STOUGHTON, Mass. – When the official blew his whistle to bring an end to the point, he pointed towards Middleboro and it appeared that the visiting Sachems had just come from behind to take the opening set in Monday night’s Div. 2 South quarterfinal.
The Stoughton bench and players immediately contested the call, and after a brief discussion it was determined that the officials had been mistaken. The player had been on the front line and was allowed to go for the hit. The point was ordered to be retaken and the Black Knights got a kill from Delaney Nagel to tie the set at 26-26.
Stoughton went on to win each of the next two points and the first set and then used that momentum to sweep aside Middleboro in front of a vocal home crowd to reach the sectional semifinal.
“When he reversed the call, they were so down, but we were so excited we got the point and we had another chance to come back,” said Stoughton senior Molly Turner. “That excitement, that energy was so huge for us. Once we got that momentum, we were able to get a couple of easy points.”
Stoughton coach Erica Batchelder added, “We definitely did it to ourself, being in that first set making a lot of errors, but we really came together as a team and brought it back to get the win. The end of the first set, we drop that and it may have been a different story but getting that one point it really kept us going.”
The Black Knights fed off the enthusiastic crowd, which included a decent contingent of Middleboro fans as well. The energy flowed from the stands onto the court.
“It’s amazing,” Turner said of the crowd. “We’re a very energy-based team and we rely so much on our fans. They get so into it, they get so hyped up when we do things well. When we use their energy, we play far beyond what we can if we didn’t have them.”
Stoughton jumped out to an early 6-1 lead in the first following kills from Nagel and Alexa Quinones. The Sachems battled back by winning six of the next seven points and the set remained close from that point forward. Turner won a point with her serve and Nagel had another kill in the middle to make it 16-13, but again the visitors went on a run, winning six of the next seven.
Trailing 21-18, Stoughton went on a run to give itself a chance at set point. Quinones, Turner, and Amaya Morris each had kills to tie the set at 22-22. Hanna Holden made it 24-23 when she reacted first to a serve that barely skipped off the top of the net and found a hole in the Middleboro defense.
A couple of mistakes gave Middleboro back the lead and it seemed as though the Sachems might have stolen the opening set, but the Black Knights rallied for a critical point.
“It’s been our story this entire season,” Batchelder admitted. “We haven’t had an easy win all season, they really work hard. Oftentimes we find ourselves down and have to fight our way back, but it definitely got us ready for the postseason.”
The second set was far more straightforward for the hosts, albeit still very close from start to finish. A Rachel Goulston ace put Stoughton ahead 12-8, its largest lead in the set to that point. The Black Knights built the lead up to six points at 20-14 behind two kills from Quinones and an ace from Mia Bennett. Bennett, who finished with a team-high 25 digs, also added a couple of big hits from the back line for points. Stoughton won the set 25-21.
Leading by two sets and on the brink of the win, Stoughton didn’t take its foot off the pedal, jumping out to 11-7 and 15-10 leads. Although Middleboro battled to get back within one, Stoughton was able to keep its composure to secure the win.
“We knew we had to close it out,” Turner said. “We’ve had tough times in the third in the past, so we knew this was a huge one. We knew what we had to and we went out and did what we had to do and we closed it out.”
The Black Knights showed great balance on the offensive side with several players providing contributions. Nagel and Quinones each finished with eight kills and Turner chipped in with five kills and 16 digs.
“My starting six really work the ball around,” said Batchelder, “so it’s really tough to cover us because we don’t have that one player who if you stop you can stop our whole team. We really work the ball around well and keep everybody involved in the game.”
Stoughton (16-4) advances to face No. 3 seed Greater New Bedford Voke on the road.
STOUGHTON, Mass. – After losing a lead late in the fourth set to rival Stoughton, the Canton volleyball team found themselves in a place they hadn’t been all year: a fifth set.
And despite the Black Knights having the momentum and home court advantage, Bulldogs head coach Pat Cawley was confident her squad would be up to the challenge.
“Pressure is a privilege,” Cawley said. “It’s a privilege to be here and play and it’s a privilege to play under pressure. If you’re going to be a good team, you have to be able to play in the fifth set. That’s the first time we’ve gone five all year. If we want to make a run in the tournament, we have to learn how to play under pressure so they did a great job.”
