FRAMINGHAM, Mass. – Trailing 7-2 at the start of the second set, King Philip was struggling to find the same energy that they started Wednesday night’s Div. 2 state semifinal with, but the Warriors were hardly going to panic. Instead of rushing and trying to get back into the set on one play, KP stuck to its plan.
Melrose was playing well and led 13-7 in the second, but the Warriors went on an 8-2 run to tie the set. Even after the Redhawks regained the lead with back-to-back points, KP seemed unperturbed and won 10 of the next 13 points to go up 2-0 in the match.
The benefit of having six players who were part of last year’s Final Four run was never more apparent. KP would hold off Melrose in the third set, winning 3-0 (25-18, 25-20, 25-22) at Framingham High to advance to the program’s first ever state championship game.
“I think the six of them who had been here last year definitely came with experience, they knew what expect all along,” said KP coach Kristen Geuss. “It was a total team effort. They have been giving 110 percent since day one. They had their sights set very high, I couldn’t be happier for them to get this far and they’re still working and giving 100 percent in practice every day.”
“We already knew the feeling going into the game and I think that made us want to push even more because of how the game went last year,” said senior hitter Ahunna James. “Reliving all those memories, and even rewatching our game from last year, we were really prepared and knew what we had to fix.”
KP came into the night on a seven-game win streak, having not dropped a set since a loss to Attleboro almost exactly a month ago. In the opening set on Wednesday, the Warriors kept rolling right along.
Emily Sawyer (14 kills) dropped a tip over the block and then had back-to-back kills. Kate O’Neil followed with a block, which forced an early Melrose timeout, and a big swing to put the Warriors in front 7-2. KP wouldn’t allow Melrose any closer than four points for the remainder of the set.
The front line of Sawyer, James, Sami Shore, and Olivia and Kate O’Neil was just too deep for the Redhawks on both sides of the net. KP was creating points with the block and overpowering Melrose at the net. The spark for KP’s fast start on attack was the play of setter Kiera Hagen, whose consistent passing and her defense on the back line (along with libero Ava Kelley) gave the hitters plenty of chances to swing.
Olivia O’Neil served consecutive aces and then won a third service point to extend the lead out to 10. After Melrose cut it back down to six, Kate O’Neil smacked one off the block for a point and Sawyer got a point on her serve. The Redhawks kept battling, but James (seven digs) had a block and a pair of kills to seal the first set.
KP had the momentum and seemed to be in complete control, but the Warriors were sluggish to start the second set and the Redhawks took advantage behind impressive outside hitter Gia Vlajkovic. Melrose led 7-2 and 13-7 and were dominating play at the net, with Chloe Gentile and Anna Shoemaker both getting blocks and points in the middle.
The Warriors never looked bothered by the early deficit, trusting that they would eventually go on a run and pull themselves back into the set. Shore had a kill and Sawyer an ace to cut the lead to just one at 15-14, forcing a Melrose timeout, before another pinpoint Sawyer serve tied things up.
A block from Sadie Jaggers put the Redhawks back up by two, but Shore snuck a swing inside the back line and then also hit one down into the block to tie things at 18-18. James fired an ace and Olivia O’Neil went cross-court with angled swing to go up two. Sawyer would make it a three-point lead with a hit that the officials ruled was tipped. The Sacred Heart-commit added a block and another big swing to close things out and make it 2-0.
“I think we were a lot more fragile last year,” James explained. “During practice we tried yelling at each other when we started serving and just trying to send ourselves into that fragile moment, so when we were in that moment in the match we’d get out of it.”
Geuss said, “To see them come back is phenomenal. They just need to believe in what they can do and I think if they can just keep the pressure on, play their game, I think that’s hugely important.”
KP made sure to get off to a much better start to the third, jumping ahead 7-1. Shore and James went back-to-back with swings to extend the lead to 10-4 and Sawyer ended a long rally with a kill. Hagen dropped in an ace to make it 18-10 and it looked like the Warriors were going to cruise into the final.
Credit to Melrose, the Redhawks made sure to add a little drama to the third set, going on a 9-2 run to cut the lead down to just one. Ava McSorley had a couple of aces and Leah Fowke had one during the run. Shore stepped up in the big moment, recording a block and then a kill to make it 22-19.
When asked about how much fun it is to play with Sawyer and Shore along the front line, James said, “It’s really nice because if one of the three of us is down, we know there’s always someone who can help us get out of that moment. The three of us are always watching each other’s backs.”
After Melrose took the next two points, Missy Canning got into the act with a kill. O’Neil added a swing from the outside and Canning closed out the match with a swing from the right that the Redhawks couldn’t run down, sealing KP’s progress to the final day of the season.
“It’s just so amazing for us,” Shore said. “We really wanted it last year but that gave us more motivation to come out this year and take it.”
She added, “We’re definitely on an upward track right now. It feels amazing to know that we made a little part of KP history and we’re excited for a chance to play for the state championship.”
King Philip (22-2) will play for the Div. 2 state title on Saturday at 12:30 at Worcester State against unbeaten top seed Westboro.
ATTLEBORO, Mass. — The Attleboro volleyball team was on the verge of completing an epic five-set thriller over one of the best teams in the state in King Philip, but in a blink of an eye, the Bombardiers’ six-point lead was gone.
Once holding a 12-6 lead in the deciding final set, Attleboro saw the Warriors rally for six straight points to tie the game and steal the momentum back. On top of that, Attleboro sent a free ball back instead of a swing, and KP was set up for a big attack in the middle.
But a huge double block from senior Tigin Bombardier and junior Natalie Brojek gave Attleboro the edge once again, and after trading points, sophomore Julia Leonardo (29 kills, 21 digs) landed a kill on a back row attack to secure a 3-2 (17-25, 25-17, 12-25, 25-21, 15-13) win.
“Tonight was huge,” said Attleboro head coach Mary Katherine Runey. “We knew going into this was going to be a massive match and I think it really showed the resiliency of our girls, especially being so young. We only have a couple of returners from last year so this was a true test for us, can we make the right plays in a big game? We had some moments where we showed our youth but in the end, we showed we’re capable of playing at this level.”
