Friday, September 29, 2006

Where There's Wilmington, There's a Way, Melrose 3-1

The Lady Raiders took to the road to face a North Shore League opponent from the Cape Ann League, traveling to Wilmington. Wilmington started fast taking Game 1, 25-19, as Melrose had trouble gaining consistency with the dig-set-spike triad essential to winning volleyball.

But the Lady Raiders V-ballers rebounded smartly to overwhelm their hosts, winning the next three games 25-10, 25-4, and 25-4.

Wilmington has struggled this season in the CAL, A combination of solid defense, consistent service, and Wilmington inefficiency gave Melrose the victory. Melrose got particularly good serving from Allie Broussard and freshman Hannah Brickley as they ran their overall record to 6-1.

Lady Raider Notes: The volleyballers host a car wash from 10-2 P.M. Saturday at the Melrose High School parking lot. Come out and support your team.

Melrose moves into a rugged part of the schedule, hosting Hamilton-Wenham at Roosevelt School Gymnasium at 4 P.M. Tuesday, before facing Andover and North Andover away Thursday and Friday.

Thanks to Superfan Dick Collas for game highlights and scores.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Lady Raiders Coast in "The Igloo"

Bishop Fenwick opened Boston College in 1827, and following deteriorating relationships with the Boston authorities, moved his college in 1843 to Worcester, founding Holy Cross. His namesake, Bishop Fenwick High School visited the Lady Raiders today at "The Igloo" and got a warm, but brief reception from the Melrose Volleyballers.

The Lady Raiders, (4-1 Middlesex League, 5-1 Overall) recovering smartly from Friday's loss to Reading, put together a trio of solid games, winning 25-8, 25-14, and 25-12. Fenwick brought a group of hustling defenders, but struggled offensively, as Melrose maintained constant pressure throughout.

A solid team effort characterized the victory, led by consistent service (particularly strong by Kelsey Quinn), defense by Co-Captain Laura Dillon at libero, net defense by Leslie Hirschfeld, and some thunderous kills by Nicole Glavin, becoming a dominant offensive force at Middle Hitter. No weak links in the chain today, as everyone contributed.

Coach Celli was pleased to note continuing improvement as the team gains experience.

Melrose travels to Wilmington High School Friday to face off against the North Shore League rival.

Outside hitter Lauren Howe goes up for the spike.

Speaking of SPIKING (hitting tips from the Internet...lost the URL)


adjustments must be made behind the 3m (spike line) - once inside 3m line = full speed toward net

  1. weight on right foot (left foot can be behind or in front of right foot)

  2. first step with left foot (weight goes to left leg)

3. second step is a sideways step - step down when ball is in setter

  1. third long step almost at net - step to ball so it is at peak above right shoulder

  2. keep ball ahead of hitter - hitter must chase ball

  3. when starting third step- arms back (like wings)

  4. lift up - arms break at elbows

  5. feet slightly wider than knees

  6. when toes leave floor be ready to hit

  7. hips can torque (turn) into ball
The key points include the momentum derived by moving into the net, the arm swing into the lift, preparing for the perfect spike.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

More Photos from Melrose-Reading

The team's the thing. Coach Celli gives the Lady Raiders some pregame instructions.

Dig it? Sam Hamel dives after a Reading spike to dig it.
Basketball captains Sheylani Peddy and Lynley DeAmato show their appreciation for the V-Ballers' efforts.
Text directly from the AVCA.ORG site:

Middle blockers have, in my opinion, the toughest assignment in the game of volleyball. They are responsible for protecting against all quick attacks in the middle zones of the net, yet are also expected to close and form tight blocks against all outside attacks.

Statistical analysis of the data confirmed that the slide step yielded significantly faster movement times than either the cross-over or the jab cross-over... Volleyball blocking jumping is somewhat unique in that the blocker is prohibited from using an extensive armswing because of the proximity to the net. Although several investigators have reported that a vigorous armswing may improve vertical jumping performance by about 10 percent, this finding is of little benefit to the volleyball blocker.

