Bulldogs Drop Five-Set Heartbreaker in Central Final

Canton volleyball
Nicole Brown (3) and Erin Devine (17) go up for the block in the second set of the D2 Central final against Groton-Dunstable. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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WELLESLEY, Mass. – Momentum is a key to any high school volleyball match. Teams build up confidence and go on scoring runs, which is amplified when that run closes out a critical fourth set and keeps a season alive.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Groton-Dunstable went on that type of run in the Div. 2 Central final on Saturday afternoon at Wellesley High, winning nine of the last 11 points to pull out the fourth set 25-19 and force a decisive final set. The momentum from that run to keep the season alive, helped the Crusaders take control of the fifth and deny Canton its first sectional title since 2012.

The Crusaders won the fifth set 15-7, including eight of the last nine points, to beat the Bulldogs 3-2 (20-25, 25-14, 16-25, 25-19, 15-7) and claim the Central title.

“It’s a game of momentum, but unfortunately in the end they had the momentum,” said Canton coach Pat Cawley. “They did carry it over [from the fourth set] and we didn’t have an answer for it. We played a little tight on serve-receive…we didn’t get our offense going at all.”

Canton got off to a strong start to the match in a back-and-forth opening set. Despite dealing with the strong hitting and blocking abilities of Crusaders star Lily Blodgett, the Bulldogs were able to get into a groove with Taylor Harris and Theresa O’Brien on the outside. The five-point edge that Canton ended the set with was the largest lead for either team in the first.

Groton-Dunstable answered right back with a dominant second set. Blodgett was in total control and had the Bulldogs out of sorts at the start, particularly middle hitter Erin Devine, who had a couple of hits blocked in the first and had to be creative to get good looks.

“She (Blodgett) blocked her a lot, but I was proud of Erin because she scored a lot of points in different ways,” Cawley said.

Devine and the Bulldogs bounced right back in the third and had their strongest set of the match. Devine got things started with a kill and then Harris added two on the outside, as Canton jumped in front 10-2. After the Crusaders cut the lead to five points, Harris again found a hole in the G-D defense for a big points and a 12-6 lead.

Everything seemed to be working for the Bulldogs in the third. Olivia Chinsen and libero Megan McDonough each had an ace, Rose Hazam came off the bench and was able to scramble a ball over the net that dropped in for a point, Bailey Shea had a kill in the middle, and Liz Bickett snagged a point for Canton as well.

The fourth set was also back-and-forth, as the two teams were within no more than three points of each other until the final stretch. Groton-Dunstable built an early 6-3 lead, but Canton answered right back with kills from Shea and Harris. Harris also earned a point with a block and setter Nicole Brown (who Cawley called the “glue of the team”) stepped up to the net for a block that made it 11-10.

With the score tied at 16-16, the Bulldogs won the type of point that had its fans thinking the trophy was heading to Canton. After a long rally between the teams, Harris managed to dig a tough hit, Brown hustled to keep the play alive and then McDonough not only bumped the ball back across the net from outside the court but also saw it drop in for the point and the lead.

G-D looked unfazed, winning the next three points to regain the advantage and force a Canton timeout. The set was closed out on back-to-back aces by Crusaders libero Peter White, who was a defensive stalwart for the Groton-Dunstable back line.

“Obviously, they didn’t let the ball fall on their side, so they could run their offense,” Cawley explained. “Their defense was better than just about any we faced this season.”

The fifth and deciding set started out even, with the teams trading the first six points. After a pair of Crusaders kills, Harris stepped up and found space down the line to make it 5-4. Carolyn Mullins, who stepped up in the middle when Blodgett was on the bench, had a kill and a block to extend the lead.

A kill from Shea and a mishit got Canton back within one and gave the Bulldogs hope that they could turn things around, but three straight points, including a pair of aces from White, put the Crusaders in the driver’s seat.

“We hung in their in the first half of the fifth set and then we had some trouble with serve-receive and we just couldn’t get out of it,” said Cawley.

Canton’s struggles with serve-receive continued down the stretch as the Crusaders won two more service points before Blodgett put an exclamation point on her night with one final kill to seal the championship.

“I couldn’t be prouder of my team tonight,” Cawley said. “None of them had played in the tournament before. This was the first time for every single one of them. Their growth from last year to this year has been amazing.”

For Canton (19-3), this was an impressive bounce back year. The Bulldogs regained their spot atop the Davenport division and reached the sectional final through a complete team effort.

Cawley said, “It was big growth in their confidence level as well as their skill level. They put all out there and it just didn’t go our way.”

She added, “I carried 18 kids on my team and I can honestly say for the first time ever all 18 of them I could put in there and feel confident. Every day someone new stepped up.”

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Canton Rallies Past Medway To Advance To Central Final

Canton volleyball
Canton’s Bailey Shea (21) and Erin Devine go up for a block against Medway in the first game. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
MEDWAY, Mass. – Throughout the 2018 season, Canton senior Erin Devine and junior Taylor Harris have taken turns as the Bulldogs go-to option on offense.

In fact, in 18 of the 20 matches played prior to Wednesday night’s D2 Central semifinal matchup with #5 Medway, either Devine or Harris led Canton in kills.

But this time around, both players had it going offensively for the top-seeded Bulldogs, each recording double-digit kills to pace Canton to a 3-1 (21-25, 25-23, 25-19, 25-9) win over the Mustangs.

“Both Erin and Taylor had super games,” said Canton head coach Pat Cawley. “We really haven’t had a day like that this year, it’s usually either Erin or Taylor. But tonight they both were on.”

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Devine had a team-high 16 kills (with just two hitting errors) and added seven blocks while Harris added 15 kills, 12 digs, and four blocks. It’s just the second time this season that both players reached double-digit kills in the same match.

Even though Canton was the top-seed, the match took place at Medway High, which was a predetermined site by the MIAA. However, it wasn’t selected as the location until the semifinalists were set.

“They worked really hard on not letting the crowd get in their head,” Cawley said. “You have to beat the best to be the best, we’re going to be on the road from now on anyways. Granted we won’t be in someone else’s home gym, but we’ll still be on the road. And if you want to win it all, you have to be good on the road.” g

While both players had strong games offensively, the key to the game came down to matchups. After the Mustangs took the first set, Cawley did her best to figure out how to get Devine matched up with Medway star Maegan Hladick, who had eight kills in the first game alone.

Canton actually had a strong start to the first game, jumping out to a 6-2 lead but Medway worked its way back into the match and rattled off a 10-3 run to take a 12-9 lead. The Bulldogs responded with some strong play, including a couple of nice serves from Megan McDonough (12 digs), and took a 20-16 lead.

But after a Medway timeout, the Mustangs won five of the next six points to tie the first set 21-21. Despite a timeout from Canton, Medway won the next four points, including a pair of kills from Hladick, to secure a 25-21 victory to go up 1-0.

Cawley elected to try and get Devine and senior Bailey Shea on the opposite side of the net to try and get a block on Hladick.

“We didn’t change after the first game but we matched up better because they changed their rotation,” Cawley said. “When they started with the serve, they changed it and it was a better matchup for us. Going into the third, I had a feeling he was going to switch his rotation so I moved mine and luckily we matched up. We were lucky with the rotation, it’s a lot of guess work.

“We were trying to get Erin and Bailey, our two best blockers, to line up with [Hladick]. Because she plays the outside, she’s not blocking Erin so I wasn’t really too concerned who was blocking Erin, I just wanted to block [Hladick].”

The matchup change worked well for the Bulldogs, as Hladick finished with just four kills in the second set. While Canton led for the majority of the match — going up 12-6 after a big kill from Devine, and 16-10 off the hand of Devine again — Medway continued to battle back.

The Mustangs got within three 18-15, and then notched four straight points to go up 19-18 to force another Bulldog timeout. Canton came out with renewed energy, but the Bulldogs trailed 22-21. Devine landed a kill to tie it, a strong serve from Julia Minichiello resulted in a 23-22 lead, and Devine landed a big block on Hladick for a 24-22 lead. Medway got within one but saw its final hit go into the net with Devine and Shea ready for the block.

The third set was close throughout, with nine ties in the first 26 points, the last coming at 13-13. But Devine landed a kill and blocked an attack, and Harris landed back-to-back kills for a 17-13 lead. Canton kept the lead the rest of the way, but Medway did get close at 19-18, but before the Mustangs could tie it, Cawley called a timeout.