After splitting the first two sets, King Philip took a 2-1 lead after dominating the third set (25-12). The Bombardiers showed a lot of resolve in the fourth set as they saw a 12-10 lead turn into a 16-12 deficit. But just as quickly as their lead disappeared, it came back as the Bombardiers rattled off five straight points, including an ace from Addie Shelton, a nice push down the line by Leonardo, and an ace from Julia Mondello.
KP’s Emily Sawyer (eight kills, three blocks) traded kills with Leonardo, a service error put the Bombardiers on the brink and Leonardo once again used a back row attack to end it, 25-21.
King Philip came out with the win in the first set after a see-saw battle throughout. The Warriors led by three or four points for the majority of the set but really pulled away after getting a huge block from Kate O’Neil, a block from Sawyer, and an ace from Shore.
The second set played out similarly but it was Attleboro who claimed a three or four-point advantage by the midway point. Ellie Shelton, Addie Shelton, and Leonardo all registered kills off of assists from Brojek (39 assists, 14 digs), who did a great job throughout the match giving the Bombardiers a chance at attacking swings. Sadie Whitmarsh (23 digs) provided strong defense in the win.
“Who isn’t good at the net for [King Philip]?” said Runey. “We had to be strategic with where we were putting the ball on offense, we wanted to try to get them into mistakes passing and try and get their setter off the net which will help us defensively. We’re slowly working on our double block, which is something we want to utilize more throughout the playoffs. Both of their middles and Ahunna can put the ball at the one, and that throws any team off when their setter has to play true defense. I was very proud of the way both Natalie and Julia Mondello played in the back row tonight.”
Attleboro couldn’t have asked for a better start to the final set. Sami Shore (10 kills, six aces, four digs) scored the first point for KP after a nice dig from Ava Kelley (19 digs) but then it was six straight for the hosts: three errors from KP, an ace from Addie Shelton (seven kills, seven digs, four aces), a kill from Ellie Shelton (four kills), and another from Leonardo.
King Philip chipped away with a big block from Sawyer, a couple of Attleboro errors, some terrific defense from Ahunna James (11 kills, 25 digs, two blocks), and a clever dump from senior setter Kiara Hagen on the second touch to catch the defense, making it 12-12 before Attleboro finished it off.
“I think we can learn from this, playing a team like this and this is the first time we’ve gone to five sets all season,” said King Philip head coach Kristen Geuss. “We needed this…we needed to play in this atmosphere, we needed the crowd yelling at us, we needed this going forward. Attleboro played great, they are a great team and I give them total credit. Their program has really turned around which is so good to see. That being said, we made a lot of mistakes. We had a lot of unforced errors that we don’t usually do. But again, this environment was different so I think this is good for us.
“This was a hard loss but it was a well-fought match. What it does is open our eyes. We have to step up and stop the unforced errors. We came back in that fifth set, I was happy about that. That shows we can dig in. But a few points here or there against good teams can change things.”
Attleboro volleyball (12-1 Hockomock, 14-1 overall) takes sole possession of first place in the Kelley-Rex division with three matches to go. The Bombardiers are on the road the rest of the way, starting with a trip to Taunton on Wednesday ahead of a huge showdown with Franklin on Monday. King Philip (11-2, 14-2) will look to bounce back on Wednesday at Milford.
WRENTHAM, Mass. – When the teams met for the first time, just three games into the new season, Franklin earned a three-set sweep on its home court in a match that was much closer than its overall final score (two of the sets went beyond 25 points). King Philip hosted the second meeting on Thursday night at the Wooden Gym and the opening set was just as competitive.
The Warriors were able to pull out the first set this time around, winning it 27-25, and KP carried the momentum into a 3-0 (27-25, 25-16, 25-19) sweep, a 12th straight win, and a split of the season series.
“I think that for us it was huge,” KP coach Kristen Geuss explained. “I think it gave us a little boost of confidence going into the second set. That first set could’ve gone either way, much like the first time we played them. Just having a win gets us going even more and that momentum takes us into the next set.”
KP got off to a strong start in front of the home crowd, taking an 8-3 lead when sophomore setter Madison Asprelli laid out to keep the point alive and Sami Shore finished it with a spike off the blockers. Franklin wasted no time coming right back, with an 8-2 run of its own to take an 11-10 lead. Jennifer Soohoo and Taylor Lacerda had kills and freshman Makayla Kuykendall’s ace put the Panthers in front for the first time.
From that point to the end of the first set, neither team was able to lead by more than three points and the intensity, the energy, the speed, and the quality of play was all at the highest level.
The Warriors came back with a pair of kills from Olivia O’Neil and one from middle hitter Emily Sawyer. Soohoo answered with a nice tip and Lacerda found the court with a big swing. Rachel Taylor caught KP leaning and dropped a bump in for a point, Cate Roberge had a kill, Grace Lacerda got a block and Taylor fired an ace to make it 19-16 for the Panthers.
Shore smashed another shot off the block and put KP back in front with an impressive block right in the center of the net. With the home crowd and the home bench getting excited, Kuykendall stepped up again with a shot through the block to tie it at 21 apiece. Her ace put the Panthers up 23-22, but KP came right back with two points, including a spike from Sawyer.
Grace Lacerda picked out the far corner with an accurate shot to tie it and then found the floor with a nice tip to make it 25-25. Sawyer continued to overpower the Franklin block to put the Warriors in front and when the ball hit the net on the final point of a breathless set, it was KP that was on top.
There was no let off for the Panthers at the start of the second, as KP jumped out to a 7-1 lead behind two kills and a block from Sawyer. Franklin’s energy remained high, but the Panthers were struggling to make accurate passes and the errors early in the set proved costly.
“We made too many mistakes at the start of the second to keep that momentum up,” Redmond admitted. “We finished that first set still feeling good because it was close and high energy and it was really good volleyball, but to start any set against a really great team with a lot of errors kills all the momentum.”
Franklin did put together a run in the middle of the set to close within two at 10-8, Lacerda finished off a long rally and a replayed point with kills. Missy Canning and O’Neil answered back to push the lead back to four and Ahunna James dropped in a powerful serve to keep the lead growing.
