Mansfield Sweeps Sharon to Reach Hock Cup Semis

Mansfield Volleyball
Mansfield senior Kacey Veiking (23) goes up for a tip in the Hock Cup quarterfinal at Sharon. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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SHARON, Mass. – As his team met in the hallway prior to Monday night’s Hock Cup quarterfinal, first-year Mansfield coach Mark Ledwich had a sense that the players were ready to build on the momentum of four wins in the final six games of the regular season and put in a good performance.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

The Hornets did just that, sweeping Sharon 3-0 (25-10, 25-17, 25-18). Mansfield didn’t trail at any point against the Davenport division runners up, earning the impressive road win and booking a spot in the semifinal.

“Going into the game, we knew that if we could serve spots it would lead them in directions that would really help our defense,” Ledwich explained, “and all we did was practice where we needed to sit on defense to make that happen. It was a great game by all the kids to go out there and do their jobs.”

Sharon has not had much experience with a playoff atmosphere, even one with a limited crowd, and the Eagles looked a little tentative out of the gates. Mansfield jumped out to a 10-3 lead, then doubled it to go up 20-6 as the Eagles struggled with unforced errors.

“Someone used the term high-stakes game before the game and I think they were a little bit nervous about that,” said Sharon coach Andrea Lovett. “A lot of people were playing against people they play with in club a lot and their club coach, which also makes them a little nervous. They just didn’t execute the way they needed to. It was all fundamentals.”

Mansfield also looked strong at the net, setting a pattern for the game, as the front line dominated on both offense and defense. Sharon’s leading hitter Sara Fandel found it difficult to get into a rhythm against the blocking of Ashley and Nicole Santos, Kacey Veiking, and Alina Nowakowski.

Veiking had an early kill followed by back-to-back swings from Olivia McGrath, who also added a block and ace during the first set. Yvette Nau had an ace and Leah Fandel added a kill from her middle position but Ashley Santos followed with a kill to end any chance of the hosts going on a run. Nowakowski and Santos went back-to-back with kills to end the first.

“One of the things we said was that whatever happened we had to play at our energy,” said Ledwich. “Although we have restrictions for fans, our bench brings it and makes it feel like every one of our games is a home game.”

The Eagles tried to regroup between sets, but again the Hornets came out flying. Mansfield scored the first six points of the second, behind McGrath’s strong service game. Three times Sharon would battle back within one, but each time Mansfield grabbed a crucial point to make sure it stayed in front.

After Sharon cut the lead to 11-10, McGrath scored with a well-placed tip and setter Christina Lydon scored with a quick leap and spike. Sara Fandel finally got free for a blast to make it 21-14, but Nowakowski continued to find the right angle on the outside and scored with consecutive swings. Nicole Santos added a kill in the middle and the Hornets were up 2-0 with a chance to seal the match.

Sharon needed to get off to a good start in the third, but it was the Hornets that scored the first three points and got to play from in front yet again.

Lovett said, “I’ve noticed a trend for us in the last few matches that we get down a little bit and then sort of kick in and this wasn’t a team that we could kick in against.”

The Eagles kept battling. Brynne Aidlin-Pearlman had an ace and Fandel a kill, but McGrath was proving tough to stop and Santos had a big block for an 8-5 lead. Like the second set, the Eagles were able to get within a point but couldn’t get over the hump.

“They’re good blockers and I don’t think our hitters took advantage of their knowledge and ability to hit around them, over them, mix things up,” said Lovett. “I was saying in the huddle that you can’t just pound it into their hands, you’ve got to figure something out. We didn’t adapt well.”

Down 16-15, the Eagles saw a shot drop long. It would be as close as they could get. Nowakowski followed with an ace and McGrath fired one off the block for a point. Veiking knocked one off the blockers’ hands and McGrath closed out the match with another ace.

Mansfield (6-5) will now get its third shot at co-champ Franklin in the semifinal on Wednesday. Ledwich said, “We have yet to play Franklin at full strength. We are where we need to be and a full strength Mansfield looks like this and we’re ready to come back at Franklin. Third one’s the charm.”

Sharon (8-3) will host North Attleboro in the consolation round to close out one of its most successful seasons in years.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Monday’s Schedule & Scoreboard – 03/22/21

Today’s games are listed below.

Volleyball
Mansfield, 3 @ Attleboro, 0 – Final Mansfield went on the road and won in three straight for the sweep (25-12, 25-20, 25-17). The Hornets had a strong showing from the service line including 12 aces from Olivia McGrath (five kills, eight digs), five aces from Lauren Knight, three aces from Nicole Santos, and two aces from Julia Kelly (five kills, six digs).

Foxboro, 3 @ Stoughton, 1 – FinalClick here for a Recap and Photo Gallery from this game.

Oliver Ames, 3 @ Sharon, 1 – FinalAfter dropping the first set, Oliver Ames rallied to win three straight, including two sets that went past the 25-point threshold (22-25, 25-12, 29-27, 29-27). Sharon came out with a 25-22 win in the first set but the Tigers tied things up with a 25-12 win in the second set to make it 1-1. OA went on to edge Sharon in the final two sets, 29-27. Senior Tori Harney had a big game for the Tigers with 12 kills and four blocks, senior Sarah Morley added 27 digs and 26 serve receptions, junior Hadley Rhodes had 32 assists, and junior Amanda Barth chipped in eight ace and eight digs.

