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.

Tigers’ Run Ends in South Final Against Needham

Taunton boys volleyball
Lance Law (1) takes a swing against Needham in the South final. Taunton lost 3-0 to the Rockets, the only loss of the season for the Tigers. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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NEWTON, Mass. – Taunton may have been the top seed heading into Thursday night’s South final at Newton South, the undefeated team having its best season in program history, but the Tigers were squaring off with Needham, a perennial power that had won the past three sectional titles and was only two years removed from winning a state championship.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

The Tigers (20-1) had the energy and the excitement of a program on the rise, but it turned out that the experience of having played, and won, on this stage many times before was too much to overcome. Needham won its fourth straight South crown with a 3-0 (25-16, 25-20, 25-11) sweep, although the match was closer than the final score indicated.

In the second set, Taunton led 18-15 and seemed to be on the verge of getting back into the match, but Needham ran off six straight points to grab the lead, the momentum, and eventually the control of the match.

“You have to execute at the highest level,” said Taunton coach Toby Chaperon. “They very rarely made any mistakes. They’re not going to shoot themselves in the foot. They’re going to rely on their intelligence and their execution and usually it works out.”


At the start of the match, Taunton seemed rushed. The Tigers were obviously excited about the opportunity and making uncharacteristic mistakes. Passes were just a little off target, blocks were a little too close to the net, and the Rockets seemed to take advantage of everything.

“We were excited to be here,” said Chaperon. “We were amped up to play and I think a couple of plays into it they got a couple big blocks and kind of put us on our heels right away and that’s a team when they put you on your heels, they’re going to push you right over.”

Following a Lance Law ace, Taunton trailed just 8-6, but Needham rattled off 12 of the next 16 points to extend the lead to as many as 10. To that point in the set, the Tigers had only two kills, one from Lens Esquil and the other from Collin Hunter.

Chaperon said of the Rockets, “Their defense was almost flawless. The seams that you think are open, they’re able to get them. They get touches, their back row guys are pulling them up. They just play an awesome brand of defense.”

Law had a kill and Marc DeSousa had a block for a point, as Taunton grabbed a little bit of positive play right at the end of the set and the Tigers carried that over despite falling behind in the match. They came back onto the court for the second looking much more composed and confident.

Taunton jumped out to a 7-1 lead in the second, behind hits from Law, Esquil, and Hunter. Needham answered with four straight to cut the lead to three, but Esquil again took a perfect pass from setter Ricardo DaFonseca, who was also a standout defensively throughout the match, and blasted the Tigers in front by four.

“We just rotated it up, so that we could get Lens up front a little bit,” Chaperon explained. “He’s our second best hitter and we tried to get him more swings. We thought he’s one of our better blockers and we thought he could challenge their opposite and outside hitters a little better.”

Things went back-and-forth for the next few points, with Needham getting back within one on six different occasions, but Law and Esquil always seemed to find a hit that kept Taunton in front. After a DaFonseca kill and a hit that went long, Needham took a timeout trailing 18-15. It turned out to be the moment that would seal the win for the Rockets.

Needham came out with two kills by Jack Cruickshank and one from setter Eli Wallace to tie the set. The Rockets scored the next three points before a Malik Charles kill ended the run and Gage Kingman managed to drop a shot in between the entire Needham defense to make it 21-20. Cruickshank and Cam Robins fired Needham to four straight points and a 2-0 lead in the match.

The Rockets made sure that there would be no three-set comeback from the Tigers. Needham took a commanding 8-1 lead in the third and really never looked back, closing out the match with a dominant set. There were moments of energy from Taunton, such as Charles smashing a point down the middle, but the Rockets led the set throughout.

Regardless of the result in the South final, this was the best season in program history for the Tigers and one that Chaperon believes could build for the future.

“It was fantastic. What a great ride,” he said. “They’re one of the best groups of guys I’ve ever been able to coach. Not only are they great volleyball players, they’re great citizens, great students, and they went through their tie where it was a rough road for a couple years, but look what happens.

“You’ve got the whole school behind you and that’s what high school athletics should be about. Every team deserves to play in front of crowds like this.”

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Taunton Sweeps Brookline In Playoff Opener

Taunton boys volleyball
Taunton’s Collin Hunter (right) goes up for an attack in the first set against Brookline. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
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TAUNTON, Mass. – Most of the boys’ volleyball teams in the playoffs boast a strong outside hitter-middle combo, but not many have the complementary and depth pieces that the top-seeded Taunton Tigers possess.