After Lacerda’s kill made it 17-13, KP went on an 8-3 run to close out the set. James powered one through the block and Shore had another big block in the middle. Shore would end the second with kills on two of the final three points to put KP on the brink of the win.
While a lot of attention rightly goes to the team’s hitters. Geuss gave credit to her back line, including Kate O’Neil, Shea Mellman, and libero Ava Kelley, who helped keep plays alive for setters Asprelli and Fiona Bailey to tee up the hitters.
“It’s totally a team effort,” Geuss said. “Our passes were so good this time. Everyone played really, really well. I think it was a total team effort to get the ball to our hitters. It all starts in that back row and they really great today.”
Franklin needed a spark to keep the match alive, but the third set started with another KP run. The Warriors this time pushed the lead to 8-1, with James and Sawyer recording kills and O’Neil providing a block. The Panthers scored three straight on kills by Taylor and Grace Lacerda and and ace from Sasha Tracey, cutting the lead to 12-9.
As she did all match, Shore had the answer. Her well-placed tip fell in for a point and she followed it with yet another block. James added an ace and the lead was back up to six in an instant. Soohoo had a kill and a block to bring the Panthers back again, at 15-13, but Olivia O’Neil and Sawyer had kills to give KP a more comfortable cushion.
Things went back-and-forth down the stretch. James fired a swing to the back row and Taylor Lacerda matched it. James came right back with another accurate hit, Kuykendall went down the line to respond, and Kate O’Neil tipped one off the blockers and out.
Canning would get the final swing for the Warriors, securing a season split for the third straight year.
KP and Franklin have been the class of the Kelley-Rex division for the past decade. One or the other has been league champion for the last nine seasons and the two have shared the crown each of the past three years (with Oliver Ames grabbing a third of the title in 2019). Both coaches noted that the rivalry and the level of volleyball the two teams play against each other will only help prepare for the playoffs to come.
“KP is a fantastic program and it’s great to play them this close to the end,” Redmond said. “They’re high energy, it’s great volleyball, and it’s a lot of fun to watch. It’s stressful, but it’s fun.
Geuss added, “Franklin is so good. They’re always so good. You have to play at your top when you play against them. We have to prepare for moving on and to see a team like Franklin come, it’s great experience for us.”
King Philip (14-1) will come back on Monday night with another title showdown, facing surprise division co-leader Attleboro. Franklin (10-3) will be home on Monday to face Taunton, hoping for an Attleboro upset to possibly share the title again this fall.
2021 Record: 9-10 2021 Finish: Reached Div. 1 Round of 32 Coach: Mary Katherine Runey
For the first time in more than a decade, Attleboro got the taste of playoff volleyball and the Bombardiers have younger players stepping into leadership positions that will give them a solid foundation for another tournament run. There is excitement around the program and opening the new gym has added another layer to the fall.
One of the reasons for the energy in the team is sophomore outside hitter Julia Leonardo, who jumped in as a freshman and became one of the most dynamic hitters in the league. Junior setter Natalie Brojek has been an all-around standout for the past two seasons and makes the team click. Senior Tigin Bombardier will give Attleboro experience in the middle.
Those are the only three returning players from last year, but there are several new faces that could make an instant impact. Sophomores Addison and Ellie Shelton are new hitters that will give depth on the outside. Juniors Sadie Whitmarsh and Julia Mondello will provide defensive solidity to the back line.
“The level of success we achieved last season certainly changed the tone of our entire program, and I believe our future is bright,” said Attleboro coach Mary Katherine Runey. “As a young team, we have spent the past two weeks learning how to play together and in the next few weeks, we will need to learn how to win together. As we progress through the season, our goal is to minimize errors in order to efficiently run our offense and showcase the talent within our team.”
2021 Record: 15-7 2021 Finish: Reached Div. 2 Round of 16 Coach: Pat Cawley
Canton has established itself as one of the perennial powers year in and year out, and one thing that comes with that territory is graduating a handful of talented seniors each year. Last year was no exception, but Hall of Fame coach Pat Cawley has shown time and time again she will have a competitive squad that’s much better by the end of the season than the start.
The Bulldogs graduated all but two starters, bringing back juniors Jess Wright at outside hitter and Fatima Sidibay at middle blocker. Cawley will be leaning heavily on them for their guidance of a young and inexperienced squad. Wright isn’t just one of the best outside hitters, she can play just about anywhere on the court and showed tremendous growth throughout last season. After showing off some great blocking skills last year, the Dogs will look for some more offensive production on swings from the middle from Sidibay. Senior captain Liana Lamparelli and sophomore Sally Hoban will provide depth offensively.
Defensively, Canton is looking at sophomore defensive specialist Zoe Scibelli, who saw meaningful minutes in the back row a year ago. Haley Duhaime, Liz Beale, Neveah Osborne, and Riley Costa round out the senior class and will contribute valuable minutes for Canton this year.
“We have many moving parts at this point but the young, inexperienced group is willing to work hard and anxious to learn,” Cawley said. “Three setters and several defensive players are vying for time on the court. The growth potential is exponential and it will be fun to watch the progression. The extremely competitive Hock will help accelerate the learning curve!”
2021 Record: 4-17 2021 Finish: Reached Div. 3 Round of 32 Coach: Vicki Santana
With 11 seniors returning to the roster this year, Foxboro is looking to have a bounce-back year and return to the state tournament with an improved rating in the MIAA’s statewide system.
The Warriors have key pieces back at all spots on the court and head coach Vicki Santana is optimistic about the season after a strong showing so far this preseason. Sami Sloan led the squad with 111 kills last season and is back as one of the outside hitters along with Juliana Pettigrew (88 kills) and Ava Hill. Foxboro also has both of its middles back with Mallorie Meyer, a Hock all star a year ago with 80 kills and 46 aces, and Ava Kirk both returning.
Defensively, the Warriors have their libero back in the lineup in senior Shannon McElhinney, who had 157 digs last year and was a Hock honorable mention selection.
“All of these players bring a love for the sport and determination to win,” Santana said. “We only graduated two seniors last year so we are hoping that with most of the team being returning varsity players we will have a very competitive season. So far the team has been playing great at our preseason scrimmages so hopefully, we carry that energy into our first game vs Milford!”
