Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Melrose - Westborough Photoessay

Photos courtesy of Don Norris. Click images to enlarge.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014


You play the chalk?

Click to enlarge the bracket.

The only game that matters is Saturday night when Melrose will host the Burlington/Greater Lowell winner.

Tournament facts:

The Middlesex League places five teams (Melrose, Belmont, Winchester, Stoneham, and Burlington) in the D2 North sectionals. Among other ML teams, Winchester has an excellent chance to advance to the Semis on the right side of the bracket.

Weston carries the leading hitter and setter (the Ardila sisters) into the tournament.

Bishop Fenwick has played well recently. Don't underestimate them and their excellent coaching by Adam DeBaggis.

Melrose looks to advance to the D2 North finals for the twelfth consecutive year.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Game 22: Westborough 3 Melrose 1

In one of my correspondences earlier this year, I remarked, "don't sleep on Westborough." Tonight they brought a diversified attack, including back row hitting, quick sets, and slide attacks and outlasted Melrose 25-14, 25-23, 22-25, and 25-23.

It was Senior Night, with the usual pageantry and decorations. Underclassmen presented a flower to each Westborough senior, and read tributes to a senior. Coach Celli recognized senior scorer Meg Tryder, and introduced seniors Amanda Cain, Ashley Harding, Stephanie Crovo, Meri Lessing, and Allie Nolan, as well as their parents.

They simply made more plays and fewer errors than Melrose and emerged with their second win over Melrose in the past three meetings.

After Melrose scored the opening two points of the set, Westborough dominated set one, leading 6-2 before Melrose got even at eight. But Melrose was relying too often on errors rather than winners as the Rangers brought double blocks from everywhere. The back row, including Amanda Cain, Ashley Harding, Victoria Crovo, and Marissa Cataldo had their hands full.

From there, Westborough went up 12-8 and Melrose never got closer than three (16-13), before the visitors closed out Melrose with a 9-1 run. Four service errors were costly and Melrose managed only four kills in the first set.

The Lady Raiders mustered more offense and competition in the second stanza. Melrose turned a 3-0 deficit into 4-3 and 7-5 leads, but the teams traded ties at 7, 9, 11 and 12 before Melrose went up 16-12. But a Westborough timeout snuffed out Melrose's momentum, and they went up 18-16. Melrose leveled it at eighteen on a Marissa Cataldo kill, and trailing 22-20, Melrose got even at 22, only to see Westborough go up 24-22, before Hannah Mulcahey struck back with a kill, only to see the Rangers take the set point.

Melrose had eleven kills including three for Victoria Crovo, two for Allie Nolan, Marissa, and Meri Lessing.

Melrose fought back strongly, coming out of the box 5-0, only to see the Rangers rally to within one at 6-5. Four Victoria Crovo kills in the first eight points fueled the rally, but Westborough garnered ties at 7, 8, 9 10, and 11 before the Lady Raiders went up 14-11 behind a pair of Cat Torpey kills and one from Meri.

Melrose nursed narrow leads at 17-13 and 18-14, but the Rangers got within one at 19-18 before widening the lead to 24-19. Even then, Westy wouldn't go away, getting to within a pair, before Melrose scored the final point to narrow the match to 2-1.

The 'V-Rex' Victoria had five kills abetted by a pair from Cat and Meri.

Melrose looked to level the match in set four but is was not to be. Westy led 6-2 and 7-4, and the comebacks drained Melrose, which finally got even at ten, with hard hitting from Meri and Hannah contributing. Westborough ran off four straight only to see Melrose respond with three. Melrose kept climbing uphill until they deadlocked the score at 18. The Rangers then led 20-18, only to see the home squad go up 21-20 with kills from Marissa and Meri.

Out of a Ranger timeout, Melrose had a costly service error, and the visitors followed that up with a pair to go up 23-21, only to see Melrose even the score at 23. But the energy expenditure of comeback finally caught up with Melrose as the Rangers simply outgunned Melrose down the stretch.

Game analysis: although Melrose struggled at times, as Westborough got the better of the net play, Coach Scott Celli noted that the team was still within two points of taking the match to five sets. I felt that it wasn't just the hitting edge that the Rangers enjoyed, but Melrose's inconsistency making routine plays (serve receives and digs) that they customarily make.

Lady Raider Notes: The last time Melrose lost its final game on Senior Night to Newton North, the team ran the table and emerged with a State Championship in 2012.

After the game, Coach Celli announced playoff callups (Emily DePietro, Julie Simmons, Jill Mercer, and Saoirse Connolly) and acknowledged the JV on their excellent 21-1 season. Congratulations to the team and the individuals who have an opportunity to contribute to post-season success.