“I just reminded them that we have the lead and we have to play like we have the lead,” Cawley said. “We have to play aggressive and strong, and to their credit they did it. It was such a back and forth match. We battled so hard last year, we had a rough year but they stuck together and they deserved this. They gained a lot of confidence by sticking together. We’re really a team.”

Coming out of the timeout, Canton won six of the final seven points, getting a kill and an ace from Harris in the span to win 25-19 and take a 2-1 lead in the match.

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Harris finished with eight kills, a block, and an ace in the third game.

“We need that second option if we’re going to win,” Cawley said. “Taylor hits the ball the hardest, she’s just trying to find her groove and keep it in play while still being aggressive. She’s working really hard on it, and she’s also a really good defensive player. She plays all six spots for her, she’s upped her game for us. She played well against Holliston too so I think she plays well under pressure.”

The momentum from the win in the third set carried over into the fourth set. Devine landed a kill and had a block, Shea, Rose Hazam, and Nicole Brown (28 assists, 11 digs, six kills) all had a kill, and Harris added two kills as Canton raced out to a 12-2 lead.

The strong beginning was all Canton needed as the Bulldogs went on to win the fourth set 25-9 to secure a 3-1 victory.

Canton volleyball (19-2) advances to the D2 Central Final and will play the winner of #2 Groton-Dunstable (18-2) and Westboro (17-3) on Saturday at Wellesley with a time to be determined. It marks the fifth time in the last seven years that Canton has reached the sectional final.

Canton Prevails In Five Set Thriller Against Stoughton

Canton volleyball
Canton’s Erin Devine goes up for an attack in the fourth set against Stoughton. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
STOUGHTON, Mass. – After losing a lead late in the fourth set to rival Stoughton, the Canton volleyball team found themselves in a place they hadn’t been all year: a fifth set.

And despite the Black Knights having the momentum and home court advantage, Bulldogs head coach Pat Cawley was confident her squad would be up to the challenge.

“Pressure is a privilege,” Cawley said. “It’s a privilege to be here and play and it’s a privilege to play under pressure. If you’re going to be a good team, you have to be able to play in the fifth set. That’s the first time we’ve gone five all year. If we want to make a run in the tournament, we have to learn how to play under pressure so they did a great job.”

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Senior middle Erin Devine (12 kills, eight blocks) set the tone early in the fifth set with a pair of blocks that gave Canton a 5-1 lead. It was an advantage that the Bulldogs didn’t relinquish the rest of the way, earning a win in the fifth set and a 3-2 victory (25-16, 20-25, 25-15, 24-26, 15-9) over the Black Knights.

“It was very exciting, we knew it was going to be like that because Stoughton is a great team, we’re pretty even,” Cawley said. “We have a rough time playing in this gym, it’s a terrible volleyball gym because the ceiling is low but its great home court advantage because they are used to playing here. But Stoughton is an aggressive team, they have good servers, they hit the ball.”

Stoughton fought back on a pair of occasions to make the fifth set tight. After going down 5-1, back-to-back kills from Sasha Hyacinthe (eight kills) and Alexa Quinones helped get within a point. But a couple of kills from Taylor Harris (15 kills, 20 digs) kept the Bulldogs in front, forcing a timeout.

Stoughton’s Hanna Holden (18 assists, 10 kills) had a kill and Amaya Morris landed a kill to give the Black Knights some momentum down 12-9, but Canton setter Nicole Brown (33 assists, 21 digs, five kills, three aces) picked the perfect time to dump the ball over on the second touch, catching the Black Knights’ defense.

“She’s the floor general out there, we wouldn’t be anywhere without her,” Cawley said of Brown. “Erin’s a great player but Nicole has to put the ball where she wants it, she’s just one of the best athletes I’ve ever coached. I’ve been here 18 years and she’s one of the best athletes I’ve seen, she’s the real deal. She’s the glue that holds us together.”

Devine registered a kill with a hard hit off a block out of bounds and Theresa O’Brien won a battle at the net for the game point.

“I’m really proud of this team,” Cawley said. “We had a tough time year last season, and most all of them were here last year apart of that. We gritted it out, they played hard and they made a lot of advancements. So I know who I have, I know they can do it. I believe in them, I believe in them more than they do themselves. I’m trying to convince them they can do it, I think this will help them do that.”

Before Canton earned the win in five, the Bulldogs were on the edge of a 3-1 win. Holding a 19-14 lead after a net infraction, it looked like Canton was positioned to close out the match. But three straight points from Stoughton, punctuated by a kill from Molly Turner (23 digs, 15 assists, 11 service points, eight kills, three aces) gave Stoughton life.

Canton went up by four again, 21-17, but Stoughton refused to go away. A net call, a kill from Hyacinthe, and a Canton hitting error (after a couple of nice defensive plays from the Knights) tied the game 23-23.

Stoughton went up 24-23, but Canton tied it back up on a hitting error. The Knights didn’t flinch as Delaney Nagel hammered down a kill and Veronica Noe gave the hosts a win in the fourth set with an ace.

“The last time we played them, it definitely wasn’t our best game, and we lost 3-0 at their court, so to come back and go to five sets with them is incredible, I’m really proud of my girls for doing that,” said Stoughton head coach Erica Batchelder.

“I just told them to play like they can. We’ve grown so much throughout this season. When we started out, we weren’t really playing together but now we play as a team. The way that they lift each other up, and be able to make that run at the end…they don’t like to lose on their home court. Unfortunately, in the end, they did today but it was a hard fought game, and they never gave up.”

Canton built a 12-6 in the first set, Stoughton rallied to make it a four-point game at 16-12, but the Bulldogs were able to finish it off. Julia Minichiello had a pair of aces and Harris added two more kills, including a nice line shot, to clinch the first set.

Stoughton responded with a win in the second set. It was tight throughout, with neither side holding more than a four-point advantage in the early stages. The Knights took a 17-14 lead only for Canton to storm back to get within one, down 20-19.

The Black Knights finished it off by winning five of the next six points, including consecutive kills from Turner and Nagel, an ace from Turner, and a kill from Hyacinthe to make it 1-1.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

The third set went similar to the second, with the teams trading points in the early stages. Canton had its first real advantage at 11-8 and then extended that advantage to 17-10 with four of those points coming off kills or blocks from Devine. Devine had just two total errors on 36 attack attempts.

“Erin’s been our go-to person this season, she makes very few errors,” Cawley said. “I tell my setter if she’s on and not making errors, go to her. I don’t care if she gets every ball, if she’s putting it down, go to her. And her block is aggressive. At 6’3, it’s tough to get around. Even if she’s not touching the ball, she affects the other hitters.”

An ace from freshman Sydney Gallery and a kill from sophomore Liz Bickett (seven kills, two blocks) helped Canton earn a 25-15 win in the third set.

With the win, Canton volleyball (12-1 overall, 12-1 Hock) moves within one win of clinching at least a share of the Davenport division title. The Bulldogs host Sharon on Wednesday. Stoughton (10-4, 10-3) will try to bounce back on the same day when it travels to Foxboro.

Volleyball: 2018 Hockomock League Preview

2018 Hockomock Volleyball Preview

By HockomockSports.com Staff

2018 Hockomock Volleyball Preview

Attleboro

2017 Record: 4-16
2017 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Courtney Durocher

A year after joining the Bombardiers as an assistant coach, Courtney Durocher takes over an Attleboro program hungry to make a splash in the Hockomock League. Attleboro lost four-year player and all-league selection Lexi Pereira to graduation but Durocher has a strong group of players to work with in her first year. Amanda Kadisevskis will be a vital part on both offense and defense, having led the Hock in blocks last season. Kadisevskis is a tri-captain along with senior Chelsea Calcagni and Faith Hindy (right side). Ana Leonardo had a strong year last year and will be relied upon to set the offense in motion while juniors Jessica Matheson (defensive specialist) and Emily McGovern (outside hitter) will be called upon to step up this season for the Bombardiers.

“I am excited for this season as I am now the head coach,” Durocher said. “I believe the team will have a good season and work well together.”

