ATTLEBORO, Mass. – In a shortened fifth set, getting off to a good start is paramount. After battling back to even Wednesday night’s match at two sets apiece, Milford carried the momentum over, winning seven of the final set’s first eight points and never looking back.
The Hawks came back from down a set twice in the match before finally pulling out a 3-2 (17-25, 25-7, 19-25, 25-14, 15-7) road victory that completes a hard-fought season sweep of the Bombardiers and moves Milford back to .500 on the year.
“The consistency wasn’t there tonight, that’s for sure,” admitted Milford coach Tammy Webber, who praised her team for being able to battle and still come out with the win. She added, “That’s a sign of growth that they were able to do that because I’d say in the past we would’ve folded in the fifth set.”
Attleboro has struggled in the opening set of its last two matches (at Taunton and at Milford) and found it hard to climb back out of the early hole. On Wednesday, the Bombardiers came out with extra energy and an emphasis on starting quickly. It worked.
The Bombardiers used a 7-0 run to turn a 6-3 deficit into a 10-6 lead in the first. Gabriella Bolduc gave Attleboro an early spark with a couple of kills and Summer Pereira stepped up in the middle with three blocks in the first. After Milford answered with three straight, Attleboro rattled off 10 of the next 14 points to take control of the set.
“Playing on the road is always difficult,” said first-year Attleboro coach Mary Katherine Runey. “Our fans aren’t there and we’re staying on the bus until we’re allowed to come in and that’s definitely taking a hit on us, but I was excited to get back at home because I know we have way more energy.”
“The block has not been there all season and the defense has really taken a hit,” Runey said, “but tonight the switch was flipped and Summer was hot and I was so happy to see it. She really need that for her own play and I was happy for her.”
After such a great start, it looked like Attleboro was on its way, but the second set was all Milford. The Hawks scored 13 of the first 14 points in the set and then closed it with the final eight points to earn a lopsided point in the match.
Cressida Michalowski had three aces during the first portion of the set. Lexi Starks had a bump drop in for a point and Sarah Brogioli started to heat up on the outside. During the final run to close out the set, Starks added a pair of aces and Aliza Syed scored with a tip and a block. The combination of Brogioli on the outside and Syed in the middle was tough for Attleboro to contain.
Webber said, “I’m happy with the balance of our hitters this year. We have a good mix of strength and finesse and consistency. It’s been good.”
The hosts quickly set aside the difficult second set and got back to the strong serve-receive game that they played at the start of the match, but a Syed kill had the Hawks up 14-11. Attleboro didn’t panic and scored the next seven points to take the lead.
Pereira got it started with a block that fired up the Bombardiers and Kate Petrosso had a big swing in the middle to tie the set at 14-14. Milford kept things close but a couple of errors a service point from Lily Boedeker gave Attleboro a cushion to restore its lead in the match.
Milford seemed to thrive in the even numbered sets. With Attleboro leading the fourth 7-6, nine of the next 10 points to put themselves in front to stay. Starks got it going with a kill and then a well-place tip and Brogioli had back-to-back aces for a 15-8 lead. Brojek answered with a nice tip over the block but Brogioli had a pair of kills and Michalowski had an ace.
After Fauerbach scored with a swing off the Attleboro block, Syed added a kill. Brogioli closed out the fourth with another big hit on the outside.
“If the other team gets three or four in a row, then they start to lose their confidence in themselves,” Runey explained. “We need to develop our winning mindset and as soon as they see that start to slip away it really takes its toll on their confidence.”
Now that Milford was back in it, the Hawks made sure to close things out. Syed had a kill and a block and Emily Croteau added an ace as the visitors scored the first four points of the fifth set. Michalowski added back-to-back aces, the first hitting the top of the net before dropping in, and Attleboro never recovered. The Bombardiers got no closer than four and the Hawks pulled away to get the win.
“You never want to have to come back in the fifth set,” said Webber. “Our serving has been our go-to so far this season and when it fails us it really affects our game and we scored a lot of points of it but we really needed it in the fifth game.”
After starting with two tough matches against league-leading Franklin, Milford (2-2) has built a little momentum heading into two matches against King Philip.
“We were trying not to gauge our whole season off of Franklin,” Webber said. “It was a little measuring stick, but we knew we could play better than that and we played better this week.”
Attleboro (1-3) will look to rebound when it hosts Mansfield on Monday.
