FRANKLIN, Mass. – After splitting two regular season matchups and sharing the Kelley-Rex division title for the second year in a row, it was fitting that the final game of the volleyball season would see Franklin and King Philip battle it out, not just for the bragging rights, or to win the season series, but also to being home the first Hockomock Cup title.
After jumping in front by winning the opening two sets, Franklin was nearly forced to a decisive fifth set but the Panthers rallied in the fourth, winning six of the final seven points, capped off by a cross-court spike by senior Ally Bonnet-Eymard that snuck inside the line, to seal a 3-1 (25-15, 25-21, 21-25, 25-21) victory.
“The girls never took a single day for granted,” said Franklin coach Samantha Elliott. “They have been 100 percent committed to play, so for them this wasn’t just the first Hock Cup, this was their championship and they’ve been working that way all season.”
KP coach Kristen Geuss was proud of her team’s fight back after a rough opening set and the way the Warriors fought throughout a final that everyone was grateful to see happen.
“I think we played very well,” she said. “To have the opportunity to even play an extra week in this whole thing, it gave us more games and let the girls come out and have fun for another week. We had a great season and they’re a great bunch of girls.”
Franklin took control of the opening set right from the first point. In a reverse of Wednesday’s semifinal against Canton, KP struggled out of the gate and the Panthers put together a 9-0 run to break things open and take a 19-6 lead.
Emma Chase (10 kills) had a block and then a kill on back-to-back points, Bonnet-Eymard (game-high 22 kills) fired a shot past the dive of KP libero Emma Brooks, Taylor Lacerda (seven kills) fired an ace, and then Bonnet-Eymard ended the run with a hit right on the line.
KP tried to build some momentum heading to the second. Giovanna Fruci and Sami Shore each had kills before Bonnet-Eymard picked the corner with an accurate swing. Nicole Coughlan and Ahunna James both got on the board as well with good hits, but the final swing hit the net and Franklin took the quick 1-0 lead.
“I had the confidence that we could come back,” said Geuss. “We have in the past. I thought we could dig deep and we did. The second and third games were much better obviously than the first and I thought they played really well.”
The Warriors did seem to carry some energy over into the second set and a Lily Carlow ace and a block and a kill by James put the visitors up 11-5. Brooks had a point from the back row and James added another of her five kills in the set to keep the lead at five points, but Franklin’s depth along the front line started to pay dividends.
Grace Lacerda, Chase, and Taylor Lacerda recorded three straight points and an angled Chase drive got Franklin back level. After the Panthers took the lead, Coughlan had two straight kills, including one at the end of a long rally that put KP back in front 19-18. Bonnet-Eymard answered with a pinpoint tip and a blast off the blocker.
“That’s the best thing about us, it’s not just Ally,” Elliott said. “Ally is a force to be reckoned with but it’s always every other girl on my team. (Setter) Cailyn [Mackintosh] has the ability to give it to anyone because people watch Ally so if you can give it to someone else it’s going to work out in your favor.”
“She has worked so hard to be as accurate and consistent and connect with every single one of our hitters that we wouldn’t be where we are without her drive and her leadership,” Elliott said about Mackintosh, who finished with 49 assists.
With Franklin up 23-21, Bonnet-Eymard again found space down the line off the dive of Carlow and a shot into the net had the Panthers just a set away from the win.
The last time these teams met, it went to five sets before KP pulled out the win. So, Franklin knew there was still work to be done. The Panthers jumped out to a 14-11 lead in the fourth following a Mackintosh push that eluded the KP defense.
KP responded with four straight points to get in front. With the score tied again at 17-17, KP managed to string together a few points. Fruci started it with a spike and then Coughlan was able to follow with back-to-back points. The senior, who managed to score from both outside positions as well as the middle, had eight kills in the third set alone.
“Nicole makes everything look easy, and it’s not,” Geuss said about Coughlan. “I don’t know how she does it but she makes everything look easy. She will be missed.”