Senior middle Erin Devine (12 kills, eight blocks) set the tone early in the fifth set with a pair of blocks that gave Canton a 5-1 lead. It was an advantage that the Bulldogs didn’t relinquish the rest of the way, earning a win in the fifth set and a 3-2 victory (25-16, 20-25, 25-15, 24-26, 15-9) over the Black Knights.
“It was very exciting, we knew it was going to be like that because Stoughton is a great team, we’re pretty even,” Cawley said. “We have a rough time playing in this gym, it’s a terrible volleyball gym because the ceiling is low but its great home court advantage because they are used to playing here. But Stoughton is an aggressive team, they have good servers, they hit the ball.”
Stoughton fought back on a pair of occasions to make the fifth set tight. After going down 5-1, back-to-back kills from Sasha Hyacinthe (eight kills) and Alexa Quinones helped get within a point. But a couple of kills from Taylor Harris (15 kills, 20 digs) kept the Bulldogs in front, forcing a timeout.
Stoughton’s Hanna Holden (18 assists, 10 kills) had a kill and Amaya Morris landed a kill to give the Black Knights some momentum down 12-9, but Canton setter Nicole Brown (33 assists, 21 digs, five kills, three aces) picked the perfect time to dump the ball over on the second touch, catching the Black Knights’ defense.
“She’s the floor general out there, we wouldn’t be anywhere without her,” Cawley said of Brown. “Erin’s a great player but Nicole has to put the ball where she wants it, she’s just one of the best athletes I’ve ever coached. I’ve been here 18 years and she’s one of the best athletes I’ve seen, she’s the real deal. She’s the glue that holds us together.”
Devine registered a kill with a hard hit off a block out of bounds and Theresa O’Brien won a battle at the net for the game point.
“I’m really proud of this team,” Cawley said. “We had a tough time year last season, and most all of them were here last year apart of that. We gritted it out, they played hard and they made a lot of advancements. So I know who I have, I know they can do it. I believe in them, I believe in them more than they do themselves. I’m trying to convince them they can do it, I think this will help them do that.”
Before Canton earned the win in five, the Bulldogs were on the edge of a 3-1 win. Holding a 19-14 lead after a net infraction, it looked like Canton was positioned to close out the match. But three straight points from Stoughton, punctuated by a kill from Molly Turner (23 digs, 15 assists, 11 service points, eight kills, three aces) gave Stoughton life.
Canton went up by four again, 21-17, but Stoughton refused to go away. A net call, a kill from Hyacinthe, and a Canton hitting error (after a couple of nice defensive plays from the Knights) tied the game 23-23.
Stoughton went up 24-23, but Canton tied it back up on a hitting error. The Knights didn’t flinch as Delaney Nagel hammered down a kill and Veronica Noe gave the hosts a win in the fourth set with an ace.
“The last time we played them, it definitely wasn’t our best game, and we lost 3-0 at their court, so to come back and go to five sets with them is incredible, I’m really proud of my girls for doing that,” said Stoughton head coach Erica Batchelder.
“I just told them to play like they can. We’ve grown so much throughout this season. When we started out, we weren’t really playing together but now we play as a team. The way that they lift each other up, and be able to make that run at the end…they don’t like to lose on their home court. Unfortunately, in the end, they did today but it was a hard fought game, and they never gave up.”
Canton built a 12-6 in the first set, Stoughton rallied to make it a four-point game at 16-12, but the Bulldogs were able to finish it off. Julia Minichiello had a pair of aces and Harris added two more kills, including a nice line shot, to clinch the first set.
Stoughton responded with a win in the second set. It was tight throughout, with neither side holding more than a four-point advantage in the early stages. The Knights took a 17-14 lead only for Canton to storm back to get within one, down 20-19.
The Black Knights finished it off by winning five of the next six points, including consecutive kills from Turner and Nagel, an ace from Turner, and a kill from Hyacinthe to make it 1-1.
The third set went similar to the second, with the teams trading points in the early stages. Canton had its first real advantage at 11-8 and then extended that advantage to 17-10 with four of those points coming off kills or blocks from Devine. Devine had just two total errors on 36 attack attempts.
“Erin’s been our go-to person this season, she makes very few errors,” Cawley said. “I tell my setter if she’s on and not making errors, go to her. I don’t care if she gets every ball, if she’s putting it down, go to her. And her block is aggressive. At 6’3, it’s tough to get around. Even if she’s not touching the ball, she affects the other hitters.”