2021 Record: 18-2 (Kelley-Rex co-champion) 2021 Finish: Reached Div. 1 Final Four Coach: Samantha Redmond
Although Franklin only graduated a small number of seniors from last year’s team that made the Division 1 state semifinals, the Panthers lost a lot of production.
Gone are Caitlyn Mackintosh, last year’s HockomockSports Player of the Year, Lindsey Tarantola, a league all star that led the league in blocks, and Brigid Earley, one of the top middles in the Hock. But this isn’t the first time the Panthers have lost a talented senior class, multiple all stars, or even an MVP – and they’ve always found a way to come back and compete as a top team in the league.
Three-year starter Taylor Lacerda returns to pace the offense, leading the Panthers in kills a year ago as a sophomore with 155. She’s the lone six rotation returner in the group so head coach Samantha Redmond – who picked up a boost on the bench with the addition of former head coach Kelsey Weymouth as an assistant – will be looking for new faces to step into key roles at the net.
There will be some changes along the backline as senior Meghan Linkkila will move from the libero position to take over as the setter, and classmate and fellow captain Georgia Harvey, who was a defensive specialist last year, will take on the libero role.
“Franklin volleyball is really excited to continue our hard work this year,” Redmond said. “We lost a strong four seniors last year but we are confident that this new class of players will bring a lot of diversity to our offense and defense. We look forward to proving ourselves in the Hockomock once again!”
2021 Record: 22-2 (Kelley-Rex co-champion) 2021 Finish: Reached Div. 2 Final Four Coach: Kristen Geuss
King Philip has shared the Kelley-Rex title for the past three seasons and with a senior-laden roster, the Warriors look ready to make a push for another division crown. After a run to the Div. 2 state semifinal. KP has the experience and the depth at the net to be a threat for another deep tournament run.
The Warriors will be strong up front. Senior middle Emily Sawyer made her varsity debut as a junior and immediately became one of the best hitters in the league. The Sacred Heart-commit is an impact player on both sides of the net. Senior Sami Shore gives KP the most dynamic middle pairing in the league and can dominate a match. If teams try to bottle up the middle of the net, then senior Ahunna James can take over on the outside, giving KP great attacking balance. Seniors Olivia O’Neil and Missy Canning add depth at hitter and senior setter Kiera Hagen will run the offense this year.
In addition to the seniors, KP can count on junior right-side Kate O’Neil and juniors Ryann O’Sullivan, Emily Zappala, and Fiona Bailey on the outside. On the back line, juniors Shea Mellman, Ava Kelley, and Meghan Sullivan provide strong defensive play. Sophomore setter Madison Asprelli is a newcomer who could step into a bigger role over the course of the season.
“We are working hard to build on our success from last year,” said KP coach Kristen Geuss. “We have good chemistry and the girls are looking forward to the season.”
2021 Record: 9-8 2021 Finish: Reached Div. 2 Round of 32 Coach: Tara DeGirolamo
Making the switch to the Davenport division this season, Mansfield is looking to ride a mix of veterans and new players to some success on the court this year.
Second-year head coach Tara DeGirolamo is excited for the season to get underway as she tries to fit all the right pieces together for her squad. Junior Elyssa Buchanan burst onto the scene as an attacking option last year and will be one of the Hornets’ go-to hitters on the outside along with senior Ella Mahoney. In the middle, Lexie Scibilia will be looking to build on her big season last year (48 blocks) along with senior Lily Campbell.
There are a lot of options at setter with senior captain Isabella Flint (132 assists) back as one of the primary ball handlers with junior Kiera Fitzpatrick and freshman Tessa Blaqueir both in the mix as well. The setters will also have options on the right side with senior captain Lilly Verheggan and junior Anna Goulet taking swings from the opposite side, with senior Savannah Carey and juniors Sophia Capaolupo and Elena O’Keefe providing depth.
Defensively, DeGirolamo will lean on senior libero Jackie Zelic to anchor the defense along with junior defensive specialists Lauren Rubicine and Jocelyn Gibson.
“Our setters have great court awareness and mesh very well with our diverse group of hitters,” DeGirolamo said. “We’re excited for the season.”
2021 Record: 8-11 2021 Finish: Reached Div. 2 Round of 32 Coach: Tammy Webber
Between a handful of varsity returners and a group of eager new faces ready to make their mark, Milford is looking to challenge in the Kelley-Rex and book a spot in the state tournament.
The heart of the Hawks will be in the middle of the lineup with the team’s leader in kills from a year ago Aliza Syed back to anchor both the offense and the defense. She had a breakout season with 187 kills, 61 aces, and 34 blocks, which were all first on the team. She will be flanked by junior Maeve Driscoll on the outside, who jumps into the starting lineup this year and will play in the back row as well. Senior Molly Hartman provides depth at the outside hitter spot.
“[Aliza] will be counted on to carry us in those categories once again this season,” said Milford head coach Tammy Webber. “She is strong and athletic with a tough serve and can hit with power.”
Milford also returns its starting setter in senior captain Emily Croteau, who finished inside the top five in the league in assists last season. Having a year of experience under her belt, the Hawks will lean on her confidence and skill to spread the ball around and run the offense. Senior defensive specialist Carley Haley will anchor the backline.
2021 Record: 9-10 2021 Finish: Reached Div. 2 Round of 32 Coach: Rachel Gould
After making a push for a playoff spot last season, North Attleboro will make a change on the sidelines as Rachel Gould takes over this fall. The Rocketeers will also be returning to the ultra-competitive Kelley-Rex division and with five varsity players back in the lineup North will be looking to fight for another tournament spot.
The senior class will need to provide leadership for the new faces in this year’s squad. Senior Avery Bitar will give the team a defensive solidity as the libero. Senior Grace Dirschel is the returning setter from last season and senior Sarah Kayata is another strong backline player that should help North keep points alive.
Up front, seniors Haley Carr and Mariah Barbosa are returning middle hitters that can step in and swing and also make an impact on the block. Freshman Lincoln Abramaitys will get the chance to shine right from the start as the team’s main outside hitter. Abramaitys is the only underclassman on the roster this year.
