Warriors Used Balanced Attack to Knock Off Quincy

King Philip girls basketball
KP senior Shannon O’Connor scored 10 of her 13 points in the fourth quarter to hold off Quincy in the first round of the state tournament. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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WRENTHAM, Mass. -What has made King Philip tough to beat all season is that the Warriors can count on multiple players to come through on the offensive end. It is hard to defend a team with multiple players that can put the ball in the basket. That continued on Monday night in the opening round of the state tournament against Quincy as KP had three players hit double figures, and each stepped up in different quarters, to make it a successful return to the playoffs following a five-year absence.

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Faye Veilleux scored 12 of her game-high 16 points in the first half, Faith Roy scored eight of her 10 points in the third quarter, and Shannon O’Connor scored 10 of her 13 points to close out the game in the fourth to seal a 63-52 victory.

“Everybody had their quarter and everybody stepped up a little bit,” said second-year coach Amy Siggens, who was coaching her first tournament game. “I think this was really great teamwork that we’re constantly drilling into them. We have kids that just step up and we’re ready for anyone to have their day and we love that feeling of, if you’re not going to do it we’re going to find someone else who will.”

“It feels great,” said O’Connor, who was playing in the postseason for the first time. “We put in a lot of work in practice to prepare for this game, so I’m really happy we won for all my teammates too who hadn’t gotten to experience this yet.”

Quincy is a team that likes to run and press and turn the game into a track meet. In the first quarter, the Warriors tried to match them stride for stride and it created a frenetic, fast-paced game, but one that suited the visitors.

Veilleux knocked down a jumper off a Roy assist and O’Connor drilled a three to get the Warriors off to the perfect start, but the Presidents got back into it with their speed in the open court and tenacity in the press. Brianna James scored off a Roy rebound and dish to keep KP in front 11-8 but an 8-2 run put Quincy up three after one.

“We just kept telling them that we’re better than this,” Siggens said. “We were going for steals we shouldn’t have been and they were going right by us and we got our kids in foul trouble because they’re cutting middle and we just wanted to fix it.”

In the second quarter, it was KP that clamped down on defense by slowing the tempo and forcing the Presidents to try and score in the half court. Emma Glaser (eight points and 11 rebounds) knocked down a jumper and Caroline Aaron came off the bench to knock down a three. Veilleux hit a pull-up jumper in transition to tie the game at 20-20.

Roy got on the board with a runner and Veilleux scored after Glaser hit her with a bounce pass on the break. Six free throws later and KP went into the break leading 30-23, having limited the Presidents to just seven points in the second.

“We really pride ourselves on our defense,” said Siggens. “They were really fast, maybe faster than we thought, so our rotation wasn’t as we normally would have it, but it is what it is, you just have to adjust sometimes on the fly.”

Aaron (seven points) got things going in the third with a transition basket and Roy knocked down a shot off an O’Connor pass to push the lead into double digits for the first time. Roy caught fire in the third, scoring half of KP’s points in the quarter, including a three-point play off an inbounds pass from Kendall Mason that got the Warriors a 13-point lead.

KP was up 11 heading to the fourth quarter, but Quincy kept hanging around. Twice the Presidents would cut the lead to as few as eight points in the final eight minutes, but each time O’Connor had an answer.

“With the game coming to an end, what could possibly be my last game, I was really trying to make things happen,” O’Connor explained. “My teammates set great screens for me, so I got a couple of open shots.”

She knocked down a pair of jumpers, scored on an offensive rebound, assisted on a Veilleux layup, and then hit 3-of-4 at the line in the closing minute. When O’Connor needed some help, fellow senior Julia Leroux stepped up and drilled a straightaway dagger three to answer one by Quincy on the other end and make it 61-50.

With the win, King Philip (14-7) faces a trip to the top seed in Div. 1 South, Bridgewater-Raynham, on Friday night. Both coach and player were excited at the prospect of taking on the top team in the bracket.

Siggens said, “We’re ready. We’re excited to be in the tournament. It’s about survival and getting to the next game. We did it tonight and we’ll see what happens on Friday. We’d love to get the upset, but they’re a good team.

“Not only is the pressure higher but it’s also more fun as the rounds go on,” O’Connor added. “We’re going to have a tough week of practice preparing for them and I’m excited for what we can do.”