An ace from freshman Sydney Gallery and a kill from sophomore Liz Bickett (seven kills, two blocks) helped Canton earn a 25-15 win in the third set.
With the win, Canton volleyball (12-1 overall, 12-1 Hock) moves within one win of clinching at least a share of the Davenport division title. The Bulldogs host Sharon on Wednesday. Stoughton (10-4, 10-3) will try to bounce back on the same day when it travels to Foxboro.
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.”
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.”
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.
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.
STOUGHTON, Mass. – Sometimes a loss, especially early on the season, can turn into a valuable learning opportunity.
That was the case for North Attleboro, suffering a 3-2 non-league setback to King Philip last week.
Now Stoughton is hoping the same will come true for them after dropping a 3-2 decision to the visiting Rocketeers on Monday night.
Stoughton took the first game, and then went up 2-1, but North Attleboro responded each time and came away with a 21-25, 25-15, 16-25, 25-23, 15-6 win.
North Attleboro head coach Jeff Crins believes his team’s ability to bounce back is a direct correlation from having been in the same scenario less than a week ago.
“I think having played that game five [against KP] kind of gave them the confidence to go out there and play our game,” Crins said. “When we play our game, when we run our offense, it’s tough to stay with us. The kids just needed to hear it and see it, and it worked out in our favor tonight. Our offense was running on all cylinders in the fifth game.”
For Stoughton head coach Erica Batchelder, she’s hoping her squad – who hadn’t lost more than one set all season – will use this as a lesson.
“I think we can take this loss and learn from it,” Batchelder said. “We haven’t been down yet this season, we had only lost one set coming into today. I think this will definitely help us. The kids weren’t used to be down yet, but now we can learn from this.”
The Black Knights got off to a strong start in the first game. North Attleboro’s Kezia De La Cruz (13 kills, two aces) opened the match with back-to-back kills, but Stoughton then rattled off a 10-1 run to seize a 10-3 lead.
Stoughton kept its offense up, building a 19-8 lead behind a kill from Molly Turner (16 assists, seven kills, five aces) and it looked like the Black Knights would cruise to an opening game win.
But North Attleboro got into a groove behind strong serving from Leah Marceau. A block kill from Anna Caristi capped an 11-4 run for the visitors to cut the deficit at four, 23-19. But Turner was able to finish off a kill to give Stoughton a 25-21 win.
While North Attleboro didn’t come away with the win in the first game, the momentum captured in the comeback attempt carried over into the second game.
“I think it was huge to get back in it,” Crins said. “If we ended that game under double-digits, or losing by double-digits then the next game would have been a completely different outcome. I think we got some confidence. We kind of beat ourselves for the first 20 points so we just needed to play our game. Stoughton played great, they didn’t let anything drop but we just had to go the distance a little bit.”
Holding to a one-point lead early, the Rocketeers rattled off a 10-0 run, highlighted by a pair of kills from Tori Melanson (13 kills, seven blocks) and an ace from Emma Gunn to take a 17-6 lead.
The Rocketeers were able to keep that 10-point cushion the rest of the way, getting kills from Melanson, De La Cruz, Caristi and Katie DeMontigny to take a 25-15 win.
The third game was much tighter throughout. North Attleboro’s Amelia Murphy (18 kills, two aces) cut the Stoughton lead to just two at 15-13. But a quick 4-0 burst, including an ace from sophomore Makiah Simpson – suddenly put the Black Knights up 19-13.
Big Red called a timeout when Stoughton’s lead went to 22-16, but the break didn’t phase the Black Knights, getting the final three points via kills from Val Whalen (12 kills, four blocks), Hanna Holden (11 assists, four kills) and an ace from Turner.
The fourth game started out similar to the first as Stoughton raced out to a 10-3 lead, punctuated by an ace from Taylor Levine. But North Attleboro rallied for a 7-0 run to tie the game. Tied 16-16, Big Red then hit a 5-1 stride to take a 21-17 lead and force a timeout from the Knights. Stoughton rallied to cut the deficit to one (22-21), forcing Crins to take a timeout.
A kill from Whalen brought Stoughton within one (24-23) but an error allowed North Attleboro to take the win and force a fifth set.
“I think when we got them out of their system, we were at an advantage,” Crins said. “They still did a nice job to keep the ball in play and put pressure on us. I have to give it to my setter [Leah Marceau] she played a phenomenal game. She really did a great job keeping the pieces together and feeding the hot hand when we needed to.”