“I have a great group of hard-working talented athletes and I think we are going to have a competitive season this year,” Gould explained.
2021 Record: 16-5 (Davenport champion) 2021 Finish: Reached Div. 2 Round of 16 Coach: Chelsea Cunningham
Oliver Ames is ready to get on the court and defend its Davenport division title.
The Tigers know they’ll be challenged by perennial powerhouse Canton, division newcomer Mansfield, a veteran-filled Foxboro squad, and the rest of the division, and they’ll have to overcome the graduation of the versatile Hadley Rhodes, but OA has some top talent returning at almost every position.
Senior Maddie Homer is back for yet another season as the libero to anchor the back line. An All-State selection a year ago, Homer will be joined by junior Rachel Fleischman, another returner, in the back row to give the Tigers an experienced defensive duo.
Offensively, there will be more familiar faces taking swings at the net. Senior captain Courtney Raymond (56 kills, 18 blocks) is back in the middle as one of OA’s primary attackers and she’ll be complemented by a pair of terrific outside hitters in junior Sarah Hilliard (272 kills) and Claire O’Rourke (156 kills). Sophomore Addyson Smock bolsters the middle block while sophomore Clare Kavoulis and junior Paula Romero provide some depth.
“There is something special about this group,” said OA head coach Chelsea Cunningham. “The talent speaks for itself, they’re putting in the work, and they are eager to compete. These girls know everything is “earned not given” – which happens to be our program’s motto this season. With that, they know there’s a lot of work to do to make this the best season yet. If they commit to one another and the goals we set from the start, there’s no doubt in my mind that they’ll do just that.”
2021 Record: 6-14 2021 Finish: Reached Div. 2 Round of 32 Coach: Andrea Lovett
It has been two straight impressive seasons for the Sharon volleyball program. Two years ago, during Fall II, the Eagles nearly won a league title and would’ve booked a playoff spot if a tournament was held. Last season, Sharon not only reached the state tournament but also won its first-round match against Revere. With a brand new gym and five seniors on the roster, Sharon will be hoping the momentum carries over to this fall.
Sharon will be counting on the development of its senior hitters. Amanda Brown will be the main target on the outside, while Olivia Nau has been impressive on the right side. The middle should be tough on both sides of the net with junior Jasmine Davis stepping up as both a blocker and hitter and senior Sam Dunham adding depth after her move up from the JV team. Junior Sonja Gray will be the main setter for the team again this season with help from classmate Masha Dolienkova.
The Eagles also have experience on the back line and players with athleticism to keep points alive. Senior Emily Coplan and junior Sophia Pandey will share the libero duties and sophomore Sasha Nierenberg and senior Evelina Kravets will support them as defensive specialists.
“Possibly the most important aspect of this team is their love of the game combined with a great work ethic and the tenacity to stay in the game regardless of the score,” said Sharon coach Andrea Lovett, who returns to the sidelines after being an assistant in 2021. “These kids simply love volleyball and it shows on the court.”
2021 Record: 1-15 2021 Finish: Missed postseason Coach: Felicia Baptista
Stoughton is coming off a difficult 2021 season. The Black Knights picked up just one win last fall, but they have several new faces that could step in and get the program heading back into tournament contention. It may be a smaller roster this season, but head coach Felicia Baptista believes the talent and attitude are right to get things kicked off.
Junior Maya Ashu will be one of the primary attacking threats for Stoughton this season. She will be a critical spot in the front row and has developed into a strong hitter. Junior hitter Annalia Eschleman is also back and will give Stoughton more athleticism. Senior Patrik Oliveira has been a standout on the back row and gives the Black Knights all-around play with his quickness and versatility.
Other players that could step into the starting lineup for Stoughton this season are sophomore Reagan Lewis and junior Alyssa Edwards. Both are strong athletes that will give the Black Knights more control of the middle of the net.
“This year our team is much smaller and much more prepared than in past seasons,” said Baptista. “They have been putting in lots of work this year and it shows right from day one.”
2021 Record: 8-14 2021 Finish: Reached Div. 1 Round of 32 Coach: Toby Chaperon
Taunton boasts a strong group of seniors, and with the addition of some underclassmen and new additions to the program, the Tigers are looking for an improved campaign in 2022.
Senior middle Hayley Krockta will be a force at the net this season but can play at all spots on the court. She will be one of the best servers on the team and can step right in and pass like a defensive specialist. She’ll be swinging at sets off the fingertips of classmate Anna Abouzied, another returner for the Tigers. Abouzied is a terrific passer in the back row and will also run the offense as the setter.
“Hayley will be a force at the net this year,” said Taunton head coach Toby Chaperon. “And Anna can do it all too, she has the ability to hit and pass very well. We’re looking forward to having a good year.”
Senior Mia Fernandes will provide a boost of energy from the back row as the libero, flying all over the court to keep the play alive, and will be joined by classmate Megan Rose as a defensive specialist. Sayla DePina, another senior, will look to give Taunton some swings from the right side and set the block on opposing outside hitters. Rylie Roderick will add some depth at the net and at the service line for Taunton while head coach Toby Chaperon will look to incorporate transfers Morgan Fitzgerald (opposite/DS) and Julia Mitton (setter).
Juniors Jaden Sabina, Janelle Garcia, and Morgan Smith will all get some swings at the net while classmates Caroline Pietnik, Randi MacLeod, and Courtney Martin provide solid depth. Sophomore Adrianna Amaral has impressed early on this season and will get some swings at middle hitter while eighth grader Sadie Herry will be in the mix as a defensive specialist.
Franklin, 4 @ Needham, 3 – Final – Franklin had four different players light the lamp as the Panthers skated to a win on the road over Needham. Aidan Linehan opened the scoring for the Panthers, who were tied 1-1 after one period of action. Goals from Ryan Sicchio, Dylan Marchand, and Anthony Lampasona pushed Franklin’s advantage to 4-1 in the second period. Needham made it a two-goal game before the end of the second and added another in the third but the Panthers held on.
King Philip, 7 vs. Norwell, 3 – Final – King Philip exploded for four goals in the final period to earn its second straight win to start the season. Kelly Holmes scored a hat trick to pace the offense while Morgan Cunningham added a pair of goals. Sydney O’Shea and Catie Putt each scored once in the win.
