Teams of the Decade #13: 2018 Franklin Volleyball

Franklin volleyball

Team: Franklin Volleyball
Year: 2018
Record: 20-1
2018 Kelley-Rex Division Champions
2018 Division 1 Central-West Champions
2018 Division 1 State Semifinalists


With a strong group of returning players, the Franklin volleyball team entered the season as the top-ranked team in our Hock 5 rankings. But there were few, at least outside of the program, that expected the Panthers to be as good as they were.

While the Panthers graduated a couple of key pieces from the lineup a year before, first-year head coach Kelsey Weymouth inherited a talented, experienced group that looked primed to get back atop the Kelley-Rex division. There were signs very early of just how talented Franklin was, including a 3-0 sweep over non-league foe Bishop Feehan, a 3-0 sweep over defending division champ King Philip, and a 3-1 win on the road over Hockomock power Canton — all in a five-day span.

Senior Lauren McGrath returned for her third year as the team’s starting setter was a key piece in orchestrating the offense as well as an important part of the Panther defense. After dishing out 545 assists her junior year, McGrath crossed the 1,000-assist mark as a senior with 547 assists. McGrath had plenty of choices to work with offensively with four players reaching the 100-kill mark: Ellie Wisniewski (151), Maggie Doyle (135), Allyson Bonnet-Eymard (102), and Hailey Sanders (100).

“I knew from our first practice that we had the skillset and drive to go all the way,” Weymouth said. Weymouth was a former standout at Hock rival North Attleboro before a successful career at Stonehill. “I was coached hard while playing at Stonehill College and in doing so, we were successful. I wanted to bring the same drive to my girls at Franklin High School … I was not easy on this group because I knew they had what it took but they needed that push and confident booster! They worked so hard day in and day out and I could not be more proud of them and all of their hard work during our 2018 season! These ladies had natural-born talent and when they came together as a team they were unstoppable.”

What made Franklin’s offense so dangerous was their ability to hit successfully from all three spots at the net. It wasn’t just a rotation between two outside hitters or forcing to just one player. Not only did the Panthers have one of the best outside hitters in Wisniewski, but they also had two very good options in Doyle (middle) and Sanders (opposite). Bonnet-Eymard and Emma Chase, both sophomores that season, provided strong attacking depth for Franklin.

On the flip side, the Panthers were strong defensively at the net as well. Doyle led the charge with 65 total blocks while Sanders added 35 and McGrath stepped up defensively while in the front row with 16 blocks. Riley Marino was the team’s defensive specialist, recording 218 digs. Wisniewski, Bonnet-Eymard, McGrath, and Shannon Gray were all reliable in the back row as well.

“Our 2018 season was amazing,” McGrath said. “Undefeated in the Hock, a league championship, first Sectional Championship for Franklin High School Volleyball, and a team and coach that was hardworking, resilient, and a lot of fun to be around. It will be a season I remember forever.”

Only three teams avoided being swept by the Panthers during the regular season with Oliver Ames (3-1) and Mansfield (3-1) being able to take a set along with Canton. But the playoffs were a different story and the Panthers really showed their mettle during the postseason run.

Entering the D1 Central West bracket as the #2-seed at 17-0, the Panthers were tested right away by #7 Concord-Carlisle. In their first five-set match of the season, the Panthers pulled out a victory to advance to the sectional semifinals. Franklin fell behind 0-2 to #3 Hopkinton, who was the home team because of a predetermined site, but the Panthers rallied to force a fifth game. Once again Franklin prevailed to move on to the sectional final. Despite going up 2-0 on #4 Shrewsbury, Franklin was forced to a fifth set for the third straight playoff game. The pattern continued as Franklin won the fifth set and the match, this time to clinch its first ever sectional championship.

“The girls were out with vengeance [against Hopkinton], you could cut the tension with a knife and I wanted nothing more than a hard-fought win for them that night,” Weymouth said. “After being down 2-0, they had no choice but to fight. I made some drastic but necessary changes that match and they adapted the best that I’ve ever seen. Ending in yet, another deserving five-set victory!

“Ending up top four in the state is something every young athlete hopes of doing. I did not accomplish that during my high school career and I wanted nothing more than for this group to accomplish that. Words honestly cannot describe how proud I am of that group of young ladies. They deserved everything they accomplished and then some.”

In the state semifinals, the Franklin volleyball team faced off against the standard-bearer of volleyball in the state of Massachusetts in Barnstable. The Raiders won the match 3-0 but not without an incredible effort from Franklin, who fell 25-17, 25-22, 25-23.






Franklin volleyball
Franklin volleyball

2018 Franklin Volleyball Schedule

Opponent
Result
MilfordW, 3-0
Bishop FeehanW, 3-0
King PhilipW, 3-0
CantonW, 3-1
MansfieldW, 3-0
StoughtonW, 3-0
TauntonW, 3-0
North AttleboroW, 3-0
Oliver AmesW, 3-1
FoxboroW, 3-0
AttleboroW, 3-0
SharonW, 3-0
King PhilipW, 3-0
MansfieldW, 3-1
TauntonW, 3-0
Oliver AmesW, 3-0
AttleboroW, 3-0
#7 Concord-CarlisleW, 3-2
#3 HopkintonW, 3-2
#4 ShrewsburyW, 3-2
Barnstable (State Semifinal)L, 3-0






Franklin volleyball

Franklin volleyball

Franklin volleyball

Franklin volleyball

Franklin volleyball

Franklin volleyball

Franklin volleyball

Franklin volleyball


Franklin Makes Easy Work of Doherty in Playoff Opener

Franklin volleyball
Frankin libero Jill Benoit digs out a shot in the playoff opening win against Doherty. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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FRANKLIN, Mass. – Franklin opened the defense of its Div. 1 Central/West title against an unfamiliar foe on Saturday afternoon, but it turned out to be a perfect way to ease into another postseason run.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

The Panthers needed only about an hour to dispatch Doherty in the first round, winning 25-12. 25-12, 25-11 to advance to the quarterfinal. While it wasn’t a perfect performance, Franklin coach Kelsey Weymouth was pleased with the team’s ability to focus on the task at hand and not allow the visitors to get any momentum.