After Bonnet-Eymard got one back for Franklin, Coughlan added two more kills. With the score 24-21, James, just a sophomore, showed off her skills on the outside with a powerful angled drive that secured a fourth set.
The fourth was back-and-forth with neither team able to build larger than a four-point lead. Coughlan and James continued to find any gap in the Franklin defense and the KP back row continued to keep almost every play alive, forcing the Panthers into long rallies.
KP looked like it might be on its way to a decisive fifth set when it rattled off five straight points and took a 12-8 lead. Bonnet-Eymard had the answer with back-to-back kills, the second smashed off the KP block and out. A kill from Lindsey Tarantola tied things up and then an ace by Meghan Linkkila put Franklin in front 13-12.
Shore got KP back within one at 17-16 but Chase came right back with a hit from the middle. James had a pair of kills, including one right off the line to put the Warriors up 19-18, then Carlow’s tough serve got away from the Panthers. Chase and Bonnet-Eymard came right back with kills and tied the set at 20-20.
After a Franklin point, James blasted another kill that tied the game at 21-21, but King Philip (11-2) had an uncharacteristic defensive lapse to put Franklin in front to stay. Brigid Earley followed with a big block, a shot went wide, and then Bonnet-Eymard lined up one last swing, angled across the court into an open spot, handing Franklin (12-1) the win and the cup.
“We knew that the first set was not normal, that we were going to have to work hard for every single point because KP is a fantastic team,” Elliott explained. “Just telling the girls to believe in themselves and to forget what this is and to have fun for their last game to play with each other that they’d be okay, and they were.”
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.”
Milford, 34 @ Franklin, 27 – Final – Click here for a Recap and Photo Gallery from this game. 1st Quarter: (F) Mack Gulla 2-yard rush, XP no good; (M) Carter Scudo 8-yard rush, Nicholas Araujo XP good.
2nd Quarter: (F) Jared Arone 32-yard pass to Will Tracey, Parker Cheuvront XP good; (M) Brady Olson 1-yard rush, N. Araujo XP good; (M) Evan Hazard 35-yard fumble return, N. Araujo XP good; (F) J. Arone 3-yard pass to W. Tracey, P. Cheuvront XP good; (M) B. Olson 1-yard rush, XP no good.
3rd Quarter: No scoring.
4th Quarter: (M) Kevin O’Connor 60-yard interception return, N. Araujo XP good; (F) J. Arone 7-yard pass to Jake O’Brien, P. Cheuvront XP good.
King Philip, 0 @ Mansfield, 28 – Final – Click here for a Photo Gallery from this game. 1st Quarter: (M) Matt Boen 11-yard pass to Everett Knowlton, James Gilleran XP good.
2nd Quarter: (M) Cincere Gill 5-yard rush, 2-point conversion no good; (M) C. Gill 59-yard rush, C. Gill 2-point conversion; (M) C. Gill 10-yard pass to E. Knowlton, J. Gilleran XP good.
3rd Quarter: No scoring.
4th Quarter: No scoring.
Stoughton, 6 @ North Attleboro, 14 – Final – Click here for a Recap and Photo Gallery from this game. 1st Quarter: (NA) Tyler DeMattio 1-yard rush, T. DeMattio XP good.
2nd Quarter: (NA) T. DeMattio 5-yard rush, T. DeMattio XP good.
3rd Quarter: No scoring.
4th Quarter: (S) John Burke 43-yard pass to Christian Ais, XP no good.
Attleboro, 0 @ King Philip, 3 – Final – King Philip held off a late charge from Attleboro in the third set to complete a 3-0 (25-15, 25-12, 25-22) sweep of the Bombardiers. Nicole Coughlan led the offensive charge for the Warriors with 13 kills while Giovanna Fruci added five kills and Sami Shore chipped in with four kills. Lauren Peterson had 19 service points for KP with a pair of aces.
