfield didn’t trail at any point against the Davenport division runners up, earning the impressive road win and booking a spot in the semifinal.

“Going into the game, we knew that if we could serve spots it would lead them in directions that would really help our defense,” Ledwich explained, “and all we did was practice where we needed to sit on defense to make that happen. It was a great game by all the kids to go out there and do their jobs.”

Sharon has not had much experience with a playoff atmosphere, even one with a limited crowd, and the Eagles looked a little tentative out of the gates. Mansfield jumped out to a 10-3 lead, then doubled it to go up 20-6 as the Eagles struggled with unforced errors.

“Someone used the term high-stakes game before the game and I think they were a little bit nervous about that,” said Sharon coach Andrea Lovett. “A lot of people were playing against people they play with in club a lot and their club coach, which also makes them a little nervous. They just didn’t execute the way they needed to. It was all fundamentals.”

Mansfield also looked strong at the net, setting a pattern for the game, as the front line dominated on both offense and defense. Sharon’s leading hitter Sara Fandel found it difficult to get into a rhythm against the blocking of Ashley and Nicole Santos, Kacey Veiking, and Alina Nowakowski.

Veiking had an early kill followed by back-to-back swings from Olivia McGrath, who also added a block and ace during the first set. Yvette Nau had an ace and Leah Fandel added a kill from her middle position but Ashley Santos followed with a kill to end any chance of the hosts going on a run. Nowakowski and Santos went back-to-back with kills to end the first.

“One of the things we said was that whatever happened we had to play at our energy,” said Ledwich. “Although we have restrictions for fans, our bench brings it and makes it feel like every one of our games is a home game.”

The Eagles tried to regroup between sets, but again the Hornets came out flying. Mansfield scored the first six points of the second, behind McGrath’s strong service game. Three times Sharon would battle back within one, but each time Mansfield grabbed a crucial point to make sure it stayed in front.

After Sharon cut the lead to 11-10, McGrath scored with a well-placed tip and setter Christina Lydon scored with a quick leap and spike. Sara Fandel finally got free for a blast to make it 21-14, but Nowakowski continued to find the right angle on the outside and scored with consecutive swings. Nicole Santos added a kill in the middle and the Hornets were up 2-0 with a chance to seal the match.

Sharon needed to get off to a good start in the third, but it was the Hornets that scored the first three points and got to play from in front yet again.

Lovett said, “I’ve noticed a trend for us in the last few matches that we get down a little bit and then sort of kick in and this wasn’t a team that we could kick in against.”

The Eagles kept battling. Brynne Aidlin-Pearlman had an ace and Fandel a kill, but McGrath was proving tough to stop and Santos had a big block for an 8-5 lead. Like the second set, the Eagles were able to get within a point but couldn’t get over the hump.

“They’re good blockers and I don’t think our hitters took advantage of their knowledge and ability to hit around them, over them, mix things up,” said Lovett. “I was saying in the huddle that you can’t just pound it into their hands, you’ve got to figure something out. We didn’t adapt well.”

Down 16-15, the Eagles saw a shot drop long. It would be as close as they could get. Nowakowski followed with an ace and McGrath fired one off the block for a point. Veiking knocked one off the blockers’ hands and McGrath closed out the match with another ace.

Mansfield (6-5) will now get its third shot at co-champ Franklin in the semifinal on Wednesday. Ledwich said, “We have yet to play Franklin at full strength. We are where we need to be and a full strength Mansfield looks like this and we’re ready to come back at Franklin. Third one’s the charm.”

Sharon (8-3) will host North Attleboro in the consolation round to close out one of its most successful seasons in years.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Wednesday’s Schedule & Scoreboard – 04/07/21

Today’s games are listed below.

Volleyball
Canton, 3 @ Foxboro, 0 – FinalCanton went on the road and completed a 3-0 (25-11, 25-21, 25-15) sweep of Foxboro to clinch the program’s third straight Davenport division title. Senior Angie Elias had her best offensive showing of the season with 20 kills and eight digs to lead the way for Canton. Liz Bickett added 10 kills and 20 digs while Jackie Morrissey and Taylor Reynolds combined for 27 assists in the win.