That’s when experience showed. North quickly turned a tie game (3-3) into a 9-4 lead behind a big kill from Murphy, forcing a timeout. Murphy registered another kill on the next play, added two more to extend North’s lead to 13-5. With game point on the line, Marceau set Murphy up and she slammed down her 18th kill for the win.
“That was our motivation, to get into first place,” Crins said. “If we lost, we would have had to play catch up the rest of the season. But if we controlled the match, then we control our destiny. We see them again so we know it will be just as tough but for now, we control our destiny.”
North Attleboro (7-1 overall, 6-0 Hockomock) returns home on Thursday to host Milford. Stoughton (7-1, 5-1) hosts Sharon on Wednesday evening.
2016 Record: 2-17 2016 Finish: Missed playoffs Coach: Richard Seibert
First year head coach Dick Seibert is hoping a mix of strong returning players and new faces will help Attleboro turn things around this season. One reason for hope is four-year varsity player Lexi Pereira, who was selected to the HockomockSports.com Second Team a year ago. Pereira provides the Bombardiers with a potent attack at the net as well as a strong defensive presence. Seniors Sarah Lynch (third year on varsity) and Rachel Perreault (libero) are also key members for Big Blue this season. Tabby Guinan, Olivia Protano, Mackenzie Christiansen and junior middle Amanda Kadisevskis all return this season with varsity experience. Protano and junior Faith Hindy will handle the setting duties this season.
“As a first year varsity coach at Attleboro, my goal is obvious: win some matches,” Seibert said. “Attleboro hopes to climb out of the cellar of the Hockomock League this year.”
2016 Record: 18-4 (Davenport Division Champions) 2016 Finish: Reached D2 Central Final Coach: Pat Cawley
It’s been a decade of dominance for the Bulldogs, winning a league title every year for the past 10 seasons. But that reign will be tested this season as the Bulldogs will boast a group that is mostly without varsity experience. Canton graduated 13 seniors from last year’s squad that reached the D2 Central Final. Senior Hannah Jerrier is one player back with some experience after playing middle a season ago. Jerrier will be joined by junior Erin Devine as the team’s middles while junior Nicole Brown, who saw little time a year ago, will take over as the team’s starting setting. While outside and right side hitting spots are up for grabs, Canton will look to senior Sofia Connor and juniors Megan McDonough and Julia Minichiello to anchor a defense that has been the calling card of the team the past couple of seasons.
“Many positions remain open at this point but all my players are working hard and looking better every day,” said head coach Pat Cawley. “We will be a team that will need to rely on and trust each other in order to succeed. I expect to improve with each match and be a team to be reckoned with down the line!”
2016 Record: 1-17 2016 Finish: Missed playoffs Coach: Dan Damish
Foxboro will lean heavily on its nine seniors, including captains Meagan Savage and Mary Booth, as well as a couple of younger players, as it tries to bounce back from last year. Dan Damish returns his leading blocker from last season in senior middle Delya Lorquet. Lorquet will be joined by sophomores Grace Boudreau and Calvi Goddard at the net. Senior Mandy Ryan and junior Shaelyn McCarthy will take over setting duties this season while Carly Madden and Maddie Elliott will be competing for attacking spots in the front row. Paulette Palomares will man the libero position with Gwen Calnan, Billie Prescott, Brynn Gilbert and Hannah St. Germain helping to solidify the back row.
“The team looks to play great defense, serve well, limit unforced errors, and communicate well on the court,” Damish said.
After losing just four seniors to graduation, the Franklin Panthers return an experienced and deep team ready to make a run at the Kelley-Rex division title. The Panthers bring back both of their middle hitters to anchor the attack and net defense. Senior Meaghan Maguire (42 blocks) is back for her third year while junior Maggie Doyle (57 kills) returns after a strong sophomore campaign. Franklin also brings back junior setter Lauren McGrath, who was selected as HockomockSports.com Underclassman of the Year last season. Ellie Wisniewski (63 kills) will be one of the team’s top offensive threats at outside hitter.
“We are deep and have experience on offense this season,” said FHS coach Kate Horsmann. “Our floor leader and top defensive player graduated, so finding a floor leader and shoring up our defense will be a big factor in how our season plays out.”
