Foxboro Closes Out Stoughton For First Win

Foxboro Volleyball
Foxboro celebrates a point during the opening set of its 3-1 win at Stoughton. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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STOUGHTON, Mass. – At one point in the fourth set it looked like Foxboro was going to cruise to its first win of the season, but Stoughton turned things around, winning eight straight points. The pressure was on the Warriors to avoid having to go to a fifth set and head coach Vicki Santana called a timeout to settle down her team.

“Telling them to get pumped up and stay loud,” Santana said. “It’s hard without the fans this year, especially having just the fans for another team is even harder. Our bench has been great, they’ve been screaming their heads off and that’s really helping.”

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The pep talk and instruction worked, as Foxboro regained its composure and was able to hold off Stoughton’s charge to seal a 3-1 (25-20, 20-25, 25-12, 25-21) road victory.

Despite the defeat, first-year coach Felecia Baptista was proud of her team’s fight in the fourth set, battling back from 21-7 down to get as close as three points.

“I feel like we were communicating really well,” she explained. “We just have to stay upbeat. They like to be the underdogs a little too much and we need to start showing what we can do right from the beginning.”

In the first set, it was Foxboro that had to battle back. Stoughton started well and, after kills by Camille Firmin and Shanice Landrum and an ace from Rhuan Oliveira, the Black Knights held a 13-10 lead. The Warriors won seven of the next eight points, including kills by Emma Keefe and Mallorie Meyer, to grab the lead.

Stoughton answered with a block by freshman Annilia Eschleman to get within one, 18-17, but then Keefe had a big swing and back-to-back aces to put Foxboro up by four. A kill for Jessie Queeney and an ace by Patrik Oliveira kept Stoughton close, but Meghan Murphy found a seam in the Black Knights defense and Shannon McDonald capped the set with a kill and a block.

The second set was back-and-forth with neither team able to build more than a three-point advantage. After a net violation put Foxboro up 20-17, Stoughton was finally able to make a run. Rhuan Oliveira served out the set, winning eight straight points, including four aces and kills from Queeney and Eschleman.

“We’re so good, we just have to show it more on the court,” said Baptista. “They like to be challenged and they get a little too quiet when things aren’t going their way. We’ve just got to stay strong. When we were out of rotation a couple of times, I just immediately called timeout because they can get in their heads so bad when that happens.”

Momentum didn’t carry over into the third for the hosts. Foxboro snagged control of the set early on, taking advantage of a couple rotation errors by the Black Knights. Setter Sarah Regan dropped a shot in between a pair of Black Knights and then fired an ace, as Foxboro built an 11-3 lead.

Stoughton managed to fight back and cut the lead to five but that was as close as it would get in the third. Murphy was stellar on the outside for the Warriors with five kills in the set and McDonald restored Foxboro’s lead in the match with a kill to seal it.

Foxboro has had some battles this season, including a hard-fought four-set match with unbeaten Oliver Ames last week and a five-set match with Sharon in the opening week. At the start of the fourth set, it looked like the Warriors were trying to avoid any drama and put the first win on the board.

Foxboro’s team defense was superb at times. Regan, Pam Nelson, Grace Fortune, and libero Kelsey Treweek consistently kept plays alive, giving the front line more chances to swing and also putting a lot of pressure on Stoughton.

“They don’t give up,” Santana said about her defense. “They’re always ready and they always make that last-minute save you don’t think anyone’s going to get. They run into the bleachers, they run into the net, wherever they can and that’s definitely what keeps us in games. They’re a really strong group.”

Keefe was also having a solid night at the service line. She rattled off seven straight points, including three straight on aces, and the Warriors led 17-6. A McDonald block and rotation error had Stoughton behind 21-7 and seemingly ready to look ahead to Wednesday’s rematch.

Instead, the Black Knights turned the set around. It started with a kill by Iago Bonfirm off the top of the net. Rhuan Oliveira followed with back-to-back aces and Landrum rose up for a big kill. After four straight aces by Oliveira, Santana was forced into a timeout with the lead down to 21-15.

Santana explained, “With some of the stronger servers that they have, the topspin serve is coming with a lot of power and you can’t be moving when that’s happening and you can’t be swinging your arms. I just told them to get their arms under it and it will go up to the target.”

Foxboro recovered and got back to its strong serve-receive game. The teams traded points and, after another rally, Meyer clinched the win with quick thinking at the net and an accurate hit.

“It feels really good,” said Santana. “It’s tough coming off last year where we had one of the first winning seasons in a while and then to start this season down and we know we don’t have that many games, so finally getting it together today and hopefully we can carry that into Wednesday.”

Foxboro (1-4) and Stoughton (0-4) will meet again on Wednesday at Foxboro.

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Volleyball: Fall 2 Hockomock League Preview

Canton volleyball 2020 (Fall 2) Hockomock Volleyball Preview
Canton players celebrate the final point that earned the Bulldogs a 3-1 win over Westboro and the D2 Central title in 2019. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

By HockomockSports.com Staff

2020 (Fall 2) Hockomock Volleyball Preview

Attleboro

2019 Record: 1-17
2019 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Mary Katherine Runey

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.”

Canton

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!”

Foxboro

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

2019 Record: 15-4 (Kelley-Rex Division Champions)
2019 Finish: Reached D1 Central/West Quarterfinals
Coach: Sam Elliott

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.”




King Philip

2019 Record: 18-5 (Kelley-Rex Division Champions)
2019 Finish: Reached D1 Central/East Finals
Coach: Kristen Geuss

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.”

Mansfield

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.”

Milford

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.

North Attleboro

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.”




Oliver Ames

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.”

Sharon

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.”

Stoughton

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.”

Taunton

2019 Record: 3-17
2019 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Toby Chaperon

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.”