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Warriors Comeback Falls Short in Five-Set Thriller

King Philip Volleyball
King Philip battled back from two games down to force a fifth game against Quincy in the Div. 1 Central-East semifinal. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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WRENTHAM, Mass. – In the opening game of Thursday night’s Div. 1 Central-East semifinal, King Philip jumped all over visiting Quincy to build a 12-4 lead and then extending it back to seven points at 20-13. It looked like the Warriors were going to have a quick one-game lead on the Presidents in the rematch of last year’s five-setter at this same stage.

Instead, Quincy rallied to win 12 of the next 15 points and steal the game. Volleyball is a game of momentum swings and KP watched the Presidents carry their momentum over into a dominant second game that put Quincy on the verge of another sectional final.

That could have been it for another strong season for the Warriors, but instead KP fought back. Urged on by its home fans, KP swung the momentum back on its side and stormed back into the match, winning game three and saving a pair of match points to take game four.

Unfortunately for KP (19-3), Quincy was not rattled by the Warriors forcing a fifth game or by the Warriors jumping out to an early 4-1 lead in the deciding set. The teams battled back and forth and in the end, Quincy (19-3) had just enough to pull out the 3-2 (25-23, 25-16, 15-25, 26-28, 15-13) victory and advance again to the final.

“They played great,” said KP coach Kristen Geuss about Thursday’s opponent. “They are a great defensive team; they picked up everything.

“We tried. We played our game…We’ve come back from two games before, just couldn’t pull it out tonight. It wasn’t our night.”

Unlike on Tuesday, KP had the size advantage on Quincy, but the Presidents still had strength on the outside, especially senior Jessie Lei. Quincy took an early 4-1 lead but KP bounced right back with an 11-0 run to take control of the first set. Carly Adams had three straight aces at one point in the run and Sydney Phillips, who was chosen as the Hockomock League MVP by the coaches, added four kills.

The Presidents cut into the lead to get it down to four points, but again KP had an answer with Michaela Palumbo getting a big block to push the lead back to seven at 20-13. Things fell apart for the Warriors in the serve-receive game and Quincy stormed back into it. Geuss tried calling both her timeouts but the visitors took the set.

“We came out a little slow, as usual, and in tournament games you just can’t do that,” Geuss explained.

The energy of the first game carried into the second and Quincy built an early lead. After an error cut the lead to just two points, the Presidents went on a 9-3 run and took command at 19-11. The lone Warriors player who was having any success in the second was outside hitter Liv Baldufu>, as Quincy abandoned the block and sat back to seemingly dig every hit.

“They were getting all the digs,” said Geuss. “I guess they didn’t have to [block] cause they’re that good defensively.”

When asked if it is difficult to bounce back after losing a lead like KP did in the first, Geuss replied, “Absolutely. They had the enthusiasm for the second game. We didn’t. We just weren’t playing our game.”

The Warriors found their game in the third. Phillips had been quiet since her strong start but suddenly started clicking off the passing of Adams and the defensive play of libero Amanda Loewen. Phillips had seven kills in the second and Loewen closed out the game with back-to-back aces to keep the match alive.

Guess was asked about what got Phillips going in the third. She said, “She just needed her confidence back. I think once she got some more momentum, once you get one over and in you start to pick up some confidence.”

KP jumped out to a big lead in the fourth set as well with Loewen getting two more aces and the Warriors saving a point with Adams, Loewen, Kat Kmetz, and Molly Croke all keeping the ball alive before Balduf finished it with a blast down the line to make it 14-6.

The fifth set seemed inevitable at that point but again the Presidents showed resiliency to bounce back, cutting the lead to just three at 18-15. Phillips had the response for KP with three straight kills to give the home team a 23-17 lead, but the Warriors could not close it out and a kill by Shannon Foley tied it at 24-24.

Twice KP had to save a match point and then Emma Lopez rose up and earned her fourth kill of the game to seal a 28-26 win.

In the fifth, with the crowd riveted to every hit, KP took a 4-1 lead after a pair of Phillips kills. Quincy bounced back to win the next five points and force Geuss into a timeout. Lopez tied it at 8-8 with a kill but Quincy would regain the lead at 12-9 and force a second timeout.

A service error and a Phillips kill got KP within one. After an errant shot, Phillips made it 13-12. A service error set up the third match point for Quincy, but Phillips kept the game alive with another kill. The fourth match point turned out to be the difference for Quincy and fittingly it was Lei that got the winner.

“We weren’t picking up the tips. One or two points here or there could’ve changed the momentum easily,” said Geuss.

She added, “It’s good competition. It’s good volleyball and we had a great season. I’m so proud of them.”