King Philip, 3 @ Attleboro, 0 – Final – King Philip went on the road and picked up a sweep, 3-0 (25-12, 25-16, 25-12), over the Bombardiers. Nicole Coughlan paced the offense for the Warriors with 10 kills and a pair of aces while Giovanna Fruci and Ahunna James each chipped in with six kills apiece. Lily Carlow had a strong day at the service line with six aces.
Oliver Ames, 0 @ Canton, 3 – Final – Canton inched closer to another division title with its second sweep of Oliver Ames this week, this time knocking off the Tigers 3-0 (25-13, 25-15, 25-16). Both Liz Bickett (7 kills, 4 blocks and 10 digs) and Angie Elias (7 kills, 4 aces and 9 digs) had solid all-around outings while Talya DeGraw and Anna Verille both played strong at the net. Jackie Morrissey and Taylor Reynolds combined for 20 assists and ran the court well. For OA, Sarah Morley registered 23 serve receptions, 10 digs, and two aces, Hadley Rhodes added 14 assists, and Caroline Flynn finished with 12 digs.
FRANKLIN, Mass. – For the past seven seasons, the road to the Kelley-Rex division title has gone through either Franklin or Wrentham, and sometimes both.
With an abbreviated season on tap this year, those head-to-head matchups take on extra importance as the Panthers and Warriors of King Philip stand as the favorites for the division crown again this year.
Franklin volleyball King Philip volleyball
Round one of the home-and-home series between the two went to Franklin, who came through in key moments down the stretch in all three sets to earn a 3-0 (25-19, 25-19, 25-22) sweep of the visiting Warriors.
“It comes down to trust, trusting yourself, trusting who you’re on the court with, and trusting all of your teammates,” said first-year Franklin head coach Samantha Elliott. “It’s not a one-person sport, a one-person game…I think they showed a lot of teamwork closing those sets out. We can’t just rely on one person, we have to play our game as a team.”
Franklin battled through adversity during all three sets, the match playing out closer than the 3-0 score would indicate. In both the first and second sets Franklin saw their sizable advantage shrink down in the closing moments of each set. And in the third, the Panthers played from behind for the most part.
Franklin volleyball King Philip volleyball
But when push came to shove, Franklin made the key plays in the key moments. The Panthers fended off KP in the first set by winning the final four points and then repeated that in the second set. After coming back in the third set, the game was tied until Franklin won three straight points to clinch the match.
“They were obviously the better team today,” said King Philip head coach Kristen Geuss, now in her sixth year at the helm of the Warriors. “We kind of hurt ourselves in some ways and we have to work on some things, having to have some practices with the whole team will definitely help. We haven’t had the whole team for one practice yet but that’s no excuse, we have to fix our mistakes.”
Franklin looked on its way to a comfortable win the first set, extending its lead to 19-12 behind a nice tip kill from freshman Taylor Lacerda (seven kills), a tip and block from junior Brigid Earley (six kills), and a nice line shot from senior Ally Bonnet-Eymard (12 kills). But KP had a renewed energy coming out of a timeout, sparked by a block from senior Paige Kannally, a perfectly placed pass over the net from senior Emma Brooks, a good serve from sophomore Ahunna James, and a kill from senior Giovanna Fruci off a nice set from Lauren Peterson that made it 21-18.
Franklin volleyball King Philip volleyball
James added an ace after a Franklin timeout that made it a two-point game but Lacerda landed a big kill, and three straight strong serves from Maia Pilof, including an ace, sealed the 25-19 win.
“King Philip has a great defense and it showed our girls how hard they need to work in order to rally and finish off games,” Elliott said. “And it was good to see them battle tonight and see that they can do it.
“It was a great test for our defense too, they kept us on our toes. We had to switch some things up because both [James] and [Coughlan] were fantastic, definitely players we had to watch out for and try to take away the lanes because they were able to take advantage with some good swings.”