Canton

2017 Record: 7-12
2017 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Pat Cawley

Canton’s decade-long run as league champion came to a close last season but head coach Pat Cawley is hoping the lessons learned last year will pay off in 2018. The Bulldogs only had a couple of players with varsity experience last year so a lot of new faces were able to gain experience throughout the year. Senior captain Nicole Brown is back for her second year as the team’s setter. Her athleticism and speed allow her to get around the court to get in position to make plays. Middle Erin Devine will be one of Brown’s main targets along with outside hitting Taylor Harris. Devine has impressed through the preseason and Harris brings an aggressive edge to the Dogs’ attack. Senior libero Meghan McDonough is one of the players Cawley expects to take the next step this season after getting a year of experience under her belt last season. Setter/opposite Olivia Chinsen and outside hitter Angie Elias are also in the mix for Canton this year.

“Canton volleyball is looking to turn it around this season,” Cawley said. “We have 10 seniors, many of whom saw a lot of playing time last year. We are hoping this experience leads to more aggressive and confident play.”

Foxboro

2017 Record: 1-17
2017 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Dan Damish

The 2018 version of the Foxboro Warriors will rely heavily on its four captains while a handful of new faces get acclimated to the varsity level. Senior captain Paulette Palomares will set the tone defensively as the libero and will be joined by fellow captains Brynn Gilbert and Shaelyn McCarthy as defensive specialists. Grace Boudreau, a junior captain, will be a main piece of the offense from her outside hitter spot. Boudreau will be joined on the outside by Calvi Goodard while first-year players Ashelyn Moniz and Meg McDonald will be in the middle. First-year player Madison O’Brien will take over as the team’s setter.

“This year’s team will have to play great defense, serve well, serve receive well and play great team volleyball in order to have a successful season,” said Foxboro head coach Dan Damish.

Franklin

2017 Record: 15-5
2017 Finish: Reached D1 Central/West Quarterfinal
Coach: Kelsey Weymouth

Former North Attleboro standout Kelsey Weymouth takes over as head coach of the Franklin Panthers and she has a lot of talent to work with right away.

The Panthers have Lauren McGrath, Ellie Wiesniewski, Riley Marino, Maggie Doyle, and Hailey Sanders back, all of whom either starter or played in plenty of sets last season. McGrath is in her third year as the starting setting and is a vocal leader for the team while Marino is a standout defensive specialist as the libero. Doyle is a tall presence in the middle that will be a big part of the defense as well as Sanders, who plays on the right side. Wisniewski and sophomore Allyson Bonnet-Eymard will be the main focuses on the outside for the Panthers.

“I am extremely excited to be apart of this Franklin program and coach these girls into being successful volleyball players,” Weymouth said. “I am going to do everything in my power to continue the previous success of this program. My girls have been extremely welcoming and that’s a good feeling coming in a new head coach.”

King Philip

2017 Record: 20-3 (Kelley-Rex Division Champions)
2017 Finish: Reached D1 Central/East Final
Coach: Kristen Geuss

King Philip claimed its second straight Kelley-Rex title last season and fourth in the past five years. Now the focus turns to 2018 and the Warriors will be looking to compete for yet another division crown. Gone is two-time Hockomock MVP Sydney Phillips and four other starters but the Warriors bring back a solid core of players that will try to make their own mark this season. It starts with senior captains Livvie Atkins and Kat Kmetz, two of the more experienced players on the squad. Atkins is one of the top defensive players on the team and Kmetz will step into an outside hitter spot. Head coach Kristen Guess is relying on seniors Shayla Weitzman (defensive specialist), Caroline Robertson (opposite), Jessie Kornfeld (defensive specialist) and Kristen Masse (defensive specialist) to step up this season. Junior Kiley Sullivan steps in as an option at setter while classmates Grace Ely and Catherine Waldeck will handle the middle blocker spots. Guess also expects sophomores Emma Brooks (Setting), Nicole Coughlin (middle), and Lillian Carlow (defensive specialist) to see substantial time this year.

“Our strength will be our ability to distribute the ball to all of our hitters,” Guess said. “We are working hard each practice and I see us improving every day.”

Mansfield

2017 Record: 8-11
2017 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Melissa Heeden

There will be a lot of new faces in Mansfield’s lineup this season after losing seven seniors to graduation. The Hornets graduated their leader in kills and blocks (Meg Hill), assists (Emma Ascoli), and top two players in digs (Julia Harrison and Jolie O’Neil) so there is plenty of space for new players to step up and make a name for themselves. One key piece returning to the lineup is middle Greenly Kelly, who was among the best in the league at blocking. Her net defense will be key for a Hornet squad putting an emphasis on defense. Senior captain Katie Dardinski is a defensive specialist and will be another key piece on the back line. Sophomore Alina Nowakowski will take over as the other middle while sophomore Olivia McGrath will step into an outside hitter role.

“We will be a very different team this year in which I am hoping to be a little more defensive minded,” said Mansfield head coach Melissa Heeden. “While we are young and have a lot of work to do, they are ready for the challenge.”

Milford

2017 Record: 7-13
2017 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Tammy Webber

The Hawks will need some new players to step up in 2018 after graduating the core of its team from last season, including eight seniors. Head coach Tammy Webber believes that her team is only going to get better the more they play. Seniors Briana Maiette, Sydney Sutton, and Nina Pinto will be relied upon for their leadership this season while Webber is looking for contributions out of juniors Julia Riordan and Alyssa Williamson. Middles Allison Corsini and Lauren Corsini could give the Hawks a boost at the net while sophomore Elise Fauerbach figures to get some time on the court right away. Senior defensive specialist and Ana Alvarenga and juniors Abbey Reichert and April Swain are also in the mix for playing time this season.

“Right now we are just working on consistency and confidence in our play,” Webber said. “We are working on finding the best combinations of players to be competitive and win games.”

North Attleboro

2017 Record: 18-3 (Davenport Division Champions)
2017 Finish: Reached D1 South Quarterfinal
Coach: Kim Hallahan

Not many teams lost as much talent as the Rocketeers, who boasted a very senior-heavy roster last season that won its first-ever Davenport title. And on top of that, Kim Hallahan takes over as head coach after Jeff Crins stepped down after a lengthy run as the leader of the Rocketeers. Seniors Emma Gunn and Tatiana Sotelo are the two returning players this season and will be joined by 11 juniors. Sotelo will be counted on to be a main piece in Big Red’s offense while Hayley Gaskin and Joanna Collins-Bilyeu give North Attleboro options at the setter position. Hallahan said there are a lot of solid defensive players on the team but need to figure out which spots work best.

“We do have a young team, but after we get the season started, and some of the nerves out, I don’t think that it will affect us too much,” CHllahan said. “We have many hardworking, talented, versatile girls.”

Oliver Ames

2017 Record: 11-10
2017 Finish: Reached D1 South First Round
Coach: Chelsea Cunningham

While Oliver Ames is in a good spot with its defense and setter, the Tigers are in need of players to step up on the offensive end after the graduation of six talented seniors. Senior captain Sadie Homer is a four-year varsity player and returns as the team’s libero. She’s been a defensive specialist for the Tigers for all four years and will be one of the most seasoned and skilled players in the back row in the Hock this season. Junior setter Allie Kemp is also back and is the reigning HockomockSports.com Underclassman of the Year after helping the Tigers win 11 of their final 14 games to qualify for the state tournament. One option OA has at the net will be junior Jordan Bosse. After serving as a defensive specialist last season, Bosse will be an offensive option at outside hitter this season.

“I see lots of potential with this group,” said OA head coach Chelsea Cunningham. “We have big shoes to fill after losing six seniors, all of offensive positions. We have a roster full of athleticism and commitment and I hope the girls come ready to play every day and grow as a team. If they play to their potential, this could be a great season for the OA Volleyball program.”

Sharon

2017 Record: 6-12
2017 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Andrea Lovett

After improving its win total each of the last two seasons, the Sharon volleyball program will be relying on its eight seniors to continue that upward trend. The Eagles’ offense will run mostly through its two captains with Abby Fine acting as the engine for the attack. From her setter position, the offense will flow through her while one of her main targets will be fellow captain Jody Goldenberg. Goldenberg will also be key on the defensive side as a middle blocker. Ally Brown will also see time at setter and will have senior Jade Veth and sophomore Brynne Aidlin-Perlman to work with on the outside.

“Sharon’s program is building from the ground up,” said head coach Andrea Lovett. “As more and more talented younger players come up through the ranks, we are looking forward to seeing many more wins this season. The Eagles are a tough, tenacious group of players who I believe are going to surprise some teams this season.”