There is a new level of excitement in the gymnasium at Attleboro High as Mary Katherine Runey takes over as the varsity coach for the Bombardiers.
Attleboro has a mix of returners with experience and new faces to the varsity level, and Runey believes her squad has a tremendous amount of potential. It all starts with senior Ana Leonardo, a four-year starter at the setter position for the Bombardiers. Attleboro has plenty of depth at the setter position with freshman Natalie Brojek joining the mix right away. Leonardo and Brojek will have some experienced hitters to work with including senior opposite Krista Greening, senior middle Kosi Igbobi, and junior outside Delia Barthel. Junior captain Lilly Boedeker brings a lot of energy and experience to the defensive end as the libero, anchoring the Bombardiers’ back row.
“Our program is very excited to be back on the court,” Runey said. “We have a great mix of returning players as well as athletes new to the varsity level. I believe our team has a tremendous amount of potential, and I cannot wait to see what we accomplish this year. Ana and Natalie will certainly bring an intensity to our offense and Lilly matches that defensively.”
2019 Record: 22-3 (Davenport Division Champions) 2019 Finish: Division 2 State Champions Coach: Pat Cawley
The 2019 season was a banner year for the Bulldogs, claiming the Davenport division, the D2 Central sectional crown, and the program’s first ever D2 State Championship.
The returners have been eager to defend their championships, and after waiting just a little bit longer, the Bulldogs have their chance to at least battle for another Hock title. There’s an obvious void in the lineup with the graduation of HockomockSports.com Player of the Year Taylor Harris, one of the most feared hitters in the entire state. But longtime head coach Pat Cawley has an arsenal of weapons at her disposal that makes Canton the team to beat again this year. Senior middle Liz Bickett gets it done both offensively and defensively at the net and is a reliable option in the back row. Senior outside hitter Angie Elias is a reliable option at the net as well as senior middle Shannon Malloy. Senior Jackie Morrissey stepped into the setter role last year and really improved as the season went on while classmate Olivia Chinsen, a captain, is another option at setter after returning from injury. Seniors Nikki Desjardins (libero) and Stephanie Trendell will anchor the Bulldogs’ defense in the back row.
“We are excited and grateful to be back on the court,” Cawley said. “Although we have big shoes to fill at the outside hitter positions, we return several experienced players at middle blocker, setter, and defense. Senior captain Olivia Chinsen and junior Sydney Gallery are back from season-ending injuries and will help make us a stronger team. We are concentrating on building better chemistry and communication, always striving to be the best we can be!”
2019 Record: 11-10 2019 Finish: Reached D2 Central First Round Coach: Vicki Santana
In head coach Vicki Santana’s first year in charge, the Warriors won 11 games and reached the postseason and Foxboro will hope to build on that momentum this season with 10 seniors on the roster.
Defensively, the Warriors should be tough. Kelsey Treweek returns at libero along with defensive specialists Pam Nelson and Grace Fortune. Nelson and Treweek were among the league leaders in digs in the 2019 season. Leading hitter Grace Boudreau graduated, but Santana is counting on several players to provide points with versatile hitters Emma Keefe and Shannon McDonald in the starting lineup. Underclassmen Sami Sloan and Mallorie Meyer will add depth at the net and have the potential to provide an instant impact
“Tryouts and practice were a little bit of a challenge to make sure we are following the Covid guidelines while still having fun and being competitive,” Santana said. “The girls have been so great and are staying positive through all of this. They are taking all of the guidelines seriously because they are so happy to be back in the gym!”
Franklin is coming off back-to-back Kelley-Rex division titles and is in search of their third straight this season, but will be doing so under new guidance. Sam Elliott takes over as head coach of the Panthers after Kelsey Weymouth moved on to the collegiate level after two successful years at the helm.
Elliott is familiar with the program after serving as an assistant last season and she knows she has the pieces to make a push to hang another division title banner in this abbreviated season. Senior captain Ally Bonnet-Eymard enters her fourth year with the team and is among the most dangerous hitters in the league (205 kills) from the left side. She’ll be flanked by senior Emma Chase, who is back for her second straight year starting at middle and gives Franklin a weapon both offensively and defensively. Junior Cailyn Mackintosh really impressed in her first season last year and will be the starting setter while Jill Benoit returns as the starting libero. Elliott is also looking for some younger faces to push for time including sophomore Meghan Linkkila and freshmen Taylor Lacerda and Grace Lacerda.