Oliver Ames, 3 @ Stoughton, 0 – FinalOliver Ames snapped a three-match kid, going on the road and earning a 3-0 (25-15, 25-20, 25-19) win over the Black Knights. Senior Jordan Bennett had a solid all-around performance for the Tigers with 17 service points, eight kills, and eight digs while classmates Sarah Morley (14 digs) and Allie Zwerle (10 digs) played well defensively. Junior Hadley Rhodes finished with 19 assists and four blocks.

Mansfield, 3 @ Milford, 1 – FinalAfter splitting the first two games, Mansfield outlasted Milford in a marathon third set and went on to close it out with two straight wins for a 3-1 (25-19, 19-25, 27-25, 25-14) win on the road. Olivia McGrath led the way with 12 kills and 16 digs, Alina Nowakowski added eight kills, eight aces, 11 digs, and a block, and Kacey Veiking chipped in with six kills, six digs and three aces. Julia Kelly (23 digs) anchored the defense while Christina Lydon (20 assists) and Isabella Flint (15 assists) split setting duties.

Boys Winter Track
Mansfield, 50 @ Attleboro, 50 – FinalAttleboro won both relays to rally for a tie against visiting Mansfield. After the Hornets were disqualified during the 4×100, the Bombardiers ran away with a win in the 4×400 to bring the score to 50-50. Nate Seybert gave the hosts a good start in the final race, Ethan Sylvia and John Blouin kept the Bombardiers ahead, and Joey Soucy finished strong (3:44.6) to get the win and tie the meet. Soucy also finished first in the 200M (23.7) while Seybert (2:08.9) won the 800M race. Attleboro also got wins from Ethan Crosby (shotput, 41′ 8’5″) James Hill (long jump, 18’10”) and Eric Laurila (high jump, 5’1″).

Girls Winter Track
Mansfield, 70 @ Attleboro, 30 – FinalFor Attleboro, Diana Blouin won the 1 Mile and was a member of the winning 4×400 relay team but the Bombardiers fell to visiting Mansfield. Blouin set a season record at 5:43.2 in the mile and teamed with Madison Ellis, Rebecca Rainey, and Cassondra Stuger to win the 4×400 relay (4:34.2). Stuger also won the 400M in 1:01.6 and took second in the 200M (27.6).

Thursday’s Schedule & Scoreboard – 03/11/21

Today’s games are listed below.

Volleyball
Franklin, 3 @ Milford, 0 – FinalFranklin went on the road and earned another 3-0 (25-18, 25-10, 25-18) sweep over Milford, moving to 2-0 on the season. Ally Bonnet-Eymard paced the offense for the Panthers with 15 kills while freshman Taylor Lacerda added nine kills in the win. Junior Cailyn Mackintosh went an impressive 18-for-19 on the service line for Franklin.

King Philip, 3 @ Mansfield, 2 – FinalClick here for a Photo Gallery from this game.King Philip rallied from a 2-0 deficit, winning three straight sets to earn a 3-2 (18-25, 19-25, 25-18, 25-18, 15-6) on the road. Giovanna Fruci stepped up big for the Warriors with 14 kills, sophomore Ahunna James added 13 kills and two aces, and Nicole Coughlan had 11 kills and two aces. Lauren Peterson dished out 31 assists and Emma Brooks anchored the defense with 26 digs. For Mansfield, Olivia McGrath (two aces) and Alina Nowakowski (three blocks) each put down 13 kills while Christina Lydon finished with 34 assists. Nicole Santos added four blocks, three kills, and two aces while Julia Kelly had three aces.

North Attleboro, 0 @ Oliver Ames, 3 – FinalOliver Ames opened its home schedule in style, earning a 3-0 (25-18, 25-14, 25-18) sweep over visiting North Attleboro to improve to 2-0 on the season. Sophomore Maddie Homer shined at the service line with 27 service points and three aces, adding 10 digs defensively. Senior Caroline Flynn added 18 kills, senior Sarah Morley had 27 digs and four aces, and junior Hadley Rhodes chipped in 28 assists. For North Attleboro, Joanna Collins-Bilyeu had five kills and five digs while Ava Dunlevy added nine digs.