Stoughton

2017 Record: 16-5
2017 Finish: Reached D2 South First Round
Coach: Erica Batchelder

Last year was certainly a season to remember for the Black Knights and a big reason why was the two-way play of seniors Val Whalen and Jordan Motley. Both Whalen and Motley played significant roles on offense and defense for the Knights, who set a program record for wins in a season. While those two weapons are gone, the Black Knights bring two other important pieces from their offense from last year. Setters Molly Turner (278) and Hanna Holden (179) are both back and will the engines of the team. Juniors Sasha Hyacinthe and Alexa Quinones have worked hard in the summer and will be two offensive options for Stoughton. Another key returner for Stoughton is senior Mia Bennett, who is back for her third year as the team’s libero.

“We may have a lot of new faces but we are taking the same approach to the game: become better players, coaches, and people every day and the wins will come,” said Stoughton head coach Erica Batchelder. “We have so much untapped potential in this team that is going to surprise the rest of the league. We will always try our hardest and have fun while doing it.”

Taunton

2017 Record: 4-16
2017 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Toby Chaperon

After missing out on the state tournament the past two seasons, the Tigers are looking to get back into playoff contention on the backs of nine seniors. Everything will run through three-year starter Kayli Fagan, who is inching closer and closer to 1,000 assists as the team’s primary setter. Another key returner is senior Mckenzie Lucie, who will continue to handle libero duties and stabilize the back line. Middle Kamila Cuevas has taken a big step forward while Sam Silveira is back as an option on the outside. Other seniors that head coach Toby Chaperon is expecting to contribute include Sam Martin (opposite), Aliyah Gillenwater (outside), Michaela Felici (outside), Jaime Brown (defensive specialist), and Elaine Bodemer (defensive specialist).

“We will be integrating many new players and are hoping that gelling process will happen quickly as there are no let-ups in our schedule as we get started right away with a strong New Bedford team,” Chaperon said.

Volleyball: 2017 Hockomock League Preview

2017 Hockomock Volleyball Preview

By HockomockSports.com Staff

2017 Hockomock Volleyball Preview

Attleboro

2016 Record: 2-17
2016 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Richard Seibert

First year head coach Dick Seibert is hoping a mix of strong returning players and new faces will help Attleboro turn things around this season. One reason for hope is four-year varsity player Lexi Pereira, who was selected to the HockomockSports.com Second Team a year ago. Pereira provides the Bombardiers with a potent attack at the net as well as a strong defensive presence. Seniors Sarah Lynch (third year on varsity) and Rachel Perreault (libero) are also key members for Big Blue this season. Tabby Guinan, Olivia Protano, Mackenzie Christiansen and junior middle Amanda Kadisevskis all return this season with varsity experience. Protano and junior Faith Hindy will handle the setting duties this season.

“As a first year varsity coach at Attleboro, my goal is obvious: win some matches,” Seibert said. “Attleboro hopes to climb out of the cellar of the Hockomock League this year.”

Canton

2016 Record: 18-4 (Davenport Division Champions)
2016 Finish: Reached D2 Central Final
Coach: Pat Cawley

It’s been a decade of dominance for the Bulldogs, winning a league title every year for the past 10 seasons. But that reign will be tested this season as the Bulldogs will boast a group that is mostly without varsity experience. Canton graduated 13 seniors from last year’s squad that reached the D2 Central Final. Senior Hannah Jerrier is one player back with some experience after playing middle a season ago. Jerrier will be joined by junior Erin Devine as the team’s middles while junior Nicole Brown, who saw little time a year ago, will take over as the team’s starting setting. While outside and right side hitting spots are up for grabs, Canton will look to senior Sofia Connor and juniors Megan McDonough and Julia Minichiello to anchor a defense that has been the calling card of the team the past couple of seasons.

“Many positions remain open at this point but all my players are working hard and looking better every day,” said head coach Pat Cawley. “We will be a team that will need to rely on and trust each other in order to succeed. I expect to improve with each match and be a team to be reckoned with down the line!”

Foxboro

2016 Record: 1-17
2016 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Dan Damish

Foxboro will lean heavily on its nine seniors, including captains Meagan Savage and Mary Booth, as well as a couple of younger players, as it tries to bounce back from last year. Dan Damish returns his leading blocker from last season in senior middle Delya Lorquet. Lorquet will be joined by sophomores Grace Boudreau and Calvi Goddard at the net. Senior Mandy Ryan and junior Shaelyn McCarthy will take over setting duties this season while Carly Madden and Maddie Elliott will be competing for attacking spots in the front row. Paulette Palomares will man the libero position with Gwen Calnan, Billie Prescott, Brynn Gilbert and Hannah St. Germain helping to solidify the back row.

“The team looks to play great defense, serve well, limit unforced errors, and communicate well on the court,” Damish said.

Franklin

2016 Record: 13-7
2016 Finish: Reached D1 Central/West Quarterfinal
Coach: Kate Horsmann

After losing just four seniors to graduation, the Franklin Panthers return an experienced and deep team ready to make a run at the Kelley-Rex division title. The Panthers bring back both of their middle hitters to anchor the attack and net defense. Senior Meaghan Maguire (42 blocks) is back for her third year while junior Maggie Doyle (57 kills) returns after a strong sophomore campaign. Franklin also brings back junior setter Lauren McGrath, who was selected as HockomockSports.com Underclassman of the Year last season. Ellie Wisniewski (63 kills) will be one of the team’s top offensive threats at outside hitter.

“We are deep and have experience on offense this season,” said FHS coach Kate Horsmann. “Our floor leader and top defensive player graduated, so finding a floor leader and shoring up our defense will be a big factor in how our season plays out.”

King Philip

2016 Record: 19-3 (Kelley-Rex Division Champions)
2016 Finish: Reached D1 Central/East Semifinal
Coach: Kristen Geuss

A year after winning the program’s third Kelley-Rex title, the Warriors look to be poised to earn back-to-back titles based on the returning talent they have. Leading the way is 2016 HockomockSports.com Player of the Year and Hockomock League MVP Sydney Phillips, who had a tremendous season at outside hitter last year. She’ll be joined by senior Michaela Palumbo (outside hitter), Julianne Rando (defensive specialist) and Elise Pereira (libero). Junior Kat Kmetz is back as one of the team’s middle hitters after having a strong sophomore season, sophomore Grace Ely will step in as the other middle and senior Rachel Veilleux will take over as the setter.

“We are working hard for another successful season,” said KP head coach Kristen Geuss. “I am encouraged by the progress we have made on both offense and defense. We’ve had several scrimmages and I am happy with how our players have performed. We have a motivated team and are all looking forward to a strong start to the season.”

Mansfield

2016 Record: 15-6
2016 Finish: Reached D1 South Semifinal
Coach: Melissa Heeden

With two of the top net players back this season, Mansfield looks to be a true threat in a very deep Kelley-Rex division. Meg Hill, now in her fourth year on varsity, was fifth overall in kills a season ago and is one of the top net defensive players. Hill will be aided by Julia Harrison (104 kills) on the attack, now in her third year as an outside hitter for the Hornets. Junior Greenly Kelly will step into the other middle spot while senior Lexi Gardner will see time at outside hitter. Senior Emma Ascoli and sophomore Olivia Fernando will both see time setting for Mansfield.

“We have a lot of potential and have a great mix of senior leadership and experience as well as some young players who are going to add a lot to the team,” said MHS head coach Melissa Heeden. We have a lot to work on in the first few weeks, but I am very eager to see how this team come together.”

Milford

2016 Record: 15-6
2016 Finish: Reached D2 Central Semifinal
Coach: Dan Seaver

First year head coach Dan Seaver has a strong mix of returning experienced players and new faces and is excited for what the 2017 Scarlet Hawks can accomplish. Milford returns four players with significant playing time, including the team’s libero Kyra Alves. At the net, Kelley Reichert (outside), Gill Valanzola (outside/middle) and Juliana Tracy (middle) give the Hawks a strong net presence, both offensively and defensively. Elena Nosiglia (opposite) and Kate Lobisser (middle/opposite) are also back and could see increased roles in 2017. Junior Sydney Sutton will join Alves as a defensive specialist to solidify the back line.

“I believe that we have all of the pieces to the puzzle, but it is going to be finding their right spots,” Seaver said. “I think we have great leadership from our senior class and a lot of drive from different players to be good.”