Franklin, 3 @ Taunton, 0 – FinalFranklin bounced back from its first loss of the season with a 3-0 (25-13, 25-14, 25-19) win on the road at Taunton. Cailyn Mackintosh dished out 26 assists in the win while Ally Bonnet-Eymard (eight kills) and Taylor Lacerda (six kills) paced the offense.

Thursday’s Schedule & Scoreboard – 03/18/21

Today’s game is listed below.

Volleyball
Taunton, 0 @ Mansfield, 3 – FinalMansfield avenged its five-set loss to the Tigers early in the sweep, getting a sweep at home 3-0. Olivia McGrath paced the Hornet attack with 12 kills and nine aces to go along with 16 digs while Kacey Veiking added six kills and a block. Nicole Santos and Alina Nowakowski (nine digs) each had five kills, Julia Kelly (15 digs) and Ashley Santos (nine digs) anchored the defense, and Isabella Flint (30 assists, three aces) had a strong all-around game.

Tuesday’s Schedule & Scoreboard – 03/16/21

Today’s games are listed below.

Volleyball
King Philip, 0 @ Franklin, 3 – FinalClick here for a recap and photo gallery of this game.

Mansfield, 2 @ Taunton, 3 – FinalMansfield rallied from a two-set deficit to force a deciding fifth game but Taunton rebounded to close it out for the 3-2 (25-21, 25-23, 18-25, 24-26, 15-8) win. Mikayla Cleary led the way for the hosts with 13 kills and a pair of blocks, Hayley Krockta added six kills and three aces, and Kyla Cook chipped in with four kills and solid serving (one ace). Anastasia Lajoie solidified the serve receive for the Tigers and had a strong day passing. For Mansfield, Isabella Flint dished out 34 assists to go along with five digs to pace the Hornets’ well-balanced offense. Alina Nowakowski (eight kills, three blocks), Olivia McGrath (eight kills), Kacey Veiking (seven kills), and Nicole Santos (seven kills, six aces, two blocks) paced the Hornet offense while Julia Kelly had a strong showing serving (11 aces) and defensively (23 digs).

Thursday’s Schedule & Scoreboard – 03/11/21

Today’s games are listed below.

Volleyball
Franklin, 3 @ Milford, 0 – FinalFranklin went on the road and earned another 3-0 (25-18, 25-10, 25-18) sweep over Milford, moving to 2-0 on the season. Ally Bonnet-Eymard paced the offense for the Panthers with 15 kills while freshman Taylor Lacerda added nine kills in the win. Junior Cailyn Mackintosh went an impressive 18-for-19 on the service line for Franklin.

King Philip, 3 @ Mansfield, 2 – FinalClick here for a Photo Gallery from this game.King Philip rallied from a 2-0 deficit, winning three straight sets to earn a 3-2 (18-25, 19-25, 25-18, 25-18, 15-6) on the road. Giovanna Fruci stepped up big for the Warriors with 14 kills, sophomore Ahunna James added 13 kills and two aces, and Nicole Coughlan had 11 kills and two aces. Lauren Peterson dished out 31 assists and Emma Brooks anchored the defense with 26 digs. For Mansfield, Olivia McGrath (two aces) and Alina Nowakowski (three blocks) each put down 13 kills while Christina Lydon finished with 34 assists. Nicole Santos added four blocks, three kills, and two aces while Julia Kelly had three aces.

North Attleboro, 0 @ Oliver Ames, 3 – FinalOliver Ames opened its home schedule in style, earning a 3-0 (25-18, 25-14, 25-18) sweep over visiting North Attleboro to improve to 2-0 on the season. Sophomore Maddie Homer shined at the service line with 27 service points and three aces, adding 10 digs defensively. Senior Caroline Flynn added 18 kills, senior Sarah Morley had 27 digs and four aces, and junior Hadley Rhodes chipped in 28 assists. For North Attleboro, Joanna Collins-Bilyeu had five kills and five digs while Ava Dunlevy added nine digs.

Monday’s Schedule & Scoreboard – 01/27/20

Today’s games are listed below.

Girls Basketball
Mansfield, 56 vs. Roxbury Charter, 24 – FinalClick here for a Photo Gallery from this game. Thirteen different players scored for the Hornets in a game that they dominated right from the start. Brooke Berube was the top scorer with 10 points and Abby Wager added eight. Nicole Santos chipped in with six points and Ashley Santos and Grace Benton each scored five points. Mansfield jumped out to a 23-0 lead after the first quarter and extended it 42-6 by halftime.

Boys Hockey
Mansfield, 3 @ Braintree, 6 – Final
Stoughton, 2 @ Apponequet, 6 – FinalDante Massaro and Al Birmingham each scored for Stoughton Brockton in the loss.

Girls Gymnastics
North Attleboro @ King Philip, 7:30
North Attleboro @ Mansfield, 7:30
King Philip @ Mansfield, 7:30 (@ O’Leary’s)