Boys Indoor Track (@ Wheaton College)
Mansfield, 61 @ Taunton, 38 – Final – University of Michigan-commit Jake Wall picked up right where he left off, winning three events to help Mansfield take down Taunton in the season opener for both teams. Wall won the 55M hurdles (7.95), the high jump (5-04.00), and the long jump (22-03.00). Sophomore Chamberlain Guthrie Jr. and senior Isaiah Kinds followed at second and third in the long jump to give the Hornets the sweep. Chamberlain and Kinds also teamed with Nate Kablik and Nolan Clarke to win the 2×400 relay in 1:44.34 Other winners for Mansfield included Kablik in the 55M dash (6.99), Chris Leonard in the 1000M (2:51.40), Riley Tremblay in the 1 Mile (4:49.01), and Collin Stevens in the 2 Mile (10:41.11). Taunton’s Conal Scully won the 600M with a PR of 1:27.13 and was a member of the winning 4×400 relay team (3:41.46) along with Aidden Fitting, Andrew Cali, and Brayden Cali.
King Philip, 36 @ Attleboro, 64 – Final – Attleboro took first place in seven events and swept both the shot put and the 600M to take a win over King Philip in a meet held at Wheaton College. Chris Leonardo (43-11.00), Isaac Pereira, Isaiah Traore, and Ethan Gattoni took the top four spots in the shot put for the Bombardiers while sophomores Nicolas Graber (1:36.36), Jacob Blazek (1:37.10), and Sean Kaswale (1:37.13) swept the 600M. Senior Kaiden Murray was a big winner for Attleboro, taking first in the 55M dash (6.89), the 55M hurdles (8.98), and the long jump (18-02.00).
Foxboro, 58 @ Canton, 33 – Final – Junior Daniel O’Malley took first in a pair of events and the Warriors won eight events overall, including both relays, to get a win over Canton. O’Malley set a PR with his win in the 300M at 40.65 and then took first in the long jump at 17-09.50. Senior Jared Ciora won the 600M in 1:36.81, junior Brooks Stone took first in the 1000M in 2:57.76, senior Nicolas Olson won the 2 Mile in 10:48.45, and junior Joe Flanagan won the shot put with a toss of 37-11.00.
Stoughton @ Sharon, 7:00
Oliver Ames @ North Attleboro, 7:00
Franklin @ Milford, 7:00
King Philip, 56 @ Attleboro, 43 – Final – King Philip swept the 55M dash and took the top two spots in three over events to open the season with a win over KP. Grace Lawler (7.84), Ahunna James, and Ally Pochay took the top three spots in the 55M dash, Isabelle Watson (10.94) and Madeline Hill were first and second in the 55M hurdles, Kate O’Neil (30-04.75) and James took the top two spots in the shot put, and James (4-10.00) and Watson tied for first in the high jump. Watson also won the long jump for the Warriors with a leap of 14-09.50. Attleboro swept the 600M race with junior Rebecca Rainey winning in 1:52.96 followed by Madison Ellis and Emily Dunlea. Other winners for Attleboro included freshman Julia Leonardo in the 300M (48.33), freshman Emelia Smith in the 1000M (3:37.11), and junior Kacey Parker in the 1 Mile (6:25.41).
Foxboro, 36.5 @ Canton, 62.5 – Final – Canton got a big boost by sweeping a pair of field events and had five different individual winners to knock off Foxboro. Junior Emma Messih won the shot put at 26-01.50 with seniors Maeve Morrissey and Fiona Miller taking second and third. Sophomore Katherine Oliver (14-00.00) won the long jump with Gabby Herivaux and Kiley Hanlon rounding out the top three for the dogs. Hanlon won the 55M dash (7.99), junior Syriah McCruse took first in the 300M (48.64), and senior Ella Lewis earned key points at the high jump at 4-06.00.
Stoughton @ Sharon, 7:00
Oliver Ames @ North Attleboro, 7:00
Franklin @ Milford, 7:00
2020 (Fall II) Record: 1-11 Coach: Mary Katherine Runey
There is a lot of excitement surrounding the program as the Bombardiers are set to take the court for their second season, but first full season, under head coach Mary Katherine Runey.
The Bombardiers boast a large senior class featuring a lot of returning players along with a handful of juniors and even some freshmen ready to make an immediate impact on the court this Fall. It all starts with senior captains Lilly Boedeker, Marissa Conroy, and Summer Pereira, who will provide key leadership both on and off the court. Boedeker is the anchor of the defense as the libero while Pereira is making the switch to the right side to provide key blocking plus another offensive option.
Options will be vital for sophomore setter Natalie Brojek, who is back for her second season on the team as the setter. Seniors Delia Barthel, Holly Berg, Kate Petrosso, and Gabby Bolduc are all returning players and are joined in the roster by classmates Corina Lugo, Celina Lugo, Ellie Amaral, and juniors Brianna Frissora and Tigin Bombardier. Petrosso and Frissora will take care of business at the net as middle hitters while freshman Julia Leonardo could see time right away as an outside hitter.
“As a program, we are certainly looking to continue to build and grow,” Runey said. “Last year, we had to learn to play together and figure out which pieces of the puzzle work together. This year, we continue to work hard to minimize errors, control the pace of the game, and learn how to win. I believe that hard work will pay off this season.”
2020 (Fall II) Record: 10-2 Coach: Pat Cawley
Canton made it 13 league titles in the past 14 seasons when it edged Sharon to the Davenport title a year ago. This season, the Bulldogs will have a lot of new faces, as only five players return from 2020’s abbreviated campaign, but there still remains a lot of enthusiasm for a new season and the potential to rebuild for yet another title challenge.
Senior Sydney Gallery returns as the team’s middle hitter after a solid season contributing off the bench. Gallery has improved and seen her playing time increase each season and will now be one of Canton’s primary weapons. Seniors Anna Verille and Tayla DeGraw will add to the attack on the outside. Both saw significant minutes as juniors and can also provide points from the service line. Sophomore Jess Wright is a newcomer that could make an instant impact on the outside as well. Senior setter Taylor Reynolds is back to run the Bulldogs offense and put the hitters in the right spots. She is also a strong presence on the back row defensively. Seniors Amaiah Christian, Katie Dever, Ella Lewis, Kelly McDonald, and Jess Vo will all see the floor and add depth to the Canton roster.