“I wanted them to just focus on what was happening on their side of the net and playing Franklin volleyball at the pace that Franklin volleyball is played at,” she said. “I wanted them to be aggressive and to stay aggressive. Now was kind of the time to run some plays and try some things but mentally stay focused.”

It was a quick start for the hosts. Franklin won the opening 10 points of the match with sophomore setter Cailyn Mackintosh recording three aces in the stretch, senior Makayla Raffin adding a pair of kills, and senior Sophie Lyons adding one strike.

Doherty came back with seven straight points, but the Panthers regained their focus at that point and went back on the attack. Junior Allyson Bonnet-Eymard, the lone player with experience from last year’s sectional title run, had a pair of aces in the first and junior Emma Chase had a kill, as the Panthers cruised to a lead in the match.

The second set didn’t go much better for the team from Worcester. Franklin won 12 of the first 13 points to take control. Mackintosh continued to be a force at the service line, winning three straight points, Bonnet-Eymard had a couple of kills and an ace, and Raffin had a block.

Franklin’s defensive shape wasn’t significantly challenged by the Doherty hitters, but they still had to be awake and the match offered the opportunity to try a few rotations and plays that may prove useful in the coming rounds.

“I wanted our offense to be a little faster,” Weymouth explained. “On free balls that we were getting on our side, I wanted our offense to be faster because we’re going to see a faster team on Monday. I understand the level that this game was at but I need them to still realize what’s coming and be ready.”

Bonnet-Eymard had a hat trick of kills during the closing stretch of the set, libero Jill Benoit and middle hitter Sarah Jackson each had aces, and Raffin rose up to blast a cross-court kill to seal a 2-0 lead.

There was no let up for the Panthers in the third set, as they jumped out to another solid lead. Chase, Mackintosh, Raffin, and Jackson all won points to put Franklin on the precipice of the quarterfinal. Senior Bridget Jackson added an ace in the set and Benoit closed out the match with back-to-back aces.

“A match like this was great for them,” Weymouth said. “I plan on having a different starting lineup for the playoffs, but I think this was a good time for them to get a win like this under their belt and be like, okay we’re going to keep going. I know this team can go far, but it’s up to them if they decide to do so.”

Franklin (15-3) will travel to face No. 3 seed Algonquin on Monday night.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Panthers Pick Up Key Win Over King Philip

Franklin volleyball Allyson Bonnet-Eymard
Franklin junior Allyson Bonnet-Eymard swings at a ball against King Philip. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
FRANKLIN, Mass. – Franklin looked like it was on its way to a three-set sweep of visiting King Philip in a battle of the top two teams in the Kelley-Rex division.

The Warriors wouldn’t go quietly though, putting their best performance forth and winning the third set to grab momentum and put the pressure on the hosts.

But the Panthers responded well, pulling away after a tight start to the fourth set to earn a 3-1 (25-17, 25-12, 22-25, 25-16) win and a regular season sweep over King Philip.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

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.

Junior Allyson Bonnet-Eymard had a team-high 10 kills, senior Sophie Lyons (seven digs) chipped in with five kills, junior Emma Chase recorded four kills on .400 hitting along with three blocks, and senior Bridget Jackson finished with five blocks and four kills.

“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.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

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.

Canton Prevails In Tight Contest With Franklin

Canton’s Taylor Harris (right) hits an attack against Franklin in the first set. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
FRANKLIN, Mass. – The battle between defending division champions Franklin and Canton lived up to the billing on Wednesday afternoon.

The Panthers, reigning champions of the Kelley-Rex division, and the Bulldogs, who won their eighth Davenport crown last season, went back-and-forth, trading wins in the first two sets before Canton pulled away for a 3-1 (25-20, 23-25, 25-22, 25-18) win.

Over the course of the first three sets, the teams were never separated by more than six points, and only once in each set did the lead reach that high. And the leads all came early as the teams were within a point (19-18) in all three of those sets.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

After the Bulldogs finished the third set with a 7-4 run to get a 2-1 lead in the match, they came out and played their best set in the fourth game to clinch the win.

“I think we played the best [in the fourth game] because we had confidence because we were up 2-1, and we were in the driver’s seat,” said Canton head coach Pat Cawley. “We played better because we had that confidence. It was a great match, it could have gone either way easily. I felt like both teams were pretty evenly matched.”

After an even start to the fourth set, the Bulldogs pulled ahead after putting pressure on the Panthers’ defense, forcing a couple of errors. Claire Quinn (nine kills, five aces) came up with a big dig on a Franklin hit that helped Canton keep the play alive and eventually win the point to go up 12-5.

After Franklin closed the gap some, Franklin rattled off a quick 6-3 burst that featured a kill from Liz Bickett (10 kills, three blocks) and an ace from Olivia Chinsen to take a commanding 20-10 lead, the largest of the entire match.

The Panthers battled back to make it a six-point game at 22-16 but Bickett dropped in another kill and Taylor Harris (23 kills) slammed down the final point with a kill.

“I think at too many times we let an error turn into two, and then two errors turn into another one,” said Franklin head coach Kelsey Weymouth. “And that seemed to take a hit on our confidence. We’re inconsistent right now, and we have a young team with some inexperience at some spots.”

