Rocketeers Rally For Key Division Win Over Stoughton

North Attleboro volleyball
North Attleboro’s Tori Melanson hits around a block attempt from Stoughton’s Jordan Motley. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
 
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
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.”

Click here for a photo gallery from this 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.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

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.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Volleyball: 2017 Hockomock League Preview

2017 Hockomock Volleyball Preview

By HockomockSports.com Staff

2017 Hockomock Volleyball Preview

Attleboro

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.”

Canton

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!”

Foxboro

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.

Franklin

2016 Record: 13-7
2016 Finish: Reached D1 Central/West Quarterfinal
Coach: Kate Horsmann

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.”

King Philip

2016 Record: 19-3 (Kelley-Rex Division Champions)
2016 Finish: Reached D1 Central/East Semifinal
Coach: Kristen Geuss

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.”

Mansfield

2016 Record: 15-6
2016 Finish: Reached D1 South Semifinal
Coach: Melissa Heeden

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.”

Milford

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.”

North Attleboro

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.”

Oliver Ames

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.”

Sharon

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.”

Stoughton

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.

Taunton

2016 Record: 5-14
2016 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Toby Chaperon

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.