MANSFIELD, Mass. – As fans started to trickle into the gym in the minutes before the scheduled start of Wednesday evening’s playoff opener in the Albertini Gym, they saw the Mansfield players standing by the bench but no one on the visitor’s side. Chelsea’s bus was caught in traffic on its way from Boston and the start of the match was delayed by nearly an hour.
Energy was high during the original warmups but the break sapped some of the intensity in the gym and, with the Chelsea players coming off a long trip on the bus, both teams struggled to find a rhythm early on.
It took a few sets, but Mansfield finally found its groove, making its height advantage count at the net and feeding off the home crowd to pull out a 3-1 (25-21, 21-25, 25-22, 25-13) victory that sets up a rematch with league rival Oliver Ames in the Div. 2 Round of 32.
“I think they were ready to go early,” said Mansfield coach Tara DeGirolamo about the late start to the match. “They were doing their sixes and we had to stop them because we were afraid they’d lose their energy and then these poor kiddos on their bus for several hours. It just hurt both teams. We definitely had to shake that rust off.”
When asked about getting a third shot at OA, DeGirolamo replied, “I think they’re so excited to play OA again, since we’ve seen them twice. It gives us confidence that we’re going to a familiar site, familiar kiddos. It will definitely be a tough match. They’re a great team.”
Both teams were a little slow out of the gates, but Chelsea hitter Tatiana Sanabria Herrera was causing problems on the outside and helped the Red Devils take the early 7-4 lead. Lily Campbell had a couple of points in the middle to help Mansfield come back and freshman Gabrielle Moore had a kill to put the hosts in front 9-8.
The Red Devils came back to tie the set at 13 apiece but a serve into the net, an issue for the visitors all night, and a kill by Lilly Verheggen restored Mansfield’s advantage. Elyssa Buchanan added a kill and an ace to help the hosts lead 18-15. The lead stretched to as many as five points, but Chelsea went on a 4-0 run to get back within one.
After a service error, Lexie Scibilia was set in the middle and she smashed in a kill to put the Hornets up three. An ace from setter Keira Fitzpatrick would seal the opening set and Mansfield looked ready to take control of the match.
Momentum didn’t carry over for the hosts. Herrera continued to be the most consistent hitter in the match and she helped Chelsea open up an 11-4 lead in the second. Ella Mahoney spiked one off the block and Scibilia had a nice block for a point. Moore got another kill from the back row to help cut the lead to 13-11.
Back-to-back swings by Buchanan tied the set at 17-17 and Verheggen was able to pick the back corner with a hit to put Mansfield in front for the first time in the second, but Chelsea won seven of the next nine points to level the match. Herrera closed out the set with yet another kill.
The third set felt pivotal, like whichever team could win it would be able to see out the win and, fittingly, it was back-and-forth from the start with the largest lead for either team being three points.
Buchanan had an ace and Campbell followed with a kill to put the Hornets in front 9-7. Campbell added a nice block in the middle for a point and Buchanan found some space on a tip. Chelsea came right back, winning three straight points to take the 15-14 lead. Buchanan blasted a hit down the middle to tie it and then fired an ace just inside the back line to regain the advantage.
After a long rally, Jasmine Maradiaga Varela found the court with a bump and Herrera got points on two straight serves. With Chelsea up 20-18, freshman setter Tessa Blacquier came up with a huge dig that soared into the back corner for a point, sparking a 4-0 Mansfield run. Verheggen added a point and then finished the set with a swing off the Chelsea block to give the Hornets a chance to see out the match.
Using a hot start to the fourth set, Mansfield seemed to finally break Chelsea’s resistance. A Fitzpatrick ace, a Verheggen kill, a Fitzpatrick dig leading to a Mahoney kill, and a Scibilia bump that dropped in for a point added up to an 8-1 lead.
DeGirolamo said, “We always want them to start out strong because volleyball is such a mental game that whenever they’re positive and that energy is up, they do such a great job and it carries them.”
Credit to the Red Devils for not folding once they fell behind, but Campbell was able to stymie a run by finding a point with a push shot and a Buchanan ace made it 13-6. Scibilia started to take over in the fourth. She had back-to-back kills to extend the lead to nine and then smashed one off the block for a 20-11 lead.