While seniors Lance Law and Lens Esquil spearhead the Tigers attack, classmates Collin Hunter, Malik Charles, and junior Alex Tavares complete a relentless attacking corps, one that helped the hosts pick up a 3-0 (25-19, 25-18, 25-15) sweep over ninth-seeded Brookline inside the Rabouin Field House at Taunton High School.

The result marked the program’s first-ever playoff win at home.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

“I think that’s what separates us is that we’re able to bring in that second layer of offense,” said Taunton head coach Toby Chaperon. “A lot of teams are expecting a lull or hoping for a mismatch, and they may or may not get it from us because we have the athleticism throughout the lineup. Being able to bring in that second wave of hitters and a middle, that helps us.”

Law (nine kills) gives the Tigers flexibility with the ability to hit as an outside hitter or an opposite and Esquil (10 kills) provides power up the middle. But when the Tigers rotate, there isn’t a soft spot in the lineup. Hunter (eight kills) is dangerous as an outside hitter, Charles (five kills) can hit in the middle or outside, and Tavares is a presence at the net at 6’4.

“I think that has brought us to where we are right now,” Chaperon said. “That’s really the difference maker. We know going into any match there are going to be some good hitters, a good middle…but if our other guys are on, I don’t know if there is a better complementary trio in the state. There’s still a long way to go but I feel highly about my guys. If they are playing the way I know they can play, we can do alright.”

“They are really able to spread that offense and they have a lot of athletic guys, guys that look like multi-sport athletes,” said Brookline coach Bryson Rainey. “That’s what you need coming into this game. I thought [Taunton] was a lot of fun to watch. I’m really happy for my guys though, this is a good learning experience.”

In the opening set, neither Taunton or Brookline could create separation early on. Esquil landed two kills before hitting an ace to give the Tigers its largest lead at 19-16. Law came up with a big block on Brookline’s top middle Eric Chabon to give the Tigers a 22-17 lead. Hunter added a late kill before an error gave the Tigers a 25-19 win.

“We knew [Brookline] would be ready to come and play,” Chaperon said. “They play in the toughest conference in the state so you can’t judge them by their record. They have a great outside hitter, their middle is as tough of a middle as you’ll play against in the state. We knew we had our hands full but I thought our athleticism kind of took us to the top.”

The second set mirrored the first set with no team leading by more than two points until late. Esquil had his best set in the second, planting a kill after a nice back set from Ricardo DaFonseca (32 assists) to give Taunton a 17-16 lead. Brookline came back to tie it at 18-18 but the hosts closed with a 7-0 run with Esquil (two blocks, two aces) landing an ace for the final point and a 2-0 lead.

“Lens has just really emerged as one of the top middles in my opinion that nobody probably knows about still,” Chaperon said. “His athleticism is just through the roof. He can get up and get almost any ball, he can block and do a lot of good things. He’s coming around and really learning how to play volleyball. He’s always had the athleticism but now he’s picking up some volleyball IQ. He’s seeing different things out there.”

The Tigers’ relentless attack paid dividends in the third set as they were able to build the separation easier on. Hunter dropped in a tip kill, hit another one that just fell in after Esquil made a nice play to keep the ball up after a block, and Hunter put an exclamation point on a 13-3 run with a kill that split a pair of blocks.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Brookline got the deficit down to seven but back-to-back kills from Charles put an end to any comeback hopes and Taunton sealed the victory with a 25-15 win in the third set. Gage Kingman finished with 10 digs for the Tigers.

“I think the defense is what carried us tonight,” Chaperon said. “Our serving wasn’t the greatest but we were able to pass better than we had been going into the tournament. I thought the passing needed to get better and we emphasized it in practice and it paid off tonight.”

Taunton boys volleyball (19-0) will take on the winner of #4 Greater New Bedford (16-4) and #5 Newton South (15-4) in the South semifinals on a date still to be determined.

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.