Proving Ground

Barnstable got upset by Newton North, moving Melrose up in the Globe rankings. Of course, the only poll that matters is the post-season tournament.

Top Central contender Westborough visits tonight for Senior Night. It should be a great night of volleyball. The match is scheduled for 630 at the Veterans Memorial Middle School.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Game 21: Melrose 3 Wakefield 0

Melrose completed a clean sweep of the Middlesex League schedule with a 25-7, 25-7 25-5 home victory over Wakefield.  The win brings Melrose to 20-1 and sets the stage for a dramatic confrontation Monday on Senior Night against Westborough, one of the top teams in Massachusetts.

Melrose never trailed in the match.

In the opening set, the Lady Raiders led 5-1 and 11-1, with three early kills from Meri Lessing. From 16-6, the team closed out the Warriors with a 9-1 spurt.

Meri had four kills and Hannah Mulcahey a pair and Allie Nolan had three aces as the team went service error free.

Melrose got off to a slightly less torrid start (12-6) in the second set, but then accelerated down the stretch with a 13-1 run.

Meghan Leyne (3), Marissa Cataldo (3) and Victoria Crovo (2) did a lot of the damage with a lot of great sets from Allie.

Melrose had a pair of service errors.

The final frame saw Melrose garner the opening seven points and then lead 14-2. Meghan had another big set with four kills, Marissa added a pair, while Cat Torpey, Bella Federico, and freshman setter Lily Fitzgerald all chipped in one. Again Melrose went service-error free.

Available Middlesex League standings from

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

*Game 20: Melrose 3 Burlington 0

Scores from Dick Collis*

Melrose moved within one game of completing an undefeated ML season, defeating Burlington on the road, 25-13, 25-21, 25-14.

The win brings Melrose's record to 19-1 and a victory at home Friday against Wakefield would seal another 20 win season.

Data from

Stat Leaders:



Meri Lessing checks in at 30 in total kills, Victoria Crovo at 52, and Hannah Mulcahey at 73. Both Meri and Hannah have missed time this season with illness or injury holding their numbers down.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Game 19: Melrose 3 AC 2

Travel to the bandbox at Arlington Catholic is never easy. Tonight was no exception as Melrose survived the Cougars attack with a hard-fought 25-20, 19-25, 25-19, 23-25. 16-14 victory.

The win lifts Melrose's record to 18-1 and sets Melrose in the driver's seat for a one seed in the Division 2 North tournament.

The first set saw ties at 2, 3, 5, 9, 10, 11, and 12 until Melrose took the lead for good at 14-12. From 14-13, Melrose had a five point run feature Allie Nolan serving and a trio of kills by Victoria Crovo to lead 19-13, and AC never got closer than three as Melrose finished them out with a pair of Meri Lessing kills.

Melrose had an unofficial eleven first set kills including three apiece for Victoria and Meri, and a pair from Cat Torpey and Allie.

The Lady Raiders opened set two with a quick 6-2 advantage, only to see AC fight back to even the score at nine and forecasting ties at 10, 11, 15, and 16. From there, AC launched a 9-3 offensive to finish the frame.

Numerous AC blocks frustrated Melrose, but Meri fired home another three kills and Victoria a pair.

Set three began with back-and-forth action leading to a deadlock at seven, only to see a service run from libero Amanda Cain open a 15-7 lead. Melrose ran its edge to 24-14, but AC wouldn't go easily, scoring five consecutive points to regain momentum before succumbing 25-19.

Marissa Cataldo led the offense in the stanza with three kills and Meri banged home a pair.

The fourth set saw neither team lead by more than three points at any time. An unlucky thirteen times the teams tied, the first at three and the last at twenty-three. Noteworthy were Fibonacci series ties at 3, 5, 8, 13, and 21. Three service errors proved costly for Melrose as AC scored the final two points to break the final tie and send the match into a decisive fifth set. Meri had another four kills and Hannah Mulcahey added three.

The fifth set saw a gut check from Melrose, including the wire-to-wire play from Allie and Victoria, and more offensive heroics from Meri (four kills).

AC took the early edge at 2-0, but Melrose responded with four to go up 4-2. To and fro, neither team could seize a decisive edge, with ties at six and seven before the Cougars led 10-8, only to see Melrose answer with another run of four to go up 12-10, but AC rallied to knot the set at thirteen and fourteen. With Melrose leading 15-14, Meri deliver the decisive winner to give Melrose the win. Division 2 rankings.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Melrose - Stoneham Photoessay

A lot of action snaps from Don Norris.