North Attleboro

2016 Record: 12-10
2016 Finish: Reached D1 South Quarterfinal
Coach: Jeff Crins

North Attleboro is looking to build on its state tournament berth a season ago and take the program a step forward in 2017. And Big Red has a good reason for optimism with so many key pieces back this year. The Rocketeers return their top three hitters from a year ago in Amelia Murphy (204 kills), Katie Demontigny (162 kills) and captain Caroline Vigorito. Leah Marceau is the team’s other captain and was a big piece of North’s defensive game, and a top server on the team.

“We are looking forward to a positive year this year,” Crins said. “We hope to have a stronger record than last year and compete against the top teams in the Hock league this year. With a big senior team this year I have high expectations for them and I am trusting that their experience will help them through some of the tough matches. My hope as a coach is that they come together as a team and really play to their potential.”

Oliver Ames

2016 Record: 11-11
2016 Finish: Reached D1 South Quarterfinals
Coach: Chelsea Cunningham

Oliver Ames lost just three seniors to graduation, which means the majority of the Tigers are back this season and looking to compete in a deep Kelley-Rex division. Four-year varsity player Emma Petrillo (captain) returns as one of the team’s outside hitters and three-year varsity player Katie Flynn (captain) is back to man the right side of the attack. 2016 HockomockSports.com First Team selection Kayla Raymond (captain) will anchor net play from the middle. Sophomore Allie Kemp will step in to handle setting duties while Sadie Homer will lead the defense from the libero spot. Other returning varsity players include senior Maya Fetcho, senior Jacki Kandar, senior Caroline Cavanaugh, Grace McCallum and Jordyn Vella.

“This group of girls are feisty, committed and motivated to say the least; the girls come ready for all practice and have been anticipating for this competitive season to start,” said OA head coach Chelsea Cunningham. “From last year to this year, the chemistry is there for the majority of the team.”

Sharon

2016 Record: 4-14
2016 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Andrea Lovett

Now in their second year under coach Andrea Lovett, the Eagles are looking to take yet another step forward. Returning six seniors, including four starters, is a good start for Lovett. Senior Jess Allan is back after a standout junior season that earned her HockomockSports.com Second Team honors in 2016. Cori Jermyn is also back and will be seeing time at outside hitter this season as the Eagles have found two capable middles to fill those spots. Ariana Chabot will continue as the team’s setter this season for the Eagles.

“I think we have a ton of talent and a group of athletes who are ready to go 100% from the first point to the last in every game,” Lovett said. “It’s going to be an exciting season for Sharon volleyball.”

Stoughton

2016 Record: 10-11
2016 Finish: Reached D2 South First Round
Coach: Erica Batchelder

With two key pieces back from its offense a year ago, the Black Knights are looking to compete for the Davenport title and get back to the state tournament. One of the league’s top attacking options, Val Whalen, is back in the middle for Stoughton as well as classmate Jordan Motley. The duo not only provides Stoughton with offense, they are two top defensive options at the net. Senior captain Haley Stone will be tasked with anchoring the back line defensively.

“Stoughton hopes to make it to the postseason again with hard work and communication,” said Stoughton head coach Erica Batchelder.

Taunton

2016 Record: 5-14
2016 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Toby Chaperon

The Tigers have graduated 20 seniors between the past two seasons, and now will rely on a group of younger players to help get back to the state tournament. However, Taunton has two seniors this season that they will rely on heavily. Sam Reaume (outside/middle) is back after being limited by injury a season ago and will be a top option at the net for the Tigers. Junior Kayli Fagan returns as the team’s setter after a stellar sophomore campaign while McKenzie Lucie (libero) also is back with varsity experience. Senior Rawan Hamie, juniors Kamila Cuevas, Adara Moreno, Sam Martin, Aaliyah Gillenwater, Michaela Felici, Sam Silviera and sophomore Alyssa Turcotte will be looked to fill voids up front while juniors Jaime Brown, Elaine Bodemer and Breanna Fevrier will be tasked with bolstering the defense from the back row.

“Obviously our goal is to get back to the state tournament,” said THS head coach Toby Chaperon. “Being in our league, every match is a grind and every win is hard fought so we know we have our work cut out for ourselves but I think with players like Sam Reaume and Kayli Fagan leading the way we can make a push to get back to the tournament.yeah

Players to Watch

Players are listed alphabetically

Jess Allan, Sharon – A four-year varsity player, Allan emerged as one of the top offensive players in the league last season with 133 kills. Not only is she a top hitter, she is also dangerous serving the ball.

Kyra Alves & Kelley Reichert, Milford – Alves emerged as one of the most reliable defensive players in the league last year. Her ability to read hitters helps put her in the right position to handle attacks and set Milford’s offense in motion. Reichert provided the Hawks with versatility a season ago. She will likely be one of the team’s top attacking options this season and will be one of the league’s top servers.

Kayli Fagan, Taunton – The Tigers had a down year in 2016 but Fagan stepped up and became one of the top setters in the league. Now with Sam Reaume back, Fagan will have a top attacking option to work with.

Meg Hill, Mansfield – Hill has improved every year both offensively and defensively. Her height helps her as one of the top blockers in the league and her power makes her one of the best attacking middles.

Lauren McGrath, Franklin – Even though she was just a sophomore last year, McGrath looked like a seasoned veteran setting the ball in 2016. She will have both middles back to work with this season while she works to create chemistry with outside and opposite hitters.

Amelia Murphy, North Attleboro – Murphy is one of four players back from the 2016 HockomockSports.com First Team. After registering 223 kills and 67 blocks a season ago, expect Big Red to rely on her offensive prowess again this season.

Lexi Pereira, Attleboro – Pereira is a do-it-all type player for Big Blue. Not only was she the team’s leader in kills, she was a top defensive player and a dangerous server as well.

Sydney Phillips, King Philip – Last year’s HockomockSports.com Player of the Year and league MVP is back and will be one of the top all-around players in the league, especially offensively.

Kayla Raymond, Oliver Ames – Raymond led the Tigers in kills (202) and blocks (56) during her junior season. While she will have to adjust to a new setter this season, her ability to attack the ball will help whoever takes over that spot.

Val Whalen, Stoughton – As one of the top middles in the league a year ago, Whalen returns for her senior season. A lot of the offense runs through Whalen but she’s still able to beat opposing defenses who try to stop her.

Bulldogs Bounced By Hopkinton In D2 Central Final

Canton volleyball
Canton’s Emma Murphy (9) blocks an attack from Hopkinton in the first set of the match. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
 
WELLESLEY, Mass. – As many teams in the Hockomock League and surrounding area know, Canton is atop defensive team year in and year out.

2016 was no different as the Bulldogs relied on its defense to clinch its 10th straight Hockomock League title and second consecutive trip to the D2 Central Final.

But as good as Canton’s defense is, top-seeded Hopkinton had a superior offense.

The Hillers used a well balanced attack to score a 3-0 win (25-14, 25-17, 25-17) over the Bulldogs and claim the D2 Central sectional title.

“We’ve stayed in all of our matches this year and we’ve won matches because of our defense,” Canton head coach Pat Cawley said. “They’ve done a great job day in and day out. But Hopkinton was shooting from all barrels today, we just couldn’t keep up. We had a couple blocks but in general it was just too quick for us.”

Hopkinton offense made it tough for Canton. The Hillers consistently had at least two attacking threats at the net and at many times, all three spots had top hitters. Add in the fact that both of Hopkinton’s outside hitters — Amanda Gilbert and Julia Canestrari — showed off the ability to hit cross court and line shots consistently.

“We mix it up as much as we can,” Hopkinton head coach Margie Grabmeier said. “We work hard at having a very versatile offense. Any of them can go in and play different positions, middles can play outside, outside can play opposite, opposites can play middle. They’re all just very strong and versatile.”

Hopkinton created separation early on the opening set, using a 5-0 to break a 4-4 tie. Gilbert and Mikayla Pucci each had a kill and Canestrari had a kill and an ace to force a timeout from Canton. The Bulldogs kept it close, down 13-10 but Hopkinton rattled off five straight points, capped by a kill from middle Jill Czerepuszko on a quick set.

The Hillers went on to take the set 25-14.

Canton stayed even with Hopkinton in the second set, the teams being tied 2-2, 4-4, 5-5, 6-6, and 8-8. But once again, the Hillers created the separation they needed with a quick run. A 10-3 spurt put the top-seed up 18-11, an advantage that Hopkinton held for the rest of the set. Kills from Canton’s Cassie Loftus (four kills) and Casey Shea brought the Bulldogs closer but Hopkinton took the 25-17 win.