Powerhouse Barnstable Too Much For Taunton

By Jarett Leonard, HockomockSports.com Contributor
KINGSTON, Mass. – Barnstable had advanced to at least the Division 1 South semifinal every year since 1989, including 20 sectional titles and sixteen state championships. Taunton was appearing in its first D1 South final.
The Tigers won 15 matches this year, more than the past three seasons combined. The Red Raiders have not been held to fewer than 15 wins since 1988.
Experience was clearly on Barnstable’s side in the D1 South final Saturday night at Silver Lake High School as they ended Taunton’s magical run through the tournament with a quick three-set win.
“They’re the best team in the state, a dynasty,” Taunton head coach Toby Chaperon said. “We told our kids we’re a team of destiny going against a dynasty. However you want to think of it as an underdog story, that’s how it presented itself. Ultimately the result didn’t come in our favor today.”
Taunton defeated #10 Plymouth South, #2 Mansfield and #3 New Bedford en route to the final after finishing fourth in the Kelley-Rex Division during the regular season, an important milestone for the program.
“We knew we had to beat teams like Mansfield and New Bedford, and that was a good stepping stone for us because those teams are there every year,” Chaperon said. “It was a great accomplishment for our kids and I couldn’t be more proud of our kids and how they handled themselves. They worked hard all year and over the past five years.”
From the first serve, Barnstable’s experience presented itself clearly to the Tigers. Tied 4-4 in the first set, the Red Raiders won eight points in a row to open a 12-4 lead. Two kills by senior Emily Moor brought the Tigers within five before a 6-0 Barnstable run created enough separation for a 25-15 opening set victory.
Taunton started strongly in the second frame, with Moor and senior Aimee Kistner recording kills and Meghan Navarro adding an ace for a 7-5 lead. But Barnstable quickly responded with another impressive 6-0 run as senior Ashley McCarthy set up kills for teammates Riley James and Megan Dombrowski.
“She’s a great player,” Chaperon said of McCarthy, who finished the night with a match-high 23 assists for the Red Raiders. “There are really no flaws on that team. You look at their lineup and what kids present and every kid on that team presents a challenge. They’re really tough.”
Taunton climbed back into the set with a pair of kills from junior Sam Reaume and senior Alyssa Gibson, but Barnstable slowly broke away for a 25-12 win and a two-set advantage.
McCarthy and sophomore Caroline Brodt silenced Taunton in the third set to seal the win. McCarthy had six assists, a kill and an ace in the set while the Red Raiders won eleven consecutive service points from Brodt, including two aces.
“A lot of teams, you’ve got to keep them out of systems so they can’t get into attacks,” Barnstable head coach Tom Turco, who is in his 28th year, said. “[Brodt] did a good job. I thought our serve-receive people passed the ball pretty well tonight.”
In addition to the 23 helpers, McCarthy added six digs and four kills for Barnstable. James led the Red Raiders with 12 kills while Danielle Derosier had nine digs and four aces. Brodt also finished with four aces and Sollows had ten kills in the win.
Taunton senior Molly Sullivan had a match-best 15 digs while senior setter Tatum Speicher had a team-high 12 assists. Moor recorded six kills and Kistner added 10 digs for the Tigers.
“I thought our defensive game plan was pretty good,” Chaperon said. “I thought we were able to dig up some of their shots. It was some of those tips and weird shots they were able to get off us rather than those big booming shots that we saw on tape and in person.”
Barnstable, winners of six-straight sectional tournaments, will face Concord-Carlisle in the Division 1 state semi-final as the program searches for its 17th state championship in 22 years.

Tigers Sweep Mansfield, Advance to South Semifinal

Taunton volleyball
Taunton celebrates a poitn during its 3-0 win over league champion Mansfield on Monday night in the D1 South quarterfinal. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

By Josh Perry, Managing Editor

MANSFIELD, Mass. – The crowd was packed into the stands on both sides of the net, hurling taunts and cheering on their respective teams. It was an atmosphere that the boys’ basketball teams would be thrilled to get this winter.

The home half of the crowd was noticeably quieter in the third set, as Taunton took control. The Tigers, who already led the match 2-0, took a 14-6 lead after a strong serve by Alyssa Gibson (five kills, two blocks). The wheels had come off for the Hornets and the season seemed destined to end.

However, the first-time league champions would lay down and let the season end without a fight. Meg Hill (10 kills) had a pair of blocks and three massive kills from her spot in the middle and Sarah Mullahy added two kills. Jessica Haradon won a service point and suddenly it was 20-20 and the noise in the Albertini Gym was deafening.

Twice Taunton got within a point of the win and twice Mansfield held on. Finally, Molly Sullivan hit a dipping serves that the Hornets could not return and the Tigers took the third set for a 3-0 (25-21, 25-19, 29-27) victory and advanced to the Div. 1 South semifinal.

“We told our kids in a timeout that they’re going to keep fighting,” said Taunton coach Toby Chaperon. “They’re not a team that’s just going to sit back and let themselves get beat.”