Canton built a slight lead in the opening set as Harris slammed a shot down the line to go up 8-4, and Bickett tipped a ball over for a kill for a 10-5 lead. Another Harris kill gave the Bulldogs a 15-6 lead but Franklin rallied to make it a one-point game on an ace from Allyson Bonnet-Eymard (nine kills, 11 digs) at 18-17.

The Bulldogs finished strong with Bickett and Harris getting kills, sandwiched around an ace from Quinn for a 25-20 win.

“Taylor is a reliable option,” Cawley said. “She’s coming into her own, feeling the pressure a little bit of being the senior leader on the team. But we’re trying to take that pressure off of her because we have some good options. She’s doing a nice job, you know, if she makes an error she comes back strong.”

Franklin evened the match with a win in the second set. The Panthers jumped ahead 20-18 on back-to-back Canton errors but the Bulldogs rallied by winnings five of the next six points to take a 23-21 lead. A pair of errors helped Franklin pull level, sophomore Cailyn Mackintosh (30 assists) landed an ace to put the Panthers ahead, and Bridget Jackson (11 kills, three aces, two blocks) slammed down a hard kill to even the match at 1-1.

Bonnet-Eymard and Harris traded back-to-back kills early in the third set, the latter from Harris putting the Bulldogs up 12-7. After a Franklin timeout, the Panthers rallied to tie the set (15-15) on a kill from Brigid Early and their first lead on an ace from Mackintosh. Harris landed two kills to give Canton a 21-18 lead but back-to-back Canton errors helped Franklin get within one at 22-21.

A service error, a kill from Quinn, another Franklin error, and another kill from Quinn secured a 25-22 win in the third set.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

“Today was Claire’s first start of the year playing outside and she did a super job,” Cawley said. “Angie [Elias] usually plays outside but we put her at the weak side and I think that helped us a lot because she had a lot of touches on the block.

“We switched to a 5-1 [rotation] in the second set and I think it just took a little time getting used to having the one setter. All of the setters are new to varsity, but I think that changed worked for us because the kids seemed to know what to expect, and they didn’t have to figure out who was setting.”

Canton volleyball (3-0 Hockomock, 3-0 overall) is back in action on Monday with a trip to the brand new Stoughton High School. Franklin (1-2, 1-2) will host Mansfield on the same day.

Volleyball: 2019 Hockomock League Preview

2019 Hockomock Volleyball Preview

By HockomockSports.com Staff

2019 Hockomock Volleyball Preview

Attleboro

2018 Record: 2-17
2018 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Courtney Durocher

The Attleboro Bombardiers are determined to improve on last year’s season and are planning to use a lot of effort and hard work to do so.

Attleboro has key pieces back in key spots for head coach Courtney Durocher to use. It all starts with junior setter Ana Leonardo, who enters her third year playing at the varsity level. After splitting time as a freshman, Leonardo shined as the lone setter for the Bombardiers last year. Having that experience in such an important position will help the Bombardiers offensively. Durocher is looking for Emily McGovern to get a lot of swings at the outside hitter position while Hailey Thake should get opportunities on the right side. The defense will be anchored by libero Jessica Matheson.

“I feel we could have a breakout season this year with the group of girls we have,” Durocher said. “It will take effort and time, but know we can do it.”

Canton

2018 Record: 19-3 (Davenport Division Champions)
2018 Finish: Reached D2 Central Final
Coach: Pat Cawley

After missing out on the playoffs in 2017, the Bulldogs were back with a vengeance last year with a terrific season that resulted in a division title and a trip to the sectional final.

The Bulldogs were back atop the Davenport after a one-year hiatus, picking up 19 wins overall. Canton graduated a lot of key pieces from last year’s successful squad, but expectations are still high for 2019 as the Bulldogs look to defend their Davenport title. Senior Taylor Harris will give the Bulldogs a lot of power at the net as one the league’s best hitters, and she will also be a key piece of the defense. Junior Liz Bickett is back as one of the middle blockers, and junior Olivia Chinsen will be tasked with some of the setting duties as well as an attacking option on the right side. Junior Angie Elias will be another option on the outside while junior Shannon Malloy has stepped up to take on the other middle spot for the Bulldogs. Head coach Pat Cawley is looking for seniors Emily Morrison and Rosana Cho to anchor a relatively inexperienced group of defensive players to try and fill the void left by last year’s libero Meghan McDonough. Junior Jackie Morrissey and sophomore Taylor Reynolds are also in the mix for the setter spot.

“While we have a totally new look this year, the preseason has shown there is great potential,” Cawley said. “We have several good defensive candidates and I am excited to see who steps up and wins the starting roles. Our setting is inexperienced but hardworking and improving every day. I am fortunate to work with a great group of fun, determined and dedicated athletes looking to elevate their game!”

Foxboro

2018 Record: 1-19
2018 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Vicki Santana

Former Canton standout Vicki Santana takes over as head coach of the Foxboro Warriors and is aiming to help her team improve over the course of the season.

The Warriors are hoping 2019 will be a turnaround year after just one win last season. O’Brien brings a wealth of playing experience, winning multiple Hockomock League championships with the Bulldogs and setting multiple records while at Worcester State. She holds two single-season records for digs and is second in program history in total digs (1,271). Santana has a strong core of players back to work within her first year including senior captains Grace Boudreau, Sara Addeche, and Maddie O’Brien. Boudreau gives the Warriors experience at the net as an attacking option while Addeche and O’Brien both provide strong leadership on and off the court. Junior Kelsey Treweek will anchor the defense as the libero while newcomer Shakirah Ketant should factor in defensively at the net.

“We are focused on developing the team as a whole and strengthening the camaraderie on and off the court,” Santana said. “Volleyball is a mental game and building our team culture around trust, positivity, and motivation is a priority for the year.”