Mahoney picked the back corner with a swing and Mansfield cruised to a comfortable denouement of a match that had been anything but comfortable up to that point.
“We saw a little film on them and they looked very scrappy, so our goal was to take out their setter, get them out of system, and when we could then we were successful,” DeGirolamo explained. “In the fourth set, when we got the swings going we used our height and we used that to our advantage.”
Mansfield (7-10) closed the regular season with one win its final eight matches but will hope to take momentum from the play-in round into its trip to Oliver Ames on Friday evening.
Attleboro, 2 @ Taunton, 0 – Final – Attleboro scored early in the opening quarter and added a key insurance goal early in the final quarter to earn a win on the road at Taunton. Marley Young opened the scoring just under four minutes into the game, taking a pass from Siobhan Landers and finding the back of the net to establish a 1-0 lead. After back-to-back scoreless quarters, Stella Krawiec scored off of a pass from Young less than five minutes into the fourth to make it 2-0. “I’m really proud of the girls for playing their game and using great passing skills around an aggressive Taunton team,” said Attleboro head coach Jess Pink. Attleboro’s Siany Ortez made seven saves in net for the shutout.
Franklin, 10 @ North Attleboro, 1 – Final – Franklin came out of the gate flying with five first quarter goals and never let up on its way to a win over the Rocketeer. Kaitlyn Carney was nearly unstoppable, scoring four of her five goals in the opening 15 minutes of play while Emily Carney had the other goal. Haley Wernig, Shaw Downing, Ella Aldred, and Sydney Rogan also scored for the Panthers. North scored just past the midway point of the second as Caroline Folan scored off of an assist from Francesca Spencer. Julia Puccio orchestrated the goal by knocking down a Franklin aerial and started the counter with Spencer. Gracie Leary (six saves) and Eman Farid (12 saves) played well in net for North. Devon Barry and Megan Sullivan each made three saves for Franklin.
King Philip, 8 @ Milford, 0 – Final – King Philip juniors Mara Boldy and Kelly Holmes each recorded four points to help the Warriors earn a big win on the road over Milford. Boldy scored a hat trick and had one assist while Holmes found the back of the net once and notched three assists. Meg Dowling added two goals, Nikki McDonald scored once and added one helper, and Makenzie McDevitt added a goal for KP.
Sharon, 0 @ Mansfield, 4 – Final – Mansfield got off to a great start with four goals in the opening half and that was enough to earn a win over visiting Sharon. Rose Maher opened the scoring less than a minute into the game, converting a pass from Ava Adams at the 56-second mark to make it 1-0. Lola Varricchione (from Danni Cuzzi) and Maher added to Mansfield’s lead with first quarter goals while Liv Barry made it 4-0, finishing off a pass from Ella Palanza in the second quarter. Lily Danehy earned the shutout in net for the hosts.
Canton, 1 @ Oliver Ames, 3 – Final – Canton came storming back to win the third set to keep the match going, but Oliver Ames closed it out with a hard-fought fourth set to take a 3-1 (25-16, 25-19, 11-25, 25-20) win over the Bulldogs. OA senior Maddie Homer recorded 31 digs to eclipse the 1,000-dig mark for her career. Sophomore Clare Kavoulis dished out 37 assists, junior Sarah Hilliard landed 18 kills, and senior Courtney Raymond recorded 27 service points to go along with eight aces and five kills. Jess Wright and Sally Hoban combined for 17 kills, 16 digs, and five aces while Liana Lamparelli played well for the Bulldogs with 11 digs, three aces, and a pair of kills.
Franklin, 3 @ North Attleboro, 0 – Final
King Philip, 3 @ Milford, 0 – Final – King Philip bounced back into the win column in a big way, earning an emphatic 3-0 (25-15, 25-6, 25-19) win on the road at Milford. Senior middle Emily Sawyer landed a team-high 17 kills along with a pair of aces and a pair of bocks, senior Ahunna James recorded 11 kills and eight digs, senior Sami Shore added five kills, and senior Olivia O’Neil had five kills and four digs. Junior Ava Kelley chipped in with eight digs for KP.