“When we’d finally go on a run we’d miss a serve or hit the ball into the net,” Cawley said. “We made some unforced errors but all the credit goes to Hopkinton, they are such a great team. Offensively, defensively, they are good. I thought Emma Murphy did a great job at the net when we were able to get her the ball, she was able to put it down. Cassie Loftus came off the bench and had a couple of quick kills to give us some spark. We just couldn’t sustain it.”

Loftus had a pair of early kills in the third set but Hopkinton’s offense came roaring to life. A 10-1 run turned an early tie into a 12-3 advantage for the Hillers. Canton had a 5-0 run of its own to get within four at 16-12 but Hopkinton answered with a 5-1 run of its own.

Murphy (six kills, two blocks) finished off a set from Nicole Poole (14 assists, 13 digs) to bring Canton within five late but Hopkinton won the next three points on kills from Canestrari to win the set 25-17, and the match.

“We altered our lineup for each set to try and get different matchups and for a little while it was working,” Cawley said. “Hopkinton just kept putting the pressure on, we couldn’t run our offense. That was basically the name of the game.”

Canton volleyball finishes the season 18-4 and as D2 Central Finalists for the second straight year. It marked Canton’s fourth trip the sectional finals in the past five years, despite the Bulldogs returning just two players who saw meaningful minutes a year ago.

“I told the kids nobody in the world expected us to be here except for us, we had faith in ourselves,” Cawley said. “It was a whole new team, we only had one and a half positions back from last year. That left five and a half to replace, including the libero. They all played a little bit last year but very few minutes for most of them.

“I’m so proud of this team. Honestly I think I’m the most proud of this team of any team that I’ve had in 10 years and we’ve reached this point many times. I can’t take anything away from them, we’re a blue collar team, they worked day in and day out. We started the year with a bad loss to King Philip and honestly, we didn’t know what we had. But they worked and worked, we deserved to be here. Unfortunately we didn’t give our best showing today but I think the credit goes to Hopkinton.”

Canton Sweeps Milford To Return To D2 Central Final

Canton volleyball
Canton’s Casey Shea (31) attacks the ball in the first set against Milford. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
 
CANTON, Mass. – During the second set of the D2 Central Semifinal between Hockomock rivals Canton and Milford, Bulldogs head coach Pat Cawley had to call a timeout with her side trailing.

The Bulldogs had been in this situation before. In fact, it was just a couple weeks ago when Canton hosted the Scarlet Hawks for their second regular season meeting. In that much, just like Wednesday’s showdown, Canton won the opening set in relatively convincing fashion.

During the October 20th showdown, the Scarlet Hawks rallied to win the second set.

On Wednesday night, after Cawley’s timeout, Canton erased a six point deficit with a 14-2 run and went on to win the second set, and then the third in impressive fashion to score a 3-0 win. With the win, Canton advances to the D2 Central Final for the second straight season.

“We came out strong in that first set, we were really on fire, working together and I think we threw [Milford] off their game a little bit,” Cawley said. “I reminded the girls about a couple weeks ago. Volleyball is like that – teams come out flat and can pick it up. Volleyball is never over until the end. I reminded them but we were still flat to start the second. I called the timeout to calm them down – it’s such a mental game. I told them to work one point at a time and to their credit, that’s what they did and then we went ahead.”

While Milford held a 12-6 lead, one of Casey Shea’s team-high nine kills sparked Canton’s run. An ace from Erika Lum tied the set at 12-12 and an ace from Julia Panico gave Canton its first lead of the set since the opening point at 14-13. Canton stretched its second set lead to 20-13 before Milford chipped away. The Scarlet Hawks won three straight points with the set on the line but a service error gave Canton a 25-20 win.

Canton started the match with a pair of kills, setting the tone for the rest of the way while also getting Canton’s crowd – “the best crowd we ever had in Cawley’s 16 years – into the match early on.

An ace from Maria Mackie forced Linda Zacchilli to call timeout with her squad down 10-4. Canton stretched the lead to double digits behind a pair of Milford errors but the Scarlet Hawks made a run at the end of the set to make it close. An ace from Ally Zagami brought Milford back within five (19-14) but Canton closed with a 6-2 run, punctuated by a block kill from Shea and outside hitter Hannah Jerrier.

Shea and fellow middle Emma Murphy (eight kills, three blocks, no errors) were the key pieces in Canton’s offense. Setter Nicole Poole (17 assists, 13 digs, two kills) spread the offense around nicely but the Scarlet Hawks struggled to stop Shea and Murphy in the middle.

“Our game plan this year is middles – they are our stronger players. Our outsides have come on stronger during the second half of the season too,” Cawley said. “There’s only one attacking player on this team that played significant last year at all, Emma Murphy in the middle. Casey Shea played on the weak side last year so we moved her to the middle.

“Everybody else is new so it’s been a learning process. In 20 matches, I’ve probably had 15 different lineups. It’s the epitome of team, we don’t really have any star players besides Nicole – she’s been our backbone, she’s awesome – everybody else contributes in whatever way they can.”

With the momentum of its side after winning the first two sets, Canton raced out to a quick 6-0 lead in the third set. A kill from Murphy and a kill from Shea sandwiched around a handful of Milford errors put the Bulldogs up 16-4.

At one point during the set, Canton had three straight attacks blocked, but each time had a player there to cover. It was that one play that showed how well Canton handled the match defensively.

“You’re going to win volleyball games by doing the small things, whether it’s covering the attack, picking up tips, chasing down balls – those are the things that win games,” Cawley said. “You can pound as much as you want but that can’t win a match on its own — it’s all the small things.”

Canton finished the final set with a 25-9 win, the majority of the Bulldogs’ early points come off errors from the Scarlet Hawks.

“It wasn’t our day, we really didn’t bring our ‘A’ game,” Zacchilli said. “And we have been playing very, very well lately – even in practice. We’ve been really sharp, the kids have been focused. I had said to my coaches I was surprised we hadn’t seen the deer in the headlights look in the first two playoff games because none of the kids have tournament experience. I saw that look tonight. There were some nerves out there and when you get to this point, everyone is good. They’re going to score their points, they’re going to get the ball to the floor but when we have our opportunity, we can’t hit it into the net, we can’t make unforced errors.

“I don’t want to take anything away from Canton, they played very well. But we made a lot of unforced errors on easy balls and hit a lot of balls into the net on good sets, which we haven’t been doing.”

In her first year back at the helm, Zacchilli was pleased with the first year – taking a team that missed the postseason a year ago to the D2 Central Semifinals.

“I’m very pleased with the season as a whole,” Zacchilli said. “The kids were great, the senior leadership has been amazing. I’m really glad I kept all of the seniors. Even the seniors that are more practice players, they helped to make this team. We had 10 kids in the rotation too and I normally don’t have that many but we had a lot of kids that deserved to be out on the floor. I don’t think there’s one player on the team that hasn’t made progress from day one until now and that’s what it’s all about.”

Zagami led Milford with six kills and six aces, Allie Collins had eight assists and Kelley Reichert had five kills and 18 digs.

Canton volleyball will take on top-seeded Hopkinton (19-2) on Saturday, at 4:00 at Wellesley High School in the D2 Central Final.

Thursday’s Schedule & Scoreboard – 10/20/16

Today’s games are listed below.

Golf
Hockomock League Championships (@ Blue Hills Country Club) – Click here for full results and a photo gallery

Volleyball
Milford, 1 @ Canton, 3 – FinalWith the match tied 1-1, Canton erased a 23-18 deficit in the third set and picked up a 26-24 win to go ahead 2-1. The Bulldogs went on to win 3-1, 25-14, 21-25, 26-24, 25-17. “It was a great hard fought match tonight,” Canton head coach Pat Cawley said. Nicole Poole – “always our backbone,” Cawley said – led the Bulldogs with 29 assists, eight kills and an ace. Cawley said Emma Murphy played her best match of the year with 11 kills and a block. Casey Shea added 10 kills and four blocks. With the win, Canton clinched the Davenport division title – the program’s 10th straight title.