“We are excited to have the opportunity to play this year, with six seniors it is important that they were able to have their final season,” Elliott said. “As a program we are excited to compete and improve, our group is a mix of returners and new players so it will be fun watching them all come together.”
There will be a lot of familiar faces on the court this season for King Philip, who is looking to ride a strong senior class and an experienced group of players to a second straight Kelley-Rex crown.
Head coach Kristen Guess has weapons all over the court, starting with her three senior captains. Middle Nicole Coughlan has been a force at the net for the past two years and will be one of the toughest players to stop this year. Fellow captains Emma Brooks and Lily Carlow, who both have a lot of experience at the varsity level will anchor the Warriors’ defense from the back row. Senior Giovanna Fruci will be one of KP’s top options at the net as well as sophomore Ahunna James, who had some impressive swings in limited action last year. Guess is looking for seniors Paige Kannally and Camryn Buckley to step up and help with blocking at the net while senior Lauren Peterson will set the entire team in motion from the setter position. Junior Stella Bailey and sophomore Sami Shore have played well in preseason and should be in the mix as well.
“This the most experienced team I have coached, we have depth on the team with strong newcomers,” Guess said.
We are excited to have a season and are ready to play.”
2019 Record: 8-11 2019 Finish: Missed playoffs Coach: Mark Ledwich
Longtime head coach Melissa Heeden stepped down over the offseason so the Hornets enter this season under the guidance of their new head coach Mark Ledwich. Ledwich is familiar with volleyball in the area as the director of the sport at Mass Premier Courts and brings experience from the collegiate level to the job.
Ledwich has an experienced group to work with during his first year with six players back from last year’s team, most of which saw either starting or at least valuable minutes at the varsity level. The Hornets will have a variety of weapons on the offensive end with its top four attackers back from last year. Junior Julia Kelly (124 kills) led the squad in kills as a sophomore and will be one of the most dangerous hitters in the league this year while Alina Nowakowski, Olivia McGrath, and Kacey Veiking all provide legitimate threats at the net. All four will start the Hornet defense will their blocking with Veiking (35 blocks) among the top returners in that category.
“Our focus this season is on error management and when to stretch a point,” Ledwich said. “We have a lot of heavy hands this year, so knowing when to utilize them in each situation has been a huge focus of the pre-season. With the consistent height we have available in the front row this season we are spending a lot of time discussing approach paths of opposing attackers and how we should funnel each attack to best utilize our attacking strengths.”
2019 Record: 10-10 2019 Finish: Reached D2 Central First Round Coach: Tammy Webber
The Hawks have reached the postseason in each of the past two seasons, and while there isn’t a state tournament this year, Milford is aiming to attain the success that comes with a playoff berth.
Making the switch to the Kelley-Rex will be challenging, but one the Hawks are ready for. With a strong mix of returning players with varsity experience and some new players looking to make a splash, Milford could surprise some teams along the way. Elise Fauerbach returns for her senior season after missing significant time last year due to an injury. Fauerbach will patrol the right side, giving the Hawks a good option defensively with her size, and has a high volleyball IQ. Milford has two key defensive players back with senior Eva Parson (106 digs), who took on the role of libero last season but is in the mix to step into the full rotation, even getting swings as an outside hitter. Junior Sarah Brogioli can play just about anywhere on the court, a reliable option in the back row (106 digs) while also capable of stepping up to the net and connecting on some big swings (96 kills). Lexi Stark is an athletic option at middle that can move side-to-side to help with blocking in all three spots at the net. Sophomore Emily Crouteau is penciled into the setter role to start the year while Aliza Syed will be an option at the net for the Hawks.
2019 Record: 13-6 2019 Finish: Reached D1 South First Round Coach: Kim Marshall
North Attleboro has been one of the biggest challengers to Canton’s reign atop the Davenport division in recent years, and the Rocketeers are going to be right back in the mix again during this Fall 2 season.
Head coach Kim Marshall has four returning seniors that all have valuable experience at the varsity level and then a strong junior class with consists of eight players ready to make a splash at the varsity level. Senior Joanna Collins-Bilyeu is one of the most experienced players in the league and will be a cornerstone at the net for the Rocketeers after putting down 67 kills a year ago. She will be joined by classmates Annie Grunewald and Jasmine Anderson along the net to give North a formidable attacking trio. Belle Clarkin will anchor the back row that features some new faces so the Rocketeers will be learning as the season goes on. Junior Katherine McHoul is stepping in to take over at the setter position to run the offense.