Franklin carried that momentum into the second set as the Panthers won the first seven points, getting a kill from Lacerda, another from senior Emma Chase (four kills, three blocks) on a quick set in the middle, a perfectly weighted tip from Earley, and an ace from junior Cailyn Mackintosh (25 assists).
The Panthers kept that lead for the majority of the set, pushing the advantage to double digits, 16-6, on a kill from Lacerda, but similar to the first set the Warriors made a run to make things interesting. Kills from Fruci and Nicole Coughlan started the run and the Warriors used their momentum to force the Panthers into some errors.
Franklin volleyball King Philip volleyball
A nice swing from the back row from Lily Carloww got KP within three, 20-17, forcing a home timeout. Earley landed a nice kill from the right side and back-to-back KP hitting errors forced a Warrior timeout. KP couldn’t return the ball on back-to-back plays and Bonnet-Eymard finished the set off with an ace.
While Bonnet-Eymard led the Panthers in kills, Franklin’s ability to attack from each spot at the net during multiple rotations helped keep the Warrior defense off-balance. Mackintosh, who is in her second year starting at setter, did a nice job spreading the ball around to get swings from the outside, the middle, and the right side.
“We have 100% full faith in Cailyn to make the right decision,” Elliott said. “She’s been a rock on this team for the past two years, only a junior, she makes great decisions. She trusts everyone on the court too and I think that’s important when it comes to setting and spreading it around. She’s just a junior but it feels like she’s been playing forever.
“And everyone knows who Ally is, she’s such a weapon for us on offense so it’s really important for us to kind of spread things out and keep the defense off-balance, we don’t want the defense to get comfortable, start cheating that way. We have a lot of talent so it makes sense for us to spread it out.”
After falling behind in each of the first two sets, KP had a better start to the third game but Franklin kept pace with the Warriors. The game was tied six times and had seven lead changes in the first 20 points, the teams split 10-10 at that point.
Fruci registered a kill off the block, Coughlan slammed down a kill, and a Franklin net error gave the Warriors a 13-10 lead but Franklin responded with a 6-1 surge with Lacerda, Chase, and Bonnet-Eymard each registering a kill to put the hosts back ahead.
The teams went back-and-forth again, tied at 17, 19, 20, 21, and 22. A hitting error gave Franklin the lead, the Panthers earned a point after a nice swing from Bonnet-Eymard from the back row, and the Panthers clinched the win after another hitting error from the visitors.
“We have to work on our serve receive a little bit more and that just starts everything, it all goes from there,” Guess said. “I think we were a little bit not ready for today, we weren’t prepared for today. It’s a big game against [Franklin] so hopefully Saturday we’ll be ready and not make as many mistakes that we did today.”
Franklin volleyball (3-0) returns to action on Saturday when they hit the road to Wrentham to take on the Warriors in a rematch at 1:00.
Franklin, 3 @ Milford, 0 – Final – Franklin 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 – Final – Click 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 – Final – Oliver 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.
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.”
Trailing 13-12 in the final set, the Warriors won three straight points when senior Kiley Sullivan dumped a second ball to an open space in the Quincy back row, junior Lily Carlow dropped in an ace into the center of the court, and senior Kristen Masse drilled a line shot for a kill that clinched a 3-2 (21-25, 25-14, 25-14, 18-25, 15-13) win for #2 King Philip over #3 Quincy.
“They’ve worked so hard all season, day in and day out,” said King Philip head coach Kristen Geuss. “We’ve had some close games along the way. This game could have gone either way, it really could have. I think that game three gave us a lot of confidence. I know we lost game four but they knew they could it. And they fight to the end, and that’s impressive. Regardless of the outcome tonight, I couldn’t ask for anything more, they’ve been working hard.”
The fifth set was a rollercoaster symbolic of how the entire match went. Quincy jumped ahead with a quick 4-1 lead but the Warriors battled back with a 7-3 run that included a big block from Catherine Waldeck (21 kills, five blocks), aces from Emma Brooks (13 digs, three kills) and Masse (eight kills, four digs), and a double block from Nicole Coughlan (11 kills, three aces, two blocks) and Giovanna Fruci.