“What we lack in experience, we make up in work ethic and desire,” said Canton coach Pat Cawley. “This year’s team is motivated and anxious to keep the strong Canton volleyball tradition going! Led by a great group of seniors, the entire team has the same goal – to play at the highest level possible and to be the best they can be!”
2020 (Fall II) Record: 3-9 Coach: Vicki Santana
This will be a season of transition for the Warriors, who return only five players from last year’s team. Despite graduating 10 seniors and only featuring two seniors on this year’s roster, Foxboro is excited about the potential of its younger players and looking to grow as a team over the course of the new season.
Juniors Sami Sloan and Mallorie Meyer will both step into bigger roles after gaining some varsity experience as sophomores last year. They are part of a big junior class (eight players) that will be counted on to carry the Warriors this fall. Both Sloan and Meyer have been working not only on their hitting but also the defensive part of the game to be able to help in the back as well as the front row. Junior Alyssa Cloherty will be the setter and classmate Shannon McElhinney will take over as the libero and both have shown capable of making smart decisions with the ball on the back row.
“I am seeing a lot of talent and can’t wait to see how the team performs,” said Foxboro coach Vicki Santana. “Our focus is to build team chemistry for the team to be successful. As long as the players are ready to put in the work this fall, I am anticipating a successful year.”
2020 (Fall II) Record: 12-1 Coach: Samantha Elliott
Franklin has won at least a share of the past three Kelley-Rex titles and last year also claimed the first-ever Hock Cup. Even while graduating important players, like leading hitter Ally Bonnet-Eymard, the Panthers continue to build squads that look ready to compete for the title every season.
The strength for the Panthers is at setter. Senior Cailyn Mackintosh is a three-year starter and one of the best passers in the league. Her ability to spread the ball around and hit spots opens up the floor for the offense and makes Franklin hard to match up against. Sophomore Taylor Lacerda will be one of Mackintosh’s top targets this year following a strong freshman season on the outside. Senior Lindsey Tarantola will be the main threat in the middle and senior Brigid Earley will be back at opposite. Defensively, the Panthers will count on senior Meghan Linkkila, who will be moving from defensive specialist to libero this season, to control the back row.
“I have high expectations for these players but more importantly they have high expectations for themselves,” said second-year Franklin coach Samantha Elliott. “This team is striving to continue proving themselves and working hard to be the best they can be, and hopefully, that is another Hockomock title.
2020 (Fall II) Record: 11-2 Coach: Kristen Geuss
When you look at the class that graduated from last season, the Warriors certainly lost a lot of talent from a team that won a share of the Kelley-Rex division title. But this is a program that doesn’t have many rebuilding seasons, they simply reload.
The Warriors have several returning players that will play a significant role this season. Senior captain Stella Bailey will take over as the primary setter, and she’s a confident player that can run the offense very well (136 assists last season). Bailey will have two very good options to work with in senior captain Liv Carey and junior captain Ahunna James. Not only is James one of the most lethal hitters in the league (124 kills last season), she’s a very good defender (104 digs) and server (94.6 serve percentage) as well.
King Philip will lean heavily on a pair of seniors to lead the way defensively in the back row with Samantha Asprelli taking over as libero and classmates Sofia Reidel and Gianna DeLorenzo as defensive specialist options. The graduation of the team’s top hitter and blocker Nicole Coughlan leaves a big void at the net but junior Sami Shore gained some key experience last year as she prepares to give the Warriors a boost at the net. Junior Emily Sawyer is a new addition that has been promising in the preseason as a middle while senior Molly O’Brien has played well on the right side. Juniors Kiera Hagen, Missy Canning, and Olivia O’Neil as well as sophomores Kate O’Neil and Shea Mellman are all battling for time on the court.
“I am very pleased with how prepared the players have come back from last season, they have been working very hard at practice,” Geuss said. “I think we will be strong on both offense and defense. The players are ready to go and are looking forward to a more normal season!”
2020 (Fall II) Record: 6-6 Coach: Tara DeGirolamo
For the second season in a row, Mansfield will have a new coach. The Hornets are turning to JV coach Tara DeGirolamo this fall and hoping that a mix of experienced returning players and some new faces can help them pose a challenge to defending league champs Franklin and King Philip.
Mansfield will run its offense through senior hitter Julia Kelly. A three-year-starter, Kelly is a versatile layer who rarely takes a rotation off and gives the Hornets a lift on both attack and defense. The middle should be a big threat as well with senior Nicole Santos and junior Alexandra Scibilia giving the Hornets good net presence. Senior Christina Lydon and junior Isabella Flint will be back at the setter position and senior Nora Buckley adds to the attack on the right side. Sophomores Elyssa Buchanan and Anna Goulet and junior Lily Verheggen will be new hitters to add depth for the Hornets. Defensively, senior Lauren Knight will lead the back row with senior Calysta Robyn and junior Jackie Zelic able to step in and provide defensive cover as well.
“The Hornet volleyball team has a great group of veteran and new players rounding out the roster this season,” said DeGirolamo.
2020 (Fall II) Record: 4-8 Coach: Tammy Webber
Volleyball is back in the fall and the Scarlet Hawks are hoping to make it back to the postseason with a strong core of players on the roster.
Despite only four seniors on the roster, head coach Tammy Webber has a lot of experience on the squad after a lot of the players experienced the varsity level for the first time during the Spring. One player who has been around for a long time is senior outside hitter Sarah Brogioli, an All-Hockomock selection from last season. Not only is she one of the top hitters in the league, but she is also a top defensive option for the Hawks. A big advantage for Brogioli and the rest of the Hawk hitters is having junior Emily Croteau back at setter. Croteau emerged as the team’s top setter during the Fall 2 season so she knows the pace of the varsity level and has some options to distribute too.