A year after winning the program’s third Kelley-Rex title, the Warriors look to be poised to earn back-to-back titles based on the returning talent they have. Leading the way is 2016 HockomockSports.com Player of the Year and Hockomock League MVP Sydney Phillips, who had a tremendous season at outside hitter last year. She’ll be joined by senior Michaela Palumbo (outside hitter), Julianne Rando (defensive specialist) and Elise Pereira (libero). Junior Kat Kmetz is back as one of the team’s middle hitters after having a strong sophomore season, sophomore Grace Ely will step in as the other middle and senior Rachel Veilleux will take over as the setter.
“We are working hard for another successful season,” said KP head coach Kristen Geuss. “I am encouraged by the progress we have made on both offense and defense. We’ve had several scrimmages and I am happy with how our players have performed. We have a motivated team and are all looking forward to a strong start to the season.”
With two of the top net players back this season, Mansfield looks to be a true threat in a very deep Kelley-Rex division. Meg Hill, now in her fourth year on varsity, was fifth overall in kills a season ago and is one of the top net defensive players. Hill will be aided by Julia Harrison (104 kills) on the attack, now in her third year as an outside hitter for the Hornets. Junior Greenly Kelly will step into the other middle spot while senior Lexi Gardner will see time at outside hitter. Senior Emma Ascoli and sophomore Olivia Fernando will both see time setting for Mansfield.
“We have a lot of potential and have a great mix of senior leadership and experience as well as some young players who are going to add a lot to the team,” said MHS head coach Melissa Heeden. We have a lot to work on in the first few weeks, but I am very eager to see how this team come together.”
2016 Record: 15-6 2016 Finish: Reached D2 Central Semifinal Coach: Dan Seaver
First year head coach Dan Seaver has a strong mix of returning experienced players and new faces and is excited for what the 2017 Scarlet Hawks can accomplish. Milford returns four players with significant playing time, including the team’s libero Kyra Alves. At the net, Kelley Reichert (outside), Gill Valanzola (outside/middle) and Juliana Tracy (middle) give the Hawks a strong net presence, both offensively and defensively. Elena Nosiglia (opposite) and Kate Lobisser (middle/opposite) are also back and could see increased roles in 2017. Junior Sydney Sutton will join Alves as a defensive specialist to solidify the back line.
“I believe that we have all of the pieces to the puzzle, but it is going to be finding their right spots,” Seaver said. “I think we have great leadership from our senior class and a lot of drive from different players to be good.”
2016 Record: 12-10 2016 Finish: Reached D1 South Quarterfinal Coach: Jeff Crins
North Attleboro is looking to build on its state tournament berth a season ago and take the program a step forward in 2017. And Big Red has a good reason for optimism with so many key pieces back this year. The Rocketeers return their top three hitters from a year ago in Amelia Murphy (204 kills), Katie Demontigny (162 kills) and captain Caroline Vigorito. Leah Marceau is the team’s other captain and was a big piece of North’s defensive game, and a top server on the team.
“We are looking forward to a positive year this year,” Crins said. “We hope to have a stronger record than last year and compete against the top teams in the Hock league this year. With a big senior team this year I have high expectations for them and I am trusting that their experience will help them through some of the tough matches. My hope as a coach is that they come together as a team and really play to their potential.”
2016 Record: 11-11 2016 Finish: Reached D1 South Quarterfinals Coach: Chelsea Cunningham
Oliver Ames lost just three seniors to graduation, which means the majority of the Tigers are back this season and looking to compete in a deep Kelley-Rex division. Four-year varsity player Emma Petrillo (captain) returns as one of the team’s outside hitters and three-year varsity player Katie Flynn (captain) is back to man the right side of the attack. 2016 HockomockSports.com First Team selection Kayla Raymond (captain) will anchor net play from the middle. Sophomore Allie Kemp will step in to handle setting duties while Sadie Homer will lead the defense from the libero spot. Other returning varsity players include senior Maya Fetcho, senior Jacki Kandar, senior Caroline Cavanaugh, Grace McCallum and Jordyn Vella.
“This group of girls are feisty, committed and motivated to say the least; the girls come ready for all practice and have been anticipating for this competitive season to start,” said OA head coach Chelsea Cunningham. “From last year to this year, the chemistry is there for the majority of the team.”
