OA Wins Battle of League Leaders in Milford

Oliver Ames Volleyball
OA senior Jordan Bosse led the Tigers with 13 kills, helping them earn a four-set win at Milford in a battle of teams that entered the night leading their respective divisions. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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MILFORD, Mass. – Oliver Ames dominated the first two sets of Tuesday evening’s battle of division leaders at Milford, winning 25-11 and 25-14 to take control of the match. Everything was going OA’s way until the third set, when the Hawks stayed alive by grabbing a 25-19 win.

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Just when it looked like the hosts might also be able to grab the momentum and add drama to the match, OA took back control. The Tigers rolled in the fourth and final set, winning 25-12, to earn an impressive bounce back 3-1 victory that keeps them just ahead of Franklin and King Philip in the Kelley-Rex division title race.

“I said, the game’s not over,” said OA coach Chelsea Cunningham about her message to the team heading into the fourth set. “The game’s never over until you hear the whistle blow and if you take it one point at a time, play together, it makes a world of difference.”

Milford entered Tuesday’s game in a three-way tie for first in the Davenport division with Canton and North Attleboro and the Hawks started well enough in the opening set. Lauren Corsini had a pair of kills and Sarah Brogioli had an ace to put the home team up 4-2 early. That was the high point of the set for the Hawks.

OA setter Allie Kemp (27 assists) started spreading the ball around to the Tigers’ talented hitters, with Jordan Bosse (team-high 13 kills) and Ryley McNeeley (10 kills) both finding the range on the outside. The balance in the OA attack proved difficult for Milford to control.

Cunningham explained, “It’s nice to have options rather than rely on one person and strain that player. I like having options and the kids know they’re all options, so being able to mix it up and have a flexible lineup is really fun to work with.”

The Hawks also hurt themselves. Shorthanded after an injury ruled junior hitter Elise Fauerbach out for the season, Milford looked out of sorts in all aspects of the game from serve-receive to hitting to defense. OA took advantage to jump in front and never look back.

“Everything was off,” said Milford coach Tammy Webber. “We didn’t have everyone at practice yesterday. Elise went off [injured] on Friday, so we didn’t practice as a team with the new lineup. Not that it matters…we were just flat. We adjusted finally and then we didn’t stick with our game plan.”

The second set started even worse for Milford. OA won eight straight points to build an 11-1 lead. McNeeley continued to find the range on the outside and Sarah Morley had a pair of aces during her eight-point run at the service line. The Hawks tried to battle back behind Allison Corsini’s kills from her middle position, but OA quickly snuffed out any momentum.

Jordyn Vella smashed a kill right down the middle to make it 17-6. Brogioli got hot at the service line with three aces that cut the lead to nine, but Bosse closed out the set with another kill that put OA in position to take the match.

While it was an admittedly rough night for the Hawks, they showed fight in the third set to keep from being swept. The hosts grabbed the lead on back-to-back Brogioli kills, a block by Lauren Corsini, and an ace by Lexi Starks. OA got back within five, but consecutive kills by setter Julia Riordan and hitter Alyssa Williamson made it 22-15 and essentially sealed the set.

“We started blocking and playing defense and we were able to set up our offense, swinging and not making unforced errors,” said Webber. She added, “We need to rise to the occasion. We need to play better against the better teams, consistently.”

After extending the match, it looked like the home team might make it an interesting finish, but instead the Tigers responded, leading 6-1 and 9-2 to halt any momentum. Sophomore Hadley Rhodes gave OA a spark in the fourth set with back-to-back kills that made it 14-5 and then a block that put the Tigers ahead 22-8.

“She’s awesome,” Cunningham said about Rhodes. “She’s young, she wants to play, will do anything to get on the floor and when she gets that time she puts 100 percent in. I’ll take someone who’s feisty and wants to take risks.”

It was an important road win for the Tigers, keeping them one ahead of Franklin in the loss column and now two ahead of King Philip in the win column (OA has played two more league games than the Warriors).

Cunningham said, “We had to take this one seriously and know that we had to earn it. They’re starting to learn that when they earn their points it’s more fun that relying on other teams making mistakes.”

Oliver Ames (9-2, 8-1) will look to avenge one of its losses when it hosts Brockton on Friday. Milford (6-4, 6-3) will try to bounce back at league-leading Canton on Monday.

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Hawks Hang On For Win Over Hornets

Milford volleyball Elise Fauerbach
Milford’s Elise Fauerbach tries to hit around a Mansfield block in the third set. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
MILFORD, Mass. – There wasn’t much that could separate the Mansfield and Milford volleyball teams on Wednesday evening.