The only way to make sure that the net is sealed, therefore, is to penetrate the net early -- well before the attacker begins the forward armswing...blockers can get off the ground faster, without sacrificingjump height, by using a short, half-step approach prior to the upward phase of the jump. This may allow the blocker to penetrate the net earlier and improve the chances of blocking the ball.


Spread your fingers, point your thumbs toward the ceiling, and watch the hitter's swing...a "soft block" -- which deflects the ball upwards into your own court and gives your team an easy ball to pass -- is almost as good as a stuff block. Acknowledge teammates for good soft blocks.

Here Leslie Hirschfeld gets well over the net, penetrates the opponent's airspace, and has good finger spread.
___________________________________________________________________Kelsey Quinn and Lauren Howe substitute.
___________________________________________________________________Sam Hamel is a model of concentration as a back row defender.
Melrose celebrates successful team work. From left, Lauren Howe, Nicole Glavin, Taylor Pearson, Sam Hamel, Gina Ciccone, and Leslie Hirschfeld.
Many thanks to Don Norris for photography.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

More Lady Raiders Up Close

Lady Raiders go up to block, while Rachel Towle (27) moves in to cover. Taylor Pearson is behind the block.
___________________________________________________________________Rachel Towle (27) and Sam Hamel make a substitution.
___________________________________________________________________Middle Hitter Nicole Glavin knows 'why do we play?' "Because we like it."
___________________________________________________________________Part of having a consistently successful team is attracting and teaching young players the game. Coach Celli instructs and the Melrose volleyball program continues to grow because of the younger players. Hannah Brickley is the first Melrose freshman to get significant playing time since the 2002 season. Melrose fans look forward to seeing a lot of the Class of 2010 in the future.
___________________________________________________________________Fundamental net play slows down the opposition spikers, who often try to hit over or around the double block. Leslie Hirshfeld (foreground) and another Lady Raider go up high over the net to stymie a Reading attack.
Photographs courtesy of Don Norris.

Meet the Lady Raiders

Photographs courtesy of Linda Hall and Don Norris.

Laura Dillon, Senior Co-captain, Defensive Specialist


Taylor Pearson, Senior, Setter.
________________________________________________ Sam Hamel, Senior, Defensive Specialist

________________________________________________Gina Ciccone, Junior, Opposite, Defensive Specialist

Leslie Hirschfeld, Junior, Middle Hitter.


Allie Broussand (foreground), Junior, Defensive Specialist

Kelsey Quinn, (background), Senior, Defensive Specialist

________________________________________________Lauren Howe, Junior, Outside Hitter


Editor's Note: Photographs are posted as available. The webmasters attempt to provide the best still or action photos we have available. If we don't have an acceptable photograph or your daughter, relative, friend, or opponent, then we won't post 'unacceptable' ones. What's unacceptable? We know it when we see it. If you have better photos, please get in touch with Coach Celli, the Back Row Boys, or Ron and Ellen Sen, and we'll include some of them.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Lady Raiders Fall to Reading, 3-1

Melrose and Reading both came in undefeated in Middlesex League play at 4-0, with Reading's sole loss to 2005 Division I runnerup Andover. Reading fielded the size and experience advantage, while Melrose enjoyed home court advantage in "The Igloo", Roosevelt School Gymnasium The fans responded, packing the gym, with standing (and floor seat) room only as the ML's top two volleyball squads renewed their rivalry. Melrose brought a regular season winning streak of 24 games into the contest.

Melrose took the early lead, jumping out to a quick start to lead 15-8. Rachel Towle and Nicole Glavin came up big with both slams and solid blocking. But Reading continued to apply pressure, with solid back row play, feeding their setter who, as predicted, dished out sets to the flanks. Melrose hung on to win Game 1, 25-21.

Game 2 was evenly played, with neither team assuming a commanding lead. Reading's