After switching sides, the Warriors twice took multi-point leads but Quincy wouldn’t go away. Waldeck had a big block and a kill to take an 11-8 lead but back-to-back points from the President made it a one-point game again.
Waldeck rose up and slammed a free ball down after a good defensive play from the Presidents for a 12-10 advantage but Quincy grabbed momentum back after a service error and a kill, tying it at 12-12.
After a timeout from Geuss, Quincy got a kind roll on a swing that just made it over the net and fell to the floor for a 13-12 lead, forcing Geuss into another timeout.
“I just told them, ‘we can do this.’” Geuss said of the message in the timeout. “We talked about how no ball touches the floor, we had been there before and we can do it again. We struggled with our serves at times so we needed to get our serves over and in. And we did it.”
An errant pass on a serve receive pulled Sullivan out of position but she alertly pushed the second touch deep into Quincy’s side, and with the defense pulled in, the ball fell to the floor to make it 13-13.
Carlow followed up but delivering a dipping ace right over the net and between the front and back rows to put KP on the verge of the win. After handling a Quincy swing, Sullivan set Masse up and she placed a perfect shot down the line for the win.
“We’re deep,” Geuss said of having so many players make plays down the stretch. “We work on these situations in practice and we talk about how not everything needs to be a kill. You look for the open spots, play smart. Sometimes it’s better to play smarter than to play harder.”
The opening set went back-and-forth with each team trying to feel the other out. The teams were tied six times over the first 22 points. King Philip had its largest lead behind a block from Waldeck, and then a double block from Waldeck and Ali McNamara to go up 17-12.
But Quincy fed off the energy of home court advantage and rallied with a 7-2 to knot the game at 19-19. KP won the next two points on back-to-back kills from Sullivan and Masse but Quincy won the final six points to secure a 25-21 win and a 1-0 advantage.
King Philip grabbed a small cushion early and held onto that for the majority of the match. A quick 5-2 burst midway through the set that featured a pair of kills from Waldeck gave King Philip a 15-10 advantage, and the Warriors never looked back from there. KP finished with a 10-4 run with Coughlan getting a pair of kills and using a strong serve late that helped clinch the win.
“Our defense, they’ve played well all year long,” Geuss said. “They are the start of everything. They don’t get the glamour but they set everything up for us.”
The momentum carried over for the Warriors, and they put on a stellar performance in the third game to take a lead in the match.
KP raced out a 15-5 lead with Waldeck, Coughlan, Carlow, Brooks (back row), and McNamara all recording kills early in the set, and Lauren Peterson chipping in with an ace and a handful of strong sets.
Quincy picked up a little steam late in the set but King Philip finished it off behind a tip kill from Waldeck, a block kill from Coughlan, and an ace from Brooks for the Warriors’ second straight 25-14 win.
“My two middles have been incredible the whole year,” Geuss said of Waldeck and Coughlan. “They are our go-to players. We have some strong outsides but our middles have gotten it done all year so whenever we can, we go to our middles.”
The fourth set resembled the first, with it being close throughout before Quincy pulled away. Besides an early lead, KP’s only advantage came at 14-3 after a terrific save on a loose ball from Sullivan. But Quincy took the lead with a 6-2 run and never looked back, eventually winning 25-18.
King Philip volleyball (18-4) is back in the D1 Central/East Sectional Final and will take on #4 Boston Latin (14-6) on Saturday at Wellesley High with the start time still to be determined.
With the win, Franklin moves into a first-place tie atop the division with the Warriors with four league games left apiece
“The girls are much more confident compared to the beginning of the year,” said Franklin head coach Kelsey Weymouth. “They were playing together for the first time then and now they’ve gotten a lot more comfortable in their roles. They know who does what, how girls like their sets, they are learning to do their jobs. I think they were all trying to do too much when the season started.”