Franklin

2018 Record: 20-1 (Kelley-Rex Division Champions)
2018 Finish: Reached D1 State Semifinals
Coach: Kelsey Weymouth

It’s going to be a completely new look Franklin squad this fall, but second-year head coach Kelsey Weymouth is still expecting a strong season from the Panthers.

Coming off the best season in program history which featured an undefeated regular season, a D1 Central West sectional title, and a trip to the D1 State Semifinals, the Panthers will look to new faces to try and orchestrate another successful season. Allyson Bonnett-Eymard picked up valuable experience last season, registering 102 kills, and will be one of the go-to options on offense for Franklin this year. Weymouth also expects Bonnett-Eymard to be involved in the setting game as well. Other returners include Bridget Jackson and Emma Chase, both of which will play in the middle. Weymouth expects Chase to hit from various spots at the net this year. Sophomore Cailyn Macintosh had a strong offseason and will be in the mix for setting duties, junior Jill Benoit will be a key piece of the back row defense as the libero, and senior Sarah Jackson will see an expanded role at the net this season. The Panthers will be relying on their height to lead the defense at the net.

“We are more of a younger team this season but each player has made huge improvements,” Weymouth said. “Most of the team has not played together before, so our chemistry will be key. I love having a lot of variety on my team because that means I can move a lot of people around playing different positions.”

King Philip

2018 Record: 11-11
2018 Finish: Reached D1 Central/East Quarterfinals
Coach: Kristen Geuss

After an up and down season in 2018, King Philip is looking to compete for the Kelley-Rex title again this year.

The Warriors have a strong mix of starters and experienced players due back this season so there is a lot of potential for this season. The heart of the offense returns with both senior Catherine Waldeck and junior Nicole Coughlan (the 2018 HockomockSports Underclassman of the Year) back as the team’s middle blockers. Both had over 130 kills last season and combined for 77 blocks so the Warriors will certainly be strong up the middle again this year. Senior Kristen Masse will complement them as one of the outside hitters, the Warriors having their top three attack options back this season. Senior Kiley Sullivan and junior Lauren Peterson (both over 100 assists last year) are back to run the offense from the setter position. Juniors Lily Carlow and Emma Brooks bring experience to the back row defensive unit. Head coach Kristen Geuss expects juniors Ali McNamara, Paige Kannally, and Tori Claypoole to all factor in as well.

“There is a great deal of potential on the team,” Geuss said. “Many have put in the time in the offseason to improving their game. They are working hard in practice and are improving each day.”

Mansfield

2018 Record: 7-13
2018 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Melissa Heeden & Cindy Conquest

There is a lot of excitement surrounding the 2019 version of the Mansfield Hornets, and for good reason with a lot of returning players back this season.

While the Hornets missed out on the playoffs a year ago, there is a lot of talent back that gained valuable experience and will be looking to compete for a division title this season. Last year’s inexperienced group is now ready to show off what they learned last season. There are five seniors that will lead the charge for Mansfield: outside hitter/defensive specialist Julia Buiser, outside hitter Emily Dardinski, setter Olivia Fernando, libero Sam Sternburg, and setter Stephanie Walker. Having a senior at almost every position gives Mansfield an edge in both leadership and experience. Junior Olivia McGrath, sophomore Julia Kelly, junior Alina Nowakowski, and junior Ashley Santos all saw valuable match time last year and will be looking to take the next step this season. With such a well-rounded team, head coach Melissa Heeden has been moving the pieces around looking for the right combination heading into the season. Heeden is hoping that the combination of more experience and a balanced team will translate into success on the court.

“I am really excited about our team this year,” Heeden said. “The girls have worked really hard and we have a lot more experience this year than we did last year. We have a great team with a lot of energy and enthusiasm. We are well balanced and I am really looking forward to seeing what they can do!”




Milford

2018 Record: 9-10
2018 Finish: Reached D2 Central First Round
Coach: Tammy Webber

After just making it into the state tournament a year ago, the Scarlet Hawks return an experienced group that is aiming to compete for the Davenport division title.

Milford has been in the mix before, their best chance at the division coming in 2016, but should be a serious contender in 2019. The Hawks bring back two talented middles in Allison and Lauren Corsini, Julia Riordan returns as the starting setter, Alyssa Williamson is back at the outside hitter spot, and right side hitter Elise Faurerbach has solid varsity experience. Sophomore Sarah Brogioli should see an expanded role as an outside hitter after getting some swings last year as a freshman. The Corsini sisters combined for over 200 kills and over 100 blocks and should give Milford an edge both offensively and defensively. Riordan dished out 420 assists a year ago and has plenty of weapons at her disposal, including Williamson (108 kills in 2018). The challenge early on will be replacing defensive specialists Sydney Sutton and Nina Pinto, who combined for the majority of the team’s digs and serve receives last year.

“We have the offensive pieces, but are working on the consistency we will need, especially in our passing, to be in the running for a Hockomock championship,” said head coach Tammy Webber.

North Attleboro

2018 Record: 10-9
2018 Finish: Reached D1 South First Round
Coach: Kim Hallahan

With 10 seniors on the roster, North Attleboro coach Kim Hallahan is excited for upcoming season.

It all starts with the two senior captains for the Rocketeers, with seniors Hayley Gaskin and Brook Street leading the way for North Attleboro. Gaskin returns as the starting setter after a very strong junior campaign in which North Attleboro qualified for the state tournament. Street will step in to anchor the defensive line in the back row as the libero while Gaskin, who had 416 assists last year with just 10 ball handling errors, will have a lot of the same options back again this year. One of those options will be senior Kylie Melanson, who was second on the team last year with 124 kills, and junior Joanna Collins-Bilyeu, who is set to see an expanded role at the net this year. With a strong group of well-rounded players, the challenge now for Hallahan is finding the right combination of players and the right rotations heading into the season.