He added, “I give all the credit to my coaches and my kids. Sometimes at the high school level you put in a game plan and you try to execute and it just doesn’t work out…this time it did.”

The Tigers came into the game looking to generate more offense than what they achieved last time out against the Hornets. Mansfield swept that match 3-0, so Chaperon moved Aimee Kistner from the middle to the outside to get more offense going. It worked and Kistner led the team with 11 kills and added eight digs.

“Aimee Kistner just played unreal. She hit the ball well,” said Chaperon. About the switch of positions, he added, “Maybe that threw them off just enough to keep them on their heels.”

Early in the game it was Gibson that provided the spark with several big blocks and kills in the middle and Sam Reaume and Emily Moor chipped in with big plays. The balanced attack at the net made Taunton difficult to matchup with.

“We had four girls over 100 kills,” said Chaperon. “We know girls, when we call upon them, can get the job done.”

Mansfield coach Melissa Heeden thought her team started well enough, with Mullahy having a strong first set, but then the passing slipped and the hitting dropped as a result. She also credited a strong Taunton defense, which was led by Sullivan and Meghan Navarro who combined for 10 digs.

“We started hitting and blocking okay in the beginning,” said Heeden, “but once our passing was a little off enough for us not to be able to hit that threw us off a little bit.”

In the third set, Heeden turned to her seniors to lead the team. As she talked about the senior class, the coach struggled to hold back tears and noted that the group of six players was still huddled together by the net well after the match had ended.

She said, “We struggled in serve/receive tonight, we struggled in passing…we had two girls getting hurt in the middle of it…but for them to deal with all of that and for them to just push through was huge. They just kept fighting.”

Reflecting on the crowd, the noise, and the fact that one of the few empty baners hanging in the gym will next fall have a year placed on it, Heeden remarked, “Five years ago you would ever have packed a gym like this. I looked around at the beginning of the game and was just so proud that it was a basketball-like atmosphere.”

In the midst of the loss, senior setter Cathryn Heavey reached a milestone. She had 27 assists in the match, which moved her past the 1,000 assist mark for her career. Her counterpart Tatum Speicher had 26 assists on the night.

Chaperon likewise appreciated the opportunity to coach in this type of game. In his 10th year in charge, this is the first time that he has had a team reach the postseason.

“I turned to my coaches and said this is what it’s all about,” Chaperon said. “Two good teams, great crowd, excitement, energy…it’s fun.”

Now, he hopes the Tigers can continue to move forward and make more history for the program. He said, “We knew that we had a special group of girls and hopefully we can push on.”

Taunton will travel to New Bedford on Thursday in the Div. 1 South semifinal. The Whalers swept the season series.

Josh Perry can be contacted at JoshPerry@hockomocksports.com and followed on Twitter at @Josh_Perry10.

Player of the Week – Tatum Speicher, Taunton Volleyball

playeroftheweek_2015_speicher

By HockomockSports.com Staff

Taunton senior setter Tatum Speicher has been selected as the HockomockSports.com Player of the Week for October 25th through October 31st; the eighth player chosen in the 2015 season and first volleyball player. Speicher became the first player in program history to get 1,000 assists, doing so in a win over King Philip.

Speicher hit the milestone in the deciding fourth set against the Warriors, an impressive bump set from off of the court for the first kill. Taunton won the match 30-28, 27-25, 20-25, 26-24 and Speicher finished with 34 assists.

“Tatum is the kind of player that leaves it all on the court,” head coach Toby Chaperon said, “As evidenced by her injury at North, she will sacrifice her body to make a play for her team. She is a great leader as well as she rarely gets rattled and will always find a way to pick up her teammates.”

In Taunton’s second match of the week (a 3-0 setback to Mansfield), Speicher had 25 assists, five digs and a pair of service points against the Hornets. She has 1055 career assists with almost half (498) coming this Fall.

“She also has fun as she is usually smiling and using that positive energy to keep her teammates loose,” Chaperon said.

Taunton finished the regular season 12-8 in what was the most competitive Kelley-Rex division since the split and one of the toughest seasons in the past decade. The Tigers qualified for the postseason for the first time in over a decade.

Player of the Week is selected by the HockomockSports.com staff. Nominations can be submitted throughout the week up until Saturday night at midnight. There will be a poll posted on every Sunday with the nominations. The results of the poll influence the selection but do not strictly dictate the decision.