The Panthers used a balanced attack offensively and a strong net presence defensively to earn the win.
“Sometimes you’ll have a player or two that’s on, or a player or two that’s having an off night,” Weymouth said. “But tonight everyone was playing well, it was great to see.”
Franklin got off to a strong start, building a 10-7 lead. The Panthers went on an 8-2 run that featured a big kill from Lyons through a block. KP got within four points but Franklin hit back with four straight, punctuated by a kill from Bonnet-Eymard.
The teams traded points before a pair of KP errors set the Panthers’ up for set point. Off a set from sophomore Cailyn Mackintosh (26 assists, 12 digs, three aces), Chase hit around a block in the middle and hit the line for a kill to secure the 1-0 advantage.
It was all Franklin in the second set. The Panthers jumped out to a 5-1 lead and kept that advantage over the first 15 points. The separation came in the form of an 11-3 run that featured an ace from Bonnet-Eymard, a kill from Sarah Jackson, and a kill from Lyons off a KP block.
Holding a 19-8 lead, the Panthers finished the set behind another two kills from Bonnet-Eymard, including one that hit the 10-foot line on a cross court shot. In the set, KP only mustered five earned points.
“We didn’t play our game,” said KP head coach Kristen Geuss. “The better team won tonight. Our energy was definitely better in game three. We tend to start off slow, and unfortunately, we didn’t pick it up quickly enough.
“We couldn’t get more than a few points in a row. We’d win a point but then we ‘d have an unforced error or a serving error. You can’t win playing that kind of volleyball.”
But the Warriors were a completely different team with their backs against the wall in the third set. Senior Catherine Waldeck (15 kills, four blocks) gave the visitors an early spark, scoring four of KP’s first five points. Two came in the form of blocks while two were kills.
It was a lead that KP never surrendered, though the Panthers made a strong push to keep it close. Junior Nicole Coughlan (11 kills) had back-to-back big swings and junior Giovanna Fruci came up with a big block to give KP an 8-4 edge early.
An ace from Kristen Masse gave the Warriors a 13-7 advantage, and freshman Ahunna James and Waldeck had consecutive tip kills that forced the hosts into a timeout at 15-9.
Behind some strong serves from Jackson, the Panthers kept pace with KP, even getting within three on a kill from Mikayla Raffin. But the Warriors never let the lead slip, getting a key ace down Lauren Peterson.
Fruci, Coughlan, and Waldeck each recorded a kill to earn three of the final four points for KP, with the latter getting the set sealing shot to keep the Warriors alive in the match.
Both sides started strong in the fourth set with the teams tied at 6-6 and again at 8-8. But from there, the Panthers were able to slowly pull away to secure the win.
The big difference came in the form of a quick 6-0 burst that put the Panthers up 14-8. Bonnet-Eymard had a kill and an ace, Jackson added a block, and KP had three hitting errors in the sequence.
“I think the girls were a little too comfortable in the third set but they did a great job of coming back in the fourth,” Weymouth said. “We changed a couple of things up but we went back to what they are confident in and were able to pull away.”
KP got within four points with the help of a kill from James and a net violation, but Franklin’s Sarah Jackson landed a kill on the next play and the Panthers never looked back. Bridget Jackson had a solo block and combined with Bonnet-Eymard for another one down the stretch to help finish the match.
Franklin used a double block on KP’s middle attacks throughout the match, with Jackson and Bonnet-Eymard’s last block highlight the success it had.
“We brought [the double block] anytime they went to the middle,” Weymouth said. “They got their share of hits but we were able to get some good blocks. We practiced it yesterday, we wanted to try and get four hands on the hit. Our blocking was on point tonight. The middles did a good job setting the block, and the defense around it did great too.”
Franklin volleyball (10-2 Hockomock, 11-2 overall) is back in action on Thursday with a trip to Franklin. King Philip (10-2, 12-3) will look to bounce back at home against Taunton on the same day.