“I have a really good feeling about this year,” Hallahan said. “The girls all have good spirits and work really, really hard, but most importantly work really well together. I’m really excited for this season.”

Oliver Ames

2018 Record: 14-8
2018 Finish: Reached D1 South Quarterfinals
Coach: Chelsea Cunningham

Oliver Ames is riding a three-year streak of qualifying for the state tournament and is looking to make it four this season.

Head coach Chelsea Cunningham has two of her top players back from last year’s 14-win squad in senior outside hitter Jordan Bosse and setter Allie Kemp. Bosse was one of the top hitters in the league and led the Tigers with 240 kills, so having a strong, experienced player back at the outside hitter position will be a big boost early on. And on top of that, Kemp (the 2017 HockomockSports Underclassman of the Year) is back to distribute the ball so there should be an early connection between the two. Cunningham is also looking for senior Alison Barth to step into the libero role, Ryley McNeeley to get some swings both in the middle and right side, junior Caroline Flynn to play the other outside hitter role, and sophomore Hadley Rhodes (setter/opposite) to play a variety of roles.

“We are hoping to learn from every practice, game, and everything in between,” Cunningham said. “The girls are flexible in their roles and all have something to offer on and off the court. Offensively, we have many options this year and hope to utilize everyone on the roster. Defensively, we have some holes to fill but continue to adjust to each team we face. With this particular group, expectations have been set, and they have to work for everything. With all the different factors that play a role, I could not have asked for a better group of student-athletes to work with.”

Sharon

2018 Record: 7-12
2018 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Andrea Lovett

Sharon has a lot of returning players with experience at the varsity level which has head coach Andrea Lovett excited for the upcoming season.

The Eagles will look to use their strength and experience at the front row to pace the offense. Juniors Sara Fandel and Leah Fandel are back after picking up good experience a year ago, and senior Jada Johnson returns after one year off. Johnson had a terrific sophomore campaign and could be a big difference-maker for the Eagles. Senior captain Maya Aidlin-Perlman and junior Brynne Aidlin-Perlman will provide the power from the outside hitter spots. Senior captain Ally Brown brings quickness and intelligence to the setter spot and will be a leader for the Eagles both on and off the court.

“Over the last several years, Sharon has been gaining skills, experience, and a renewed drive to win,” Lovett said. “We are looking forward to carrying that trend into the season.”

Stoughton

2018 Record: 16-5
2018 Finish: Reached D2 South Semifinals
Coach: Erica Batchelder

The Black Knights have put together back-to-back 16 win seasons and have graduated two straight strong classes, so expectations are high for the upcoming season.

With some key losses to graduation, the Black Knights will be changing up some tactics and strategies this year to best take advantage of the players they do have returning. There will be a lot of focus on the defensive side of the ball, with a strong emphasis on hustle and eliminating unforced errors. Senior Alexa Quinones will be changing positions to take over as the setter. Her experience as an attacking option makes her a dual-threat alongside middle blocker Amaya Morris. Morris had a strong season a year ago and will be a key piece of the net defense this season. Senior Sasha Hyacinthe will be one of the main offensive options after a breakout junior campaign. Stoughton will be turning to senior Veronica Noe to anchor the defense in the back row, junior Shanice Landrum will be stepping into one of the middle roles, and junior Camille Firmin will give the Black Knights an attacking option as both an outside hitter and on the right side.

“We have strong players filling gaps from last year,” said head coach Erica Batchelder. “I am excited for this season for Stoughton to show other teams not to ever count us out. We have a lot of heart, hustle, communication, and talent to back it up.”

Taunton

2018 Record: 5-15
2018 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Toby Chaperon

There will be a learning curve this season for Taunton, which features an overall young team with limited varsity experience.

Head coach Toby Chaperon had a busy preseason with over 100 girls trying out for the program. Senior Alyssa Turcotte, an outside hitter and a middle hitter, will see a lot of time at the net for the Tigers this year as well as senior outside hitter Hailey Sullivan, who has “a tremendous feel for the game” according to Chaperon. Junior Ella Dunderdale brings a strong skill set so she can play in a variety of roles during the season while classmates Sonya Fernandez (middle) and Jaelyn Fernandez (setter) could emerge as top players this season. Fabian Pereira will be in the mix in the back row while sophomore Mikayla Clearly is likely to factor in in some capacity for the Tigers.

Franklin Falls To Barnstable In D1 State Semifinal

Franklin volleyball
Franklin’s Lily Galluccio (7) and Maggie Doyle go up for a block against Barnstable’s Riley James. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
FRANKLIN, Mass. – In a battle of two of the top teams in the state of Massachusetts, the Franklin volleyball team gave everything the Barnstable Raiders could handle.

The Panthers, who secured the Central-West sectional title in a dramatic five-set win, push the Raiders, champions of the South sectional, to the limit. But ultimately, Barnstable made one final run to come away with a 3-0 (25-17, 25-22, 25-23) win and a return trip to the D1 State Final.

“I couldn’t really ask for more,” said first-year Franklin head coach Kelsey Weymouth. “They knew they’d have to be matched up with [Barnstable] eventually so why not the state semifinals? We prepared them the best we could for them, and for [Barnstable outside hitter] Riley James. We knew blocking was going to be key today, and we had some really good moments for our blocks, we just needed a little bit more. But honestly, what the girls did, how hard they worked, I couldn’t ask for anything more.”

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

The Raiders are a perennial power in the state, having won the D1 State title 13 times since 2000 and entered Tuesday night’s match without having lost a single set this year. While that didn’t change, Franklin gave Barnstable its toughest test of the season and scored more points (62) against the Raiders than any other team has in 2018.