Cross Country
Canton @ Medfield, 3:45

Bulldogs Come Up Aces On Special Night Against OA

Canton volleyball
Emma Murphy (9) gets a point for the Bulldogs in a three-game sweep of Oliver Ames on Ace It For Alaina Night. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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CANTON, Mass. – Prior to Thursday night’s game, senior setter Nicole Poole took the microphone and addressed the large crowd of students, family members, and friends sitting in the Canton High gym. She spoke about her best friend Alaina Goodwin, a fellow senior who was stricken with a rare spinal cord stroke that has left her immobile from the waist down and who was the inspiration for Ace It For Alaina.

Poole and the other Canton captains presented flowers to Alaina’s parents and to her twin sister Darria before posing for a photo. When the pregame ceremony was done, the Bulldogs took the emotion of the evening and channeled it into a dominating sweep of visiting Oliver Ames, winning 25-15, 25-16, 25-11.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

It was fitting that on match point, Poole toed the service line and fired her sixth ace of the night to seal a victory in honor of her good friend. She added 17 assists, 10 digs and five kills in a stellar all-around performance.

“Alaina is really important to me, especially, and all the girls on this team,” said Poole after the game. “She’s an amazing girl. I can’t describe in words how important she is to all of us. I think it definitely motivated us a lot.”

Canton coach Pat Cawley added, “Nicole plays like that everyday. She’s solid. We’ve had great setters, athletic setters, but she’s pure hands and she has the best attitude, she never complains, she runs down every ball and she did it again tonight. She is the calm in every storm.”

It definitely felt like a storm at the start of the game, as a raucous student section echoed through the gym to spur on the Bulldogs. OA jumped out to a 3-0 lead to start the game, but Canton would start to take control behind senior middle hitter Casey Shea, who had five of her seven kills in the opening set. OA’sKatie Flynn kept it close with three kills and Kayla Raymond added two of her nine kills in the first but Poole closed out the set with a quick kill of her own.

“We’re kind of a different look this year,” said Cawley. “We’re trying to cut down on our unforced errors. We have some solid hitters, but we don’t have any ‘wow’ hitters this year. We have a great setter and great defense.”

The game stayed close in the second set, until Poole stepped to the service line with the Bulldogs leading 11-10 after a kill by OA’s Emma Petrillo. Canton would win the next six points, three of them on Poole aces and one on a kill by Emma Murphy. Despite three kills from Raymond down the stretch of the set, Canton pulled into a 2-0 lead in the match.

“Our serve-receive has been on for two weeks and they chose tonight to not have it on,” said OA coach Chelsea Correia with a chuckle. “I’ve switched my liberos so my sophomore is getting a lot of playing time, but it shouldn’t be a problem if I switch one player in. We’re working on connection and chemistry.”

The crowd got even louder in the third set and the Bulldogs continued to feed off the energy in the gym. Although OA would get 20 assists from senior setter Bridget McCarthy, the Tigers struggled to get a rhythm going. Outside hitter Erika Lum had a couple of kills for Canton and libero Julia Panico and Emily Lynch kept the plays alive defensively. Sophomore Theresa O’Brien added two kills in the final few points.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Poole stepped up to win the match with a grin that stretched from ear to ear and sent in another solid serve that the Tigers could not return. “It was an overwhelming feeling when the final shot went in,” she explained.

“You really felt like you made a difference and we learned that this is a community that relies so much on each other and you feel like when you do it for someone it means so much more.”

The players put back on the purple t-shirts made for the occasion and, after making a video to send to Alaina, gathered around the Goodwin family for a moment with Alaina’s parents.

“Volleyball is important, we work hard, we want to win the Hock, we want to win a state championship, but when you have a kid that is paralyzed it put everything in perspective,” said Cawley, who praised her team for being able to refocus on the game in the midst of everything.

“They gave everything they could to make this the best night they could for Alaina.”

After the game was over, Alaina’s sister Darria took a moment to speak about what the night an the response from the Canton community meant to her. “At first I was nervous because I don’t like the attention and it’s been hard to talk about,” she admitted, “but I’m happy all of this was put together and all the support, all the people rallying behind her makes it easier.”

Darria continued, “Everyone has been so supportive. I have a lot of great teachers and classmates. Everyone is really understanding.”

A fundraising page has been established for the Goodwin family to help while Alaina remains at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital in Charlestown, where Darria said there have been noticeable improvements. To support the Goodwin family, visit https://www.gofundme.com/2m29n9y4.

Canton (10-1) will play again on Friday in its first non-league game of the season against defending Div. 2 state champion Notre Dame Academy (Hingham). Oliver Ames (7-7, 6-5) will have three home games next week beginning with Franklin on Monday.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Volleyball: 2016 Hockomock League Preview

Canton volleyball
Canton volleyball will look to continue its dominant stretch in the Hockomock this season. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

By HockomockSports.com Staff

2016 Hockomock Volleyball Preview

Attleboro

2015 Record: 2-18
2015 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Lindsey McDonald

The Bombardiers are hoping to take a step forward and make a dent in the very competitive Kelley-Rex Division. Attleboro picked up a pair of non-league wins last season and is hoping that success can start to translate to league play. Head coach Lindsey McDonald noted the offseason work of juniors Lexi Pereira and Sarah Lynch. Both Pereira and Lynch will play as outside hitters and McDonald said she expects both to bring a lot of power to the attack. Liz Howe, a captain, will be in charge of getting the attack going from the setter position while captain Julya Carlson will anchor the defensive effort for the Bombardiers.

“I am anticipating an improved season for us,” McDonald said. “[Our] captains are providing solid leadership on and off the court and the team has been gelling nicely.”

Canton

2015 Record: 16-5 (Davenport Division Champions)
2015 Finish: Reached D2 Central Final
Coach: Pat Cawley

Canton has had a dominant run in the Davenport division over the past six years and the Bulldogs are looking to continue that tradition in 2016. Canton has a dozen seniors on the team and will be relying on their experience and leadership to make another run at the division title and in the playoffs. Nicole Poole returns as a second year starter at setter and will be the catalyst for Canton’s offense. Emma Murphy and Casey Shea both have varsity experience and will be important pieces at the middle of the net. One spot that Canton has to fill is at outside hitter and the Bulldogs have a handful of players in the running including seniors Emma Gobbi, Erika Lum, Cassie Loftus, Kelsey Irons, Malia Claiborne and Maria Mackie. Canton is hoping for another year of strong defense with seniors Julia Panico, Kehla Minkin and Emily Lynch all vying for time in the back row.

“We are a senior laden team although most have not seen significant playing time at the varsity level,” head coach Pat Cawley said. “CHS volleyball is a proud tradition and I am confident that this year’s squad will do they can to keep this team competitive and make their senior experience one which they won’t forget.”

Foxboro

2015 Record: 6-12
2015 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Dan Damish

Foxboro is hoping its upward trajectory continues in 2016 after making great strides a season ago. Head coach Dan Damish and the Warriors will rely on its three senior captains – Lindsay Greer, Julia DiCenso and Julie Bridges – to continue to push the program in the right direction. DiCenso will be the starting setter for the fourth straight season and will have Danielle Conlon, the team’s leader in kills last season, at her disposal. DiCenso will also have Greer, Bridges, Ana Sanchez and Molly Crocker as offensive options. Junior Delya Lorquet could emerge as a big threat as a middle hitter as well for Foxboro this season.

“I’m very encouraged with the way the team came into the season in great volleyball shape,” Damish said. “Our top goal is to improve everyday and compete at a high level.”

Franklin

2015 Record: 15-5 (Kelley-Rex Division Champions)
2015 Finish: Reached D1 Central/West Quarterfinal
Coach: Kate Horsmann

Coming off the program’s second Kelley-Rex division title in the past five seasons, Franklin will be relying on youth to stay near the top of arguably the most competitive division in all of the Hockomock League’s sports. Senior Erin Skidmore (28 kills in 2015) is making the transition from the middle to the outside and will be a go-to attacking option at the net. At 6’3, junior Meaghan Maguire saw valuable time last year and will be a defensive leader at the net. The Panthers will look to sophomore setter Lauren McGrath to step in to set up the offense.

“This is the youngest team we have had since I started coaching,” head coach Kate Horsmann said. “We have five sophomores who could all be impact players for us this season. The outcome of our season will really depend on how quickly they adjust to the speed of the varsity game and how quickly we gel as a unit.”