“I am really excited for this season to start, I just wish it wasn’t so short,” said Marshall. “I am very fortunate, again, to get a wonderful group of student-athletes who continually work so hard, support each other and are so much fun to be around.”
2019 Record: 18-5 2019 Finish: Reached D1 South Final Coach: Chelsea Cunningham
Oliver Ames made a run to the Div. 1 South final in 2019 and pushed perennial power Barnstable to a decisive fifth set and, after moving to the Davenport division this season, the Tigers have the potential to give defending state champ Canton a serious challenge for the league title.
Senior Caroline Flynn will be one of the team’s primary attackers on the outside and will get help from classmate Jordan Bennett, who is recovering from an injury but can play multiple positions along the front line. Senior Tori Harney is back after missing all of last season with an injury and will compete for a starting role as a middle hitter. Senior Sarah Morley will transition from defensive specialist to libero this year with senior Allie Zwerle providing leadership in the DS role. Junior Hadley Rhodes will step in as the setter this season, replacing the program’s all-time leader in assists, Allie Kemp, while sophomore Maddie Homer will add athleticism on the back row.
“This team has so much potential to build off of the best season this program has had to date- and we have work to do,” said OA coach Chelsea Cunningham. “With this season being so short, we are hoping to make every moment count in the gym. From bonding with everyone on the team, to mixing up the lineups, and everyone being ready to compete- it’s exciting to FINALLY play after the long wait.”
2019 Record: 6-13 2019 Finish: Missed playoffs Coach: Andrea Lovett
The foundation of the Sharon volleyball this season will be its senior class, a strong group of experienced players hungry to make some noise in the Davenport division this season.
The Eagles have four returning seniors in Brynne Aidlin-Perlman, Yvette Nau, Leah Fandel, and Sarah Fandel; all four can play in a variety of roles for Sharon. Aidlin-Perlman is a leader both on and off the court and provides the Eagles with solid defense plus a strong swing from the outside hitter position. Nau is back for another year as the team’s setter and will quarterback the offense, having all three of her classmates as good options at the net. Sara Fandel put a lot of work in during the offseason and has improved greatly at the net and provides the Eagles with a reliable defensive option in the back row while Leah Fandel is a two-way threat at the net from the middle position.
“We have four returning seniors that provide a very solid base for a talented team,” said Sharon head coach Andrea Lovett. “The team is rounded out with talented juniors who will be taking us into next year. Sharon expects to be a threat in our “Hock Bubble” this season.”
2019 Record: 2-14 2019 Finish: Missed playoffs Coach: Felicia Baptista
The Black Knights are looking to bounce back in a big way during the Fall 2 season. Felicia Baptista is moving up from subvarsity to take over the varsity squad.
Baptista will have a lot of new faces that are new to the varsity level so she plans to rely heavily on her two returners, especially in the early going. That means senior Shanice Landrum and senior Camille Firmin will be key leaders both on and off the court this year as Stoughton looks to battle for the Davenport division crown. Landrum led the team in kills last season with 86 and was one of the best blockers in the Hockomock League with 63. Firmin should see an expanded role at the net as the Knights look to integrate new faces into its lineup under Baptista.
“Even though it is a big building season for us, our team dynamic seems like we have been playing together for years,” Baptista said. “Every day I see big improvements with communication on the court and our defense is looking solid. This year is unique for us because we do have a few boys on our roster and, not only do they bring talent, but they add a light and fun atmosphere to the gym.”
With a large group of experienced players returning this season, the Tigers are eager to put last season behind them and make a splash this year.
Taunton has 10 seniors in total, with nine of them returning players from last season along with one returning junior, so experience will be a strength for this year’s squad. The Tigers will be looking to turn their experience at the varsity level into success on the court in the abbreviated Fall 2 season. Senior captain Jaelyn Fernandez will put the offense into motion from the setter spot and will have some weapons to work with along the net. The Tigers have all three of their top attackers back from a year ago, including senior captain and outside hitter Ella Dunderdale, who led the Tigers in kills last season with 89 kills. Senior Sonya Fernandez (83 kills) and junior Mikayla Cleary (63 kills) will also give the Tigers options from the middle and opposite spots. Seniors Makena Travers, Kailara Andrade, and Fabiana Pereira will anchor the back row for the Tigers. With experience in multiple spots, depth will be key for Taunton this year.