“They are a good team,” said Barnstable head coach Tom Turco of the Panthers. “They have quick, fast athletes and they have nine seniors. We haven’t been pressed like that [this season]. We’ve played a lot of really good teams and they are one of them.”

Barnstable skated to a win in the South Sectional Final, beating New Bedford 25-3, 25-8, 25-16. It didn’t take long to see that Franklin was going to be a much bigger challenge.

Each time the Raiders tried to pull away in the first set, Franklin stuck around. Kills from Ellie Wisniewski, Allyson Bonnet-Eymard, and Hailey Sanders each answered a point from Barnstable to keep the deficit at three. Barnstable built a six point lead at 16-10, but a 4-1 run from the Panthers again made the lead three points.

But Barnstable senior Riley James, the state’s all-time leader in kills, showed off her skill. She had four kills (in the final eight points, giving the Raiders a 1-0 lead. James finished with a season-high 24 kills in the match.

Franklin continued to battle in the second set, with six ties over the first 16 points, including at 8-8. Barnstable attempted to pull away at 12-9 but Franklin responded with a 4-1 run to knot the score at 13, getting a big kill from Maggie Doyle.

The Panthers got a nice kill from Wisniewski from the back row after a nice dig from Riley Marino to pull within one at 18-17 but were forced to call timeout when the Raiders won the next point. Barnstable went up 22-19 on a kill from Ingrid Murphy (16 kills) but Sanders landed a kill from the middle to get within two. After Barnstable went back up by three, the Panthers forced a hitting error to make it a two pint game again.

But once again, James was in the front row when the Raiders needed her most and she had two kills over the final three points to put Barnstable up 2-0.

“We wanted to have four hands on [James] at all times,” Weymouth said, We wanted two girls to block her wherever she went. We were right there…right there. But it is what it is, the girls worked so hard, they did great.

Barnstable went up 3-0 early in the third set but Franklin refused to fold. Franklin won seven of the next eight points to seize a 7-4 lead, highlighted by kills from Doyle, Sanders and Bonnet-Eymard — all on assists from senior Lauren McGrath.

Franklin kept its lead, and stretched it to 14-10 on a big block from senior Lily Galluccio to force Turco to take a timeout. The Panthers let Barnstable back in the game with three errors over the next four points to knot the score.

But Bonnet-Eymard sandwiched a pair of kills around a nice kill from McGrath to give Franklin a 19-16 lead, and again forcing a timeout from the Raiders.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

The Panthers led 22-19 after a kill from Doyle, and 23-21 after a service error from the Raiders, and were on the verge of giving Barnstable its first set loss of the season. Franklin’s Doyle and Sanders found a lot of success attacking from the middle spot.

“We knew coming that [Barnstable] wasn’t very effective from the middle,” Weymouth said. “Our middles were super effective I thought. You can only run your offense so well if your serve receive is in system. There were times when we wanted to run the middle but the serve receive was a little off and we were forced to go outside. But our middles were huge, they were unstoppable when they were swinging. I’m so proud of these girls for making it this far.”

A kill from Murphy and a Franklin hitting error tied the game, and Murphy used a perfectly place push just over the net for the final point and the win.

Franklin volleyball finishes the season at 20-1.

Franklin Goes Five Sets to Win First-Ever Sectional Title

Franklin volleyball
Libero Riley Marino (5) jumps for joy after a Franklin point during the D1 Central/West final at Wellesley High. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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WELLESLEY, Mass. – During a dominant regular season, Franklin was not pushed to five sets even once. In fact, the Panthers had only dropped three sets overall heading into the state tournament.

In three postseason games, Franklin has gone to five sets all three times and has won all three of them.

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That pattern held again in the Div. 1 Central/West final on Saturday evening at Wellesley High. Franklin cruised through the first two sets, demonstrating why the Panthers are still unbeaten, but then Shrewsbury rallied to win two straight and force a decisive final set. Franklin jumped out early to win the fifth set 15-5 and secure the program’s first-ever sectional title.

“You just have to work harder than the girls on the other side of the net, just want it, and I think it showed in the fifth set that they wanted it,” said first-year Franklin coach Kelsey Weymouth. “I’m beyond proud.”

Junior setter Lauren McGrath said, “We always have the energy but sometimes we doubt ourselves and we have to pick ourselves back up. We really proved that tonight in the fifth set; we came out strong.”

When asked how she felt to be the first Franklin team to win a sectional title, McGrath replied, “Amazing, I can’t even think right now. I’m blown away.”

Franklin was on a roll at the start of the match. The Panthers took their first lead at 8-7 of the opening set and never relinquished it, winning 25-22 to get the early advantage in the final. Defensively, the Panthers were tenacious, led by libero RRiley Marino, and didn’t allow the Colonials to find any rhythm.

“She’s a little spitball of fire,” Weymouth said of Marino. “Riley is probably one of the best defensive girls that I’ve seen in high school. She hustles every single ball, she’s always talking, she is always moving. Her heart is always in it.”

The dominant play continued in the second set, as Franklin took the lead at 9-8 and carried the lead all the way to a 25-21 win. Shrewsbury was struggling to keep up with the balance in the Panthers attack, which featured streaks from a number of hitters, including five kills in the second from Ellie Wisniewski and strong hitting in the middle from Maggie Doyle and Hailey Sanders.

The key to the Franklin attack was McGrath, who not only spread the ball around to all the hitters but always seemed to make the right decision as to who had the hot hand or who had the best look to beat the defense.

Weymouth said, “Lauren is good enough that she’ll put the ball to whoever is on. She does a very good job of spreading out the offense and knowing what time is right to go to what player.”