Sharon, 0 @ Mansfield, 3 – Final – After running away with the first set, Mansfield prevailed in a very competitive second set that went down to the wire and went on to finish the match in the third for a 3-0 (25-8, 26-24, 25-12) win over Sharon. Lilly Verheggen (three aces) led a balanced offense for the Hornets with eight kills while Elyssa Buchanan added seven kills, Lily Campbell added six kills, and Lexie Scibilia chipped in with five kills and seven blocks. Jackie Zelic anchored the defense with 14 digs, Ella Mahoney (six aces) and Gabrielle Moore (five aces) both had strong games serving, and Keira Fitzpatrick orchestrated the offense with 14 assists.
Attleboro, 3 @ Taunton, 0 – Final – Attleboro stayed a match ahead and atop the Kelley-Rex standings with just a week to go following a 3-0 sweep (25-17, 25-16, 25-20) win on the road at Taunton. Natalie Brojek dished out 26 assists to go along with five aces and four kills, Julia Leonardo added 17 kills, and Addie Shelton finished with five kills and two aces.
Boys Cross Country
Canton, 43 @ Medfield, 15 – Final
Girls Cross Country
Canton, 50 @ Medfield, 15 – Final
Taunton, 46 @ Oliver Ames, 14 – Final – Click here for a photo gallery of this game. 1st Quarter: (T) Dmitrius Shearrion 79-yard rush, XP no good; (T) Malachi Johnson 38-yard rush, Sete Deletoille XP good; (OA) Chad Silva 1-yard rush, C. Silva 2-point rush; (T) Bryan Batista 1-yard rush, S. Deletoille XP good.
2nd Quarter: (T) M. Johnson 30-yard rush, S. Deletoille XP good; (T) Jacob Leonard 47-yard pass to Jose Touron, XP no good; (T) B. Batista 5-yard rush, 2-point conversion no good.
3rd Quarter: No scoring.
4th Quarter: (T) B. Batista 1-yard rush, Abby Doherty XP good; (OA) Brian Silva 5-yard pass to CJ Crocker, XP no good.
North Attleboro, 4 @ Sharon, 3 – Final – North led by two goals early, allowed Sharon to score three straight to grab the lead, and then rallied with a pair of goals in the final 12 minutes to pull out the win. Clara Giuliano opened the scoring for the visitors, finishing off a pass from Angelina Bostock. Samantha Hardy doubled North’s advantage in the 18th minute off of an assist from Caroline Ferrin. Sofia Goclowski sandwiched a brace for the Eagles around a goal from Autumn Simon while Carly Pinnix had a pair of assists. After Sharon took the lead in the 70th minute, Giuliano pulled the Rocketeers level on a shot from 25 yards out in the 76th minute. Just a minute later, Hardy headed in a cross from Lily Adams for the winner.
Milford, 1 @ Attleboro, 6 – Final – Attleboro scored three goals in each half on its way to a win at home over visiting Milford. Stella Krawiec, Marley Young, and Siobhan Landers each scored a pair of goals and had an assist to pace the offense. Alyvia Bessette also had an assist for the Bombardiers.
Canton, 6 @ Sharon, 0 – Final
Franklin, 6 @ King Philip, 3 – Final – Franklin’s Haley Wernig scored a pair of second quarter goals inside a five minute span to give the Panthers some breathing room and Kaitlyn Carney’s third quarter tally added key insurance as Franklin survived a tough test from King Philip. The teams traded goals in the first quarter with Payten Crandall’s first goal of the game giving the visitors the lead. Wernig scored twice in the second to take the lead again before KP got one back, cutting the Panthers’ lead to 3-2 at half. Carney scored the lone goal of the third to make it 4-2, and Crandall’s second of the game late in the fourth pushed it to 5-2. KP pulled one back but Franklin once again responded with a goal with just over two minutes to play from Chloe Essam. Leah Santoro, Makenzie McDevitt and Lauren Barriero each had a goal for the Warriors. Devon Barry made six saves in net for Franklin while Haley Bright turned away nine shots for KP.