2016 Record: 4-14 2016 Finish: Missed playoffs Coach: Andrea Lovett
Now in their second year under coach Andrea Lovett, the Eagles are looking to take yet another step forward. Returning six seniors, including four starters, is a good start for Lovett. Senior Jess Allan is back after a standout junior season that earned her HockomockSports.com Second Team honors in 2016. Cori Jermyn is also back and will be seeing time at outside hitter this season as the Eagles have found two capable middles to fill those spots. Ariana Chabot will continue as the team’s setter this season for the Eagles.
“I think we have a ton of talent and a group of athletes who are ready to go 100% from the first point to the last in every game,” Lovett said. “It’s going to be an exciting season for Sharon volleyball.”
2016 Record: 10-11 2016 Finish: Reached D2 South First Round Coach: Erica Batchelder
With two key pieces back from its offense a year ago, the Black Knights are looking to compete for the Davenport title and get back to the state tournament. One of the league’s top attacking options, Val Whalen, is back in the middle for Stoughton as well as classmate Jordan Motley. The duo not only provides Stoughton with offense, they are two top defensive options at the net. Senior captain Haley Stone will be tasked with anchoring the back line defensively.
“Stoughton hopes to make it to the postseason again with hard work and communication,” said Stoughton head coach Erica Batchelder.
The Tigers have graduated 20 seniors between the past two seasons, and now will rely on a group of younger players to help get back to the state tournament. However, Taunton has two seniors this season that they will rely on heavily. Sam Reaume (outside/middle) is back after being limited by injury a season ago and will be a top option at the net for the Tigers. Junior Kayli Fagan returns as the team’s setter after a stellar sophomore campaign while McKenzie Lucie (libero) also is back with varsity experience. Senior Rawan Hamie, juniors Kamila Cuevas, Adara Moreno, Sam Martin, Aaliyah Gillenwater, Michaela Felici, Sam Silviera and sophomore Alyssa Turcotte will be looked to fill voids up front while juniors Jaime Brown, Elaine Bodemer and Breanna Fevrier will be tasked with bolstering the defense from the back row.
“Obviously our goal is to get back to the state tournament,” said THS head coach Toby Chaperon. “Being in our league, every match is a grind and every win is hard fought so we know we have our work cut out for ourselves but I think with players like Sam Reaume and Kayli Fagan leading the way we can make a push to get back to the tournament.yeah
Players to Watch
Players are listed alphabetically
Jess Allan, Sharon – A four-year varsity player, Allan emerged as one of the top offensive players in the league last season with 133 kills. Not only is she a top hitter, she is also dangerous serving the ball.
Kyra Alves & Kelley Reichert, Milford – Alves emerged as one of the most reliable defensive players in the league last year. Her ability to read hitters helps put her in the right position to handle attacks and set Milford’s offense in motion. Reichert provided the Hawks with versatility a season ago. She will likely be one of the team’s top attacking options this season and will be one of the league’s top servers.
Kayli Fagan, Taunton – The Tigers had a down year in 2016 but Fagan stepped up and became one of the top setters in the league. Now with Sam Reaume back, Fagan will have a top attacking option to work with.
Meg Hill, Mansfield – Hill has improved every year both offensively and defensively. Her height helps her as one of the top blockers in the league and her power makes her one of the best attacking middles.
Lauren McGrath, Franklin – Even though she was just a sophomore last year, McGrath looked like a seasoned veteran setting the ball in 2016. She will have both middles back to work with this season while she works to create chemistry with outside and opposite hitters.
Amelia Murphy, North Attleboro – Murphy is one of four players back from the 2016 HockomockSports.com First Team. After registering 223 kills and 67 blocks a season ago, expect Big Red to rely on her offensive prowess again this season.
Lexi Pereira, Attleboro – Pereira is a do-it-all type player for Big Blue. Not only was she the team’s leader in kills, she was a top defensive player and a dangerous server as well.
Sydney Phillips, King Philip – Last year’s HockomockSports.com Player of the Year and league MVP is back and will be one of the top all-around players in the league, especially offensively.
Kayla Raymond, Oliver Ames – Raymond led the Tigers in kills (202) and blocks (56) during her junior season. While she will have to adjust to a new setter this season, her ability to attack the ball will help whoever takes over that spot.
Val Whalen, Stoughton – As one of the top middles in the league a year ago, Whalen returns for her senior season. A lot of the offense runs through Whalen but she’s still able to beat opposing defenses who try to stop her.