McGrath was asked how it feels to have so many weapons at her disposal as a setter and she responded, “It is the greatest thing in my life. I always get so excited. It’s awesome.”

Everything was going to plan for the Panthers until the start of the third set. It was as though a switch had been flipped and suddenly it was Shrewsbury dominating, the Colonials that never allowed a ball to hit the floor, and hitting every seam.

Franklin kept it close at first, trailing only 7-5, but then the Colonials rattled off five straight points to take control of the set. Peyton Arone subbed in for the Panthers to give the briefest of sparks, but Shrewsbury kept adding to its lead and won the set 25-17.

Any hope of the fourth set being different was put to rest quickly, as Shrewsbury raced out to a 9-2 lead. Serve-receive was a struggle, the Colonials were contesting every hit, and the Panthers couldn’t stem the momentum. Twice with Franklin hanging around, down by a handful of points, the teams put together long rallies filled with digs and great plays, but each time it was the Colonials that ended up with the point.

After Shrewsbury won the fourth 25-15, Weymouth gathered the team to refocus it on the task at hand – being the first to 15 points in the fifth. Whatever was said in that huddle seemed to work.

When the final set started, it was the Panthers from the start of the match that took the floor. Franklin pulled ahead 5-0 behind solid serving by Wisniewski and a kill from Allyson Bonnet-Eymard. Back-to-back kills by Doyle were followed by back-to-back kills by Lily Gallucio and a kill from Sanders. Suddenly it was 10-1 and it was Shrewsbury struggling to find any momentum.

“Having that first one under our belt gave them the confidence that we can do it,” said Weymouth. “I know going into a fifth set that we can do it. It was all on them.”

Wisniewski set up match point with a kill and Doyle finished it off with one of her own. The Panthers won the fifth set, the match, and the championship at a gallop.

Franklin (20-0) will advance to the state semifinal and will host perennial state power Barnstable.

Weymouth never won a sectional title as a player during a standout career at North Attleboro. The closest that she came was as a junior, when the Rocketeers lost to Barnstable in the South final. Although it is a different experience as a coach, she is enjoying every minute.

“It feels pretty great,” she explained. “I had been in their shoes and I wanted it for them. It’s huge and they deserve it more than anything.”

Facing a team widely considered the best in the state is a challenge, but McGrath is relishing the chance to show that Franklin belongs in the conversation.

“It’s the craziest thing,” she said. “We want it so bad. At the beginning of the season, we knew we’d be that strong team and we’re going to go out there and prove that we’re a damn good team.”

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Franklin Clinches Kelley-Rex Crown With Sweep Of KP

Franklin volleyball
Franklin players celebrate after winning the first set over King Philip. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
WRENTHAM, Mass. – First-year Franklin head coach Kelsey Weymouth didn’t talk about her team’s chance to clinch a league title before its big showdown with King Philip, so she wasn’t quite sure if they knew.

But based on how the Panthers played, especially early, it didn’t take long to figure out how prepared they were.

“That was the best volleyball I’ve seen them play,” Weymouth said. “I wanted them to just play volleyball today, so I didn’t say anything. The first time we played KP was a competitive match, so we knew it would be even more competitive this time around. We focused our practice yesterday to gameplan for [King Philip], we tailored it to their strengths we so we’d be prepared today.

“I just told them to play to have fun and play to win, and that’s exactly what they did.”

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

While Franklin had a dominant showing in the first set, the Panthers had to rally past a resilient King Philip squad in the second set, and fight through a close battle in the third set to secure the 3-0 win (25-11, 25-21, 25-16).

With the win, Franklin clinched the Kelley-Rex division title. It marks the program’s first Hock title since 2015 and first outright title since 2011.

After a back-and-forth opening, Franklin used a 9-2 run to break the game open. Leading 6-5, the Panthers got contributions from all over to take the lead.

Sophomore Allyson Bonnet-Eymard had an ace early in the run, Maggie Doyle (six kills) and Ellie Wisniewski added a kill apiece, Lauren McGrath (24 assists) landed an ace, and Doyle and Hailey Sanders (nine kills, two blocks) up with an emphatic block to put the Panthers ahead 15-7.

After some back-and-forth, the Panthers went on another big run (10-4) to close out the first set. Bonnet-Eymard and Doyle had back-to-back kills, and Sanders and Emma Chase combined for a block to give Franklin the momentum. After consecutive KP errors, Franklin emerged with a 25-11 win.

That momentum carried over into the second set with Franklin jumping out to a 7-1 lead, but King Philip responded with some nice swings and a 10-4 run to tie the game at 11-11 on a kill from Catherine Waldeck.

With the teams tied at 16 apiece, KP rattled off three straight points, including a kill from Nicole Coughlan, to take a 19-16 lead and force a timeout from Franklin.

“We talk a lot about our side out percentage, and not letting one mistake bother us too much,” Weymouth said. “We can’t let one point against us turn into two, and two to turn into three. It’s all about focusing on the next play, and even if you don’t win that one, you move on to the next one. When we were down a couple of points, they didn’t let that get to them, and I think that helped us be able to come back.”

The Panthers came out of the timeout and quickly tied the game with Sanders sandwiching a pair of kills around a nice push from McGrath to knot the score 19-19.

Despite a timeout from KP, Sanders continued to have the hot hand and had a kill and a block kill (along with Chase) right out of the timeout to keep the momentum with the Panthers.

“Hailey played phenomenal for us,” Weymouth said. “She finished with nine kills total, and we’ve been working with her this season to get her to hit like that. We knew coming in she was a strong hitter, and now she’s taking what we’ve taught her and using it. I saw a new player in her today, the confidence was there, she was smiling, and she was swinging away.