King Philip

2015 Record: 16-6
2015 Finish: Reached D1 Central/East Semifinal
Coach: Kristen Geuss

King Philip had another strong campaign a year ago and are looking to repeat it in 2016. The Warriors have six returning seniors and all are expected to play important roles for KP this season. Senior captain Carly Adams will set the offense in motion from the setter position, senior captain Emma Lopez will be a key piece in the attack from the outside hitter spot and senior captain Angela Vellante will be a defensive specialist in the back row for KP. Senior Amanda Loewen will also be a key piece to the defense as the team’s libero. Senior Liv Balduf will help balance the offense as a rightside hitter while Molly Croke will help bolster the team’s defense. Junior Sydney Phillips, another returner from last year’s squad, will be an attacking option as an outside hitter.

“I expect us to be a strong team once again this year,” head coach Kristen Geuss said. “We have lost significant depth at the outside hitter position from last year but am encouraged by how our returning players have stepped up and progressed during our practices.”

Mansfield

2015 Record: 14-6 (Kelley-Rex Division Champions)
2015 Finish: Reached D1 South Quarterfinal
Coach: Melissa Heeden

The Hornets will look to follow up a historic one with another strong showing and they have some experienced players to do so. It will start with defense for Mansfield, who return one of the top liberos in Jess Haradon and one of the top middle blockers in Meg Hill, the 2015 HockomockSports.com Underclassman of the Year. Mansfield will have to replace some key pieces but senior Chloe Peters will be tasked with setting up the offense while junior Julia Harrison, who saw some minutes as a sophomore a year ago, will be one of the Hornets’ outside hitters.

“We have five great seniors who have been working hard to lead the team,” head coach Melissa Heeden said. “They are a great group of girls. We have some work to do to fill in from the six seniors who graduated last year, but a are really looking forward to the season.”

Milford

2015 Record: 9-11
2015 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Linda Zacchilli

The Scarlet Hawks just missed out on the playoffs a season ago but with Linda Zacchilli back on the bench, Milford could be right in the mix for the Davenport title. Offensively, Milford will need some need faces to step up after its top three kills leaders graduated. Junior Kelley Reichert is back after 66 kills last season and senior Stefani Chiarelli and junior Juliana Tracy will both factor into the offense as well. Both of Milford’s setters – Lauren Zouranjian (301 assists) and Allie Collins (198) – are back for 2016, which should help the Scarlet Hawks’ offense flow. Libero Kyra Alves is back after being a strong point in the defense last year as well.

North Attleboro

2015 Record: 11-11
2015 Finish: Reached D1 South Quarterfinal
Coach: Jeff Crins

The 2016 season will be a bit different for North Attleboro compared to a year ago. The Red Rocketeers now compete in the Davenport division and their attack has been bolstered by the addition of Amelia Murphy. Murphy was a top offensive player in the league a year ago at KP but has since transferred to North Attleboro. Murphy will be an attacking option along with junior Katie DeMontigny (100 kills last season) and Tori Melanson, who will also be a presence defensively at the net (82 kills, 70 blocks in 2015). North Attleboro will need to fill in the role of setter with Taylin Shultz graduated. Gabby Duva and Lindsay Howlett will be two key defensive players for the Rocketeers this season.

Oliver Ames

2015 Record: 7-12
2015 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Chelsea Correia

Oliver Ames has a strong mix of experienced players returning this Fall and are looking to take a trip back to the postseason after missing out in 2015. Senior captain Bridget McCarthy, in her fourth year on varsity, returns as the starting setter while fellow captain Alyssa Gavin returns as a top defensive option in the back row along with Rachel Foley. Junior Emma Petrillo will be one offensive option for the Tigers as an outside hitter, junior Katherine Flynn will be another as a right side hitter. Juniors Maya Fetcho and Kayla Raymond will rotate as offensive threats from the middle of the net while sophomore Sadie Homer will be the Tigers’ starting libero this season. Other names to keep an eye on include juniors Caroline Cavanaugh, Jacqueline Kander and freshmen Allison Kemp and Jordyn Vella.

“If we commit to it, I think we can rise to many challenges, prepare for all possibilities, and make the most of everything,” head coach Chelsea Correia.

Sharon

2015 Record: 2-16
2015 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Andrea Lovett

New head coach Andrea Lovett is excited about the direction the Sharon volleyball program is headed and is hoping 2016 will be the first step in the right direction. Senior captain Faythe Gomolka returns this year as this the team’s versatile setter and has a great rapport with senior captain and middle hitter Natalie Kane. Seniors Marni Heitin, Luba Korn, Gesi Molla and Jonathan Dickerman will all factor in for the Eagles this season as well. Junior Jess Allan, now in her third year on varsity, will be an attacking option as an outside hitter while classmate Cori Jermyn will be an attacking option from the right side.

“As a new head coach, I am excited to work with the team on developing a more aggressive mindset and working on some more complex offensive systems to raise our level of play and be competitive in the league this year,” Lovett said.

Stoughton

2015 Record: 10-11
2015 Finish: Reached D2 South First Round
Coach: Erica Batchelder

The Black Knights had a handful of talented players graduated from last year’s team but there is hope for optimism because of who is back this year. Stoughton’s kills leader junior Val Whalen is back for her third year of varsity after registering 129 kills a season ago. Junior Jordan Motley and senior Riley Bagley will also be big pieces of Stoughton’s attack this season after slamming 84 and 77 kills, respectively, in 2015. The biggest challenge for Stoughton will be finding players to step up in other areas. The team’s ace and assists leader from last season, Bianca DeSousa, the team’s leader in blocks and digs, Bridget Whalen, and the team’s leader in serve receives, Ava Siegel, all graduated. First year head coach Erica Batchelder will be looking to players to step up into those roles.

Taunton

2015 Record: 15-9
2015 Finish: Reached D1 South Final
Coach: Toby Chaperon

Taunton turned a successful regular season and a fourth place finish in the Kelley-Rex into one of the more memorable seasons in Tigers’ history. Taunton made a run all the way to the D1 South Final before falling to eventual state champion Barnstable. It will be a tough task to repeat with the amount of players that Taunton graduated, but the Tigers are up for the challenge. Taunton will need a new setter to step up after graduating Tatum Speicher, one of the top in the area at the position. Offensively, Emily Moor (team-high 254 kills in 2015) is back for her senior season while junior Sam Reaume (69 kills), senior Abby Waldron (69 kills) and senior Delaney Powell (26 kills) are all back after making an impact at the net a season ago.

Players to Watch

Players are listed alphabetically

Carly Adams, King Philip – King Philip was a dangerous attacking team a season ago and Adams, the team’s setter, was the big reason why. Adams will be a catalyst in getting the Warriors’ offense going this season.

Julia DiCenso, Foxboro – There aren’t many players in the league with the experience that DiCenso has. Now a senior captain, DiCenso is in her fourth year as the starting setter for the Warriors and will be a key piece of the offense this season.

Jess Haradon, Mansfield – Haradon really impressed defensively in her first year on varsity and looks to do the same in 2016. The senior will look to continue as a defensive specialist after leading Mansfield with 264 digs a season ago.

Meg Hill, Mansfield – As just a sophomore, Hill led the Hornets in kills (222), and blocks (74). Now a year older, expect another strong attacking year at the net for the 2015 HockomockSports.com Underclassman of the Year.

Bridget McCarthy, Oliver Ames – McCarthy is another four year varsity player and will likely eclipse a setting milestone this season. OA has a handful of young attacking options but things will be easier for them with McCarthy as the setter.

Emily Moor, Taunton – Moor had the most kills in 2015 for players returning this season, which is good news for Taunton. As the Tigers look for new names to emerge in other spots, they can rely on the consistent offense of Moor.

Amelia Murphy, North Attleboro –North Attleboro graduated a great attacking threat in Sara Youssef but now have KP transfer Amelia Murphy at the net. Murphy has the ability to hit around the block, which is very difficult for defenses.

Nicole Poole, Canton Canton has been the team to beat in the Hock for a good stretch now, including last season with Poole setting up the offense. Canton will need new names to step up as attacking options but having Poole as the setter will make things easier.

Erin Skidmore, Franklin – Franklin is in need of some players to step up as attacking options and Skidmore is looking to be one option as she moves from the middle to the outside. The Panthers have a good balance this year and Skidmore looks to be one of their top attacking options.

Val Whalen, Stoughton – The junior returns after leading the Black Knights in kills a year ago. If the Black Knights can find a replacement at setter, Whalen could be a tough player to stop this season.