North Attleboro, 6 @ Taunton, 0 – Final – North Attleboro senior Julia Puccio had a hand in all six of the Rocketeers’ goals, leading the way to a big win on the road. Puccio scored three — the opening goal just under four minutes into the game (from Kelsey Thompson), the third goal of the game on a corner with 30 seconds left in the first half (from Ella Luistro), and the sixth and final, a strike with three minutes to play in the third assisted by Caroline Folan. Carrying a 1-0 lead into the second quarter, Thompson scored off of a corner, Madison Folan added one with 5:20 to go. Caitlin Vacher converted a pass from Puccio with 5:57 left in the third to make it 5-0. Gracie Leary and Eman Farid combined for the shutout for North.
Stoughton, 0 @ Oliver Ames, 7 – Final
Mansfield, 0 @ Foxboro, 5 – Final – Foxboro defended its home turf with its third straight shutout and 10th of the season in a 5-0 win over Mansfield. Mary Collins paced the offense with a hat trick while Mya Waryas and Mia Dinunzio each scored once for the Warriors.
Canton, 3 @ Sharon, 1 – Final – Sharon rallied to win the third set to keep the match alive but Canton closed out in impressive fashion to secure a 3-1 (25-16, 25-20, 21-25, 25-7) win on the road, avenging a loss to the Eagles from earlier this season. Jess Wright had a great game for the Bulldogs, recording 14 kills, 19 digs, four aces, and a block. Erin Bigham ran the offense with 33 assists and chipped in with a pair of kills while Sally Hoban added 11 kills and a pair of blocks. Haley Duhaime, Riley Costa, and Melanie McDonough provided a spark and played good defense for Canton.
Mansfield, 1 @ Foxboro, 3 – Final – In a great back-and-forth battle, Foxboro emerged with a hard-fought 3-1 (25-23, 27-29, 27-25, 25-21) win over Mansfield in a battle of evenly matched teams. Sami Sloan led the charge offensively for the Warriors with 17 kills and five aces, Juliana Petigrew added eight kills, six digs, and five aces, and Mallorie Meyer chipped in with six kills, two aces, and 13 digs. Alyssa Cloherty ran the offense with 37 assists and three aces. Lauren Rubicine had 16 digs, five aces, and four kills for the Hornets, Elyssa Buchanan added four kills, four digs, and three blocks, Keira Fitzpatrick dished out 13 assists and had 10 digs, and Lily Campbell added seven blocks, five digs, three kills, and a pair of aces.
Milford, 1 @ Attleboro, 3 – Final – After splitting the first two sets, Attleboro cruised to back-to-back wins to finish out a 3-1 (25-5, 21-25, 25-8, 25-8) win over visiting Milford. It was a strong all-around performance for the Bombardiers with Julia Leonardo (21 kills, seven aces), Addie Shelton (10 kills), Ellie Shelton (four aces, two kills), and Tigin Bombardier (four kills) playing well offensively. Natalie Brojek orchestrated the offense with 35 assists along with 10 aces while Sadie Whitmarsh notched 20 digs to anchor the defense.
North Attleboro @ Taunton, 5:15
Stoughton, 1 @ Oliver Ames, 3 – Final – Click here for a photo gallery of this match. – Stoughton tied the match at 1-1 after rallying to take the second set, but Oliver Ames closed it out with two straight set wins for a 3-1 (25-16, 24-26, 25-12, 25-22) decision. Sarah Hilliard (22 kills) and Courtney Raymond (10 kills, six aces) paced the attack while Maddie Homer (41 digs) and Megan MacDonald anchored the defense for the Tigers.
Foxboro, 91 @ Stoughton, 96 – Final (5 holes) – In a rain-shortened match, Foxboro pulled out a close win over Stoughton. Patrick Callahan and Louis Carangelo each shot 22 through the first five to lead the way for the Warriors and Mat Sullivan carded a 23. Stoughton’s Joe Rush and James Spector each shot 22 through five as well.
North Attleboro @ Dighton-Rehoboth, 3:00
Taunton, 179 @ King Philip, 154 – Final – King Philip closed out its regular season schedule with a non-league win over Taunton. Freshman Evan Regan fired a two-over par medalist round of 37 to lead the way for the Warriors. Senior Gavin Croke added a 38, Ethan Sullivan shot a 39, and Cameron Hasenfus finished with a 40.
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.