“We are just looking forward to the competition but as we know in the Kelley-Rex you have to be focused and be ready to bring it every night as every team is tough,” said Taunton head coach Toby Chaperon. “We are just hoping we can rise to the challenge each and every match and hope that our execution is sharp.”
MILFORD, Mass. – Oliver Ames dominated the first two sets of Tuesday evening’s battle of division leaders at Milford, winning 25-11 and 25-14 to take control of the match. Everything was going OA’s way until the third set, when the Hawks stayed alive by grabbing a 25-19 win.
Just when it looked like the hosts might also be able to grab the momentum and add drama to the match, OA took back control. The Tigers rolled in the fourth and final set, winning 25-12, to earn an impressive bounce back 3-1 victory that keeps them just ahead of Franklin and King Philip in the Kelley-Rex division title race.
“I said, the game’s not over,” said OA coach Chelsea Cunningham about her message to the team heading into the fourth set. “The game’s never over until you hear the whistle blow and if you take it one point at a time, play together, it makes a world of difference.”
Milford entered Tuesday’s game in a three-way tie for first in the Davenport division with Canton and North Attleboro and the Hawks started well enough in the opening set. Lauren Corsini had a pair of kills and Sarah Brogioli had an ace to put the home team up 4-2 early. That was the high point of the set for the Hawks.
OA setter Allie Kemp (27 assists) started spreading the ball around to the Tigers’ talented hitters, with Jordan Bosse (team-high 13 kills) and Ryley McNeeley (10 kills) both finding the range on the outside. The balance in the OA attack proved difficult for Milford to control.
Cunningham explained, “It’s nice to have options rather than rely on one person and strain that player. I like having options and the kids know they’re all options, so being able to mix it up and have a flexible lineup is really fun to work with.”
The Hawks also hurt themselves. Shorthanded after an injury ruled junior hitter Elise Fauerbach out for the season, Milford looked out of sorts in all aspects of the game from serve-receive to hitting to defense. OA took advantage to jump in front and never look back.
“Everything was off,” said Milford coach Tammy Webber. “We didn’t have everyone at practice yesterday. Elise went off [injured] on Friday, so we didn’t practice as a team with the new lineup. Not that it matters…we were just flat. We adjusted finally and then we didn’t stick with our game plan.”
The second set started even worse for Milford. OA won eight straight points to build an 11-1 lead. McNeeley continued to find the range on the outside and Sarah Morley had a pair of aces during her eight-point run at the service line. The Hawks tried to battle back behind Allison Corsini’s kills from her middle position, but OA quickly snuffed out any momentum.
Jordyn Vella smashed a kill right down the middle to make it 17-6. Brogioli got hot at the service line with three aces that cut the lead to nine, but Bosse closed out the set with another kill that put OA in position to take the match.
While it was an admittedly rough night for the Hawks, they showed fight in the third set to keep from being swept. The hosts grabbed the lead on back-to-back Brogioli kills, a block by Lauren Corsini, and an ace by Lexi Starks. OA got back within five, but consecutive kills by setter Julia Riordan and hitter Alyssa Williamson made it 22-15 and essentially sealed the set.
“We started blocking and playing defense and we were able to set up our offense, swinging and not making unforced errors,” said Webber. She added, “We need to rise to the occasion. We need to play better against the better teams, consistently.”
After extending the match, it looked like the home team might make it an interesting finish, but instead the Tigers responded, leading 6-1 and 9-2 to halt any momentum. Sophomore Hadley Rhodes gave OA a spark in the fourth set with back-to-back kills that made it 14-5 and then a block that put the Tigers ahead 22-8.
“She’s awesome,” Cunningham said about Rhodes. “She’s young, she wants to play, will do anything to get on the floor and when she gets that time she puts 100 percent in. I’ll take someone who’s feisty and wants to take risks.”
It was an important road win for the Tigers, keeping them one ahead of Franklin in the loss column and now two ahead of King Philip in the win column (OA has played two more league games than the Warriors).
Cunningham said, “We had to take this one seriously and know that we had to earn it. They’re starting to learn that when they earn their points it’s more fun that relying on other teams making mistakes.”
Oliver Ames (9-2, 8-1) will look to avenge one of its losses when it hosts Brockton on Friday. Milford (6-4, 6-3) will try to bounce back at league-leading Canton on Monday.