KP tied the game with two straight points (21-21), but KP closed with five straight, including a kill from Peyton Arone (five kills) and an ace from Shannon Gray (three aces), to notch a 25-21 win and take a 2-0 lead.

The third set started 4-4, but Franklin went on another big run to create the separation it needed. The Panthers won 11 of the next 14 points to build a 15-7 advantage. Sanders, Arone, and Wisniewski had three straight kills, Gray had back-to-back aces, and McGrath got in on the action as well with a kill.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

A big block from Waldeck helped King Philip get within three (down 19-16), but that would be the final points for the Warriors. Franklin finished with a 6-0 run, including three aces from Bonnet-Eymard to ice the game.

“We knew KP had some good hitters coming in, so our net play was going to be important, we needed to dominate there,” Weymouth said. “We practiced on our double blocks, and we had to use those tonight. And on top of that, our defense needed to be strong, and it was.”

Franklin volleyball (12-0 Hock, 13-0 overall) is back in action on Monday when they host Mansfield. King Philip (7-5, 7-6) will try to bounce right back as they return to the court on Friday against Walpole.

Balanced Attack Leads Franklin Past King Philip

Franklin volleyball
Franklin’s Hailey Sanders connects on an attack in the second set against King Philip. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
FRANKLIN, Mass. – It doesn’t matter where Franklin volleyball is in its rotation on the court, first-year Panthers head coach Kelsey Weymouth is confident the offense can get it done.

Franklin’s balanced offense was on full display on Wednesday evening, with five players registering at least four kills to help the Panthers sweep visiting King Philip, 3-0 (25-22, 25-18, 25-16).

Senior Ellie Wisniewski (three aces) and sophomore Allyson Bonnet-Eymard (seven digs) tied for a team-high eight kills from the outside hitter spot, senior Hailey Sanders (two blocks) added five kills from the right side, and senior middle Maggie Doyle (three blocks) was responsible for four kills.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

And on top of that, setter Lauren McGrath (27 assists, two aces) provided an extra offensive punch with five kills.

“No matter who is in the front row, I have confidence in them,” Weymouth said. “It’s a reassuring feeling knowing that whoever is up there, I have confidence they will put the balls down.

“And Lauren is a versatile setter, she knows how to run an offense, she knows when to put the ball to a certain player. Those four hitters [Sanders, Wisniewski, Doyle, Bonnet-Eymard] know how to work hard, find spots and put the ball down.”

The balance came in handy in an incredibly tight first set. Franklin’s largest lead was four points (three occasions) while King Philip led by three (9-6) early on. The set was tied on eight occasions, including at 13, 15, 16, 17, 18, and 19.

Bonnet-Eymard, Wisniewski, and Sanders each had two kills in the opening set. Holding a 21-20 lead, Bonnet-Eymard smashed down a kill to put the Panthers up by two. Back-to-back errors from KP pushed Franklin near set point. The Panthers had two errors of their own but clinched the set with a net infraction.

“In this environment, against a team like that, for the girls to come out and win that first was a big confidence booster,” Weymouth said. “We knew this wouldn’t be an easy game against KP, it never is. I told the girls that as long as they push every single point and make them do the work, we’ll be fine. We had to be ready for them to come back but the girls did a nice job staying on the attack.”

When KP had its largest lead of the opening set (9-6), Franklin responded with a 7-0 run to force a King Philip timeout. Two Warrior errors sandwiched a kill from Franklin’s Emma Chase to knot it 9-9.

McGrath caught the defense with a dump on the second touch for a kill, Bonnet-Eymard followed with an ace, and Wisniewski slammed down back-to-back shots for a 13-9 advantage.

“We were making too many errors early and we’re too good of a team to do that,” Weymouth said. “I think they just needed a deep breath and they did a nice job to rally back. We want our side out percentage to be high, we don’t want teams to go on runs.”

For Warrior head coach Kristen Guess, it was all about unforced errors in the opening set (12 errors).

“I definitely think the first two games we beat ourselves,” Guess said. “We made a lot of unforced errors, especially in the first game. It could have been a lot closer and it could have gone either way. We had a lot of miscommunication errors that we normally don’t do. We have a couple of young players on the floor that don’t have a lot of experience and I think that could have had an impact. I definitely think we need to communicate more.

“If we take the first game, then the momentum is with us and maybe we take the second game. But Franklin is a good team, they played well. You can’t take anything away from them. We could have played better, but it just wasn’t our night.”

The second set was just as close as the first one. A kill from McGrath and a KP error gave Franklin its largest lead of the match to that point (11-6). But the Warriors quickly rattled off a 5-1 run, including an ace from Grace Ely and a kill and ace from Nicole Coughlan to bring the Warriors within one (12-11).

But the Panthers responded by winning six of the next eight points. Wisniewski looked to have a kill an original attack but it was popped back up on a nice defensive play by KP libero Olivia Atkins. The ball floated back up by the net and Wisniewski reacted quickly, slamming the free ball back down for an 18-13 lead.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Bonnet-Eymard ended the set with back-to-back kills to give the Panthers a 25-18 win and a 2-0 advantage.

The Warriors kept close through the early stages of the third set but Franklin was able to create enough separation with a 4-1 burst midway through. Doyle and Bonnet-Eymard had back-to-back kills, and the latter added an ace for an 18-11 lead. KP got within four (19-15) but the home side was able to finish the game off.

Riley Marino anchored the Panther defense with 10 digs. Ely had a team-high eight kills for the Warriors, Coughlan added seven kills, and Catherine Waldeck finished with six kills.

Franklin volleyball (2-0 Hockomock, 3-0 overall) hits the road on Friday to take on Canton. King Philip (1-1, 1-1) is back in action on the same day when it visits Milford.