Entering the contest with identical 3-1 records, the Hawks and Hornets split the first four sets evenly, with the hosts grabbing the first and third while the visitors came back to level things twice, forcing a winner-take-all fifth set.

And even then, the two sides were nearly even. After a back-and-forth start, Milford went on an 8-1 run that put them a point away from one point away from clinching the game. That final point didn’t come easy, though, as Mansfield recorded four straight points to half the deficit.

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But in the end, the Hawks got that final point to earn a hard-fought 3-2 (25-19, 19-25, 25-17, 21-25, 15-10) win over the Hornets.

“I just told them to keep playing their game, and to take care of themselves,” said Milford coach Tammy Webber of her message to her team as Mansfield battled back late. “Obviously it’s a team game but if they all took care of their own jobs, things would work out and we were able to end it.”

While the Hawks didn’t register an ace in the fifth set, their serving proved to be a vital asset and a key to the win. After service errors on their first two chances, Milford put Mansfield under a lot of pressure with strong serving.

After taking a 6-5 lead on a block from Allison Corsini (nine kills, seven blocks), Mansfield’s defense had a hard time dealing with a strong serve from Elise Fauerbach. Two more strong serves from Fauerbach led to easy kills from Corsini as she slammed down a pair of open looks that popped up from the Hornets’ serve receive, putting the Hawks up 9-5.

Corsini and Alyssa Williamson (12 kills, two aces) had back-to-back kills coming out of a Hornet timeout, and a Mansfield hitting error combined with another Corsini kill (off another loose receive from Mansfield) put the Hawks on the verge of the win at 14-6.

Mansfield picked up some momentum when Olivia McGrath (13 kills, eight service points) put down a kill and registered an ace, and Julia Kelly slammed down a kill to make it 14-10 before a play error gave Milford the final point for the win.

“We picked up our serving in that fifth set,” Webber said. “Our serving is our first line of offense and we depend on it a lot. When it’s off, we feel it, you could see if some of the first sets. But it was on in that tight situation which was good.

We talked about [Allison] making her presence known at the net and taking control, between her and her sister [Lauren] at the net.”

The first game set the tone for the rest of the match, as neither side was able to generate a large lead. Milford had a 5-0 burst that featured a back row kill from Fauerbach to take a 16-11 lead but Mansfield battled back to make it a two-point game at 18-16 on a nice tip from Alina Nowakowski (11 kills) after a nice dig from Sam Sternburg (19 digs, 10 service points).

Milford sophomore Sarah Brogioli (five kills, seven aces) landed back-to-back aces while Williamson landed two big kills down the stretch to give the Hawks a 1-0 lead.

Mansfield used a 7-1 run early in the second set to take its largest lead of the match. Nowakowski had back-to-back kills, McGrath landed a big kill from the middle, and Julia Buiser had an ace to put the Hornets ahead 13-7. The run continued with two aces from McGrath and one from Olivia Fernando to make it 19-10. Milford made a mini-run but McGrath grabbed another kill to make it 1-1.

“In our last game, we weren’t talking consistently so I was really happy about being better at that today, I was really proud of that,” said Mansfield coach Melissa Heeden. “This is the first time we went to a fifth set, and I feel having back-to-back challenging games and another on Friday, it will benefit us. We just switched the rotation and it’s starting to gel. The girls are upset but I’m thrilled with where we are at.

“It’s still early in the season and I’m happy with where we are at. Of course I wish we won but I’m happy with how they fought back and how they played, it was a good team effort.”

Williamson had a pair of big kills in succession and Lauren Corsini (five kills, four blocks) added one of her own on a nice set from Julia Riordan (20 assists) to highlight a quick 7-2 burst in the third set for the Hawks. That little run made the difference and Brogioli landed a kill late to give Milford a 2-1 lead.

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Mansfield used a similar run in the fourth set as it had in the second, creating separation early. A pair of aces from Brogioli closed the game and two Hornet errors made it a tie game at 19-19. Mansfield kept the advantage thanks to two kills from McGrath and a key block from Emily Dardinski on a hit that would have tied the game. Kelly clinched the fourth set win with a nicely placed tip.

“I can’t believe how evenly matched that entire match was,” Webber said. “They had their ups, we had our ups, they had their downs, we had our downs, it was crazy. The fifth set started with two missed serves and it was just a matter of who was going to react better after that and we responded much better than we usually do.”

Milford volleyball (4-1 Hockomock, 4-1 overall) will look to make it three straight wins when it travels to North Attleboro on Friday. Mansfield (3-2, 3-2) will try and get back into the win column when it travels to Oliver Ames on Friday.