Beyond Brogioli, Croteau will have two experience middles to work with. Senior Lexi Starks is a good two-way player, providing the Hawks with some good swings on offense and key blocks defensively. She can also rotate all the way through the lineup, playing defensively in the back row. Junior middle Aliza Syed had a really strong sophomore season and can be really hard to stop when she gets into a groove; she’s also a strong server for the Hawks. Carley Haley, Jess Douglas, and Molly Hartman will anchor the back row for Milford.
“With the players we have returning, we are hoping to challenge the top teams in the league,” Webber said.
2020 (Fall II) Record: 2-9-1 Coach: Courtney Lambrese
It has been four seasons since North Attleboro ended Canton’s reign atop the Davenport division. Last year, the Rocketeers were rebuilding after graduating a big senior class and there were some growing pains but first-year coach Courtney Lambrese has eight seniors returning and will hope that experience can carry North to a much better 2021.
North will look to be aggressive on offense, utilizing the strength of senior outside hitters Amira Boory and Sara Carter. Senior Madelyn Corsetti will give the Rocketeers another look in the middle, adding some balance to the attack. All three move well at the net and should also be effective in the block. Senior Katherine McHoul will be the setter and is joined in the back row by senior defensive specialists Ava Dunlevy and Julianne Chen. It is a defensive unit that Lambrese praised for its ability to read the hitter and be aggressive getting to the ball.
“This will be my fourth season with the program, I am looking forward to taking on a new role as the varsity coach with the group of athletes we have,” said Lambrese. “Overall, I’m excited for the talent and drive this team expresses and to see their successes this season.”
2020 (Fall II) Record: 8-4 Coach: Chelsea Cunningham
Head coach Chelsea Cunningham always has high expectations for her Tigers, and this year is no different. OA boasts some key returners on the court while Cunningham is excited to integrate some new faces into the lineup after the void left by graduation.
Anytime you can bring back your starting setter, you’re already at an advantage and the Tigers have one of the better ones in the Hock in senior captain Hadley Rhodes. She learned a lot last year and can spread the ball out to the weapons the Tigers have. Rhodes can also get involved in the attack as a solid option at opposite hitter. Another key piece to the puzzle will be junior Maddie Homer, who is a three-year starter and the team’s libero. Homer’s veteran presence will help solidify the back row for OA.
Senior captain Shannon Willard will be in the mix as a setter as well while junior Courtney Raymond is poised for a breakout season as a middle hitter after gaining valuable experience during the Fall 2 season. Sophomore Sarah Hilliard learned what the varsity level is all about and is back as one of the main hitting options for OA.
“Returning to more ‘normal’ practice in athletics is exciting enough as it is and being able to continue working with such wonderful student-athletes makes it even better,” Cunningham said. “This group is full of new faces and they all bring something unique to the team. This season, some of our main goals include playing “our” game, always being ready to compete, and making every moment count. I am privileged to coach another season for such an amazing, supportive, and competitive program and cannot wait to see what’s in store for us!”
2020 (Fall II) Record: 9-3 Coach: Bill Schustek
Sharon is coming off one of the best seasons in program history. The Eagles won nine times last season, picked up a very rare win against perennial power Canton, and finished just a game behind the Bulldogs, narrowly missing out on the program’s first league title. Graduation will have taken its toll, with Sharon losing its top hitters from last year, but first-year coach Bill Schustek will be hoping the momentum can carry over into 2021.
Although the Eagles lost the top four players from last season, they do return eight players with varsity experience. On the front row, seniors Simone Dunbar and Erin Schustek will be the primary weapons. Dunbar will be a threat in the middle, along with classmate Savannah Gray, and Schustek will be on the outside with help from junior Tess Letendre. Senior Trinity Payne is another strong player at the net, either in the middle or on the right side. Emily Rubenstein is in her third year as the starting libero and is the leader of the back row.
“Without a dominant hitter, we will need to be a defensive and ball control focused team to have success this year,” said Schustek. “Our goal for the season is to qualify for the state tournament.”
2020 (Fall II) Record: 3-8-1 Coach: Felicia Baptista
With key players back in key positions, Stoughton is looking to bounce back after a down year during the abbreviated Fall II season. Kiara Scardina, Patrik Oliveira, and Vanessa Philemond give the Black Knights a solid core of veterans to build around for the 2021 season.
The Davenport is wide open this season with most teams graduating the majority of their lineup from a season ago. That means every team is in the mix and whoever is playing best down the stretch might be the one to take it. Scardina, a junior captain, got a lot of experience as a sophomore last year and will anchor the back row. Oliveira took over as setter last year and now has a good amount of playing time under his belt and will be ready to set the Stoughton offense in motion. Philemond will be one of the go-to options for Oliveira from her middle hitter spot, and she will also help set the tone defensively with her blocking.
Head coach Felicia Baptista, in her second overall season but first full Fall season, will be looking for some of the younger players to step up this year, including sophomore outside hitter Annalia Eschleman, sophomore outside hitter Maya Ashu, and freshman Angelina Barry, who will see some time as a defensive specialist.
“The fall 2021 season is one we are ready for,” Baptista said. “We are so happy that this season could go back to normal and start the fall season on time. Our program has worked hard all summer to make sure they were ready for August preseason this year. We have a large team this year and each one of them brings something different to the team which makes us that much stronger.”
2020 (Fall II) Record: 3-9 Coach: Toby Chaperon
Taunton won two of its first three matches in Fall II but only won once for the remainder of the season, as the Tigers went through the teeth of a loaded Kelley-Rex division. Taunton will have nine seniors on this year’s roster, many of which saw significant playing time last year, so there is hope that the Tigers can build on the experience of 2020 and be more consistent this fall.
The middle should be a strength for Taunton this season. Senior Mikayla Cleary and junior Hayley Krockta give the Tigers good size and athleticism both while attacking and defending. Senior Angie Lynch is a supreme athlete and has shown flashes of being a major weapon on the outside as she learns the nuances of the game and that position. Senior Dani Lofgren will be the libero. A good passer, Lofgren is another player that is growing into her role. Senior Jess Foley will help out defensively on the back row. Junior Anna Abouzeid is the new setter for the Tigers. Taunton coach Toby Chaperon said Abouzeid is athletic and has a good volleyball IQ and they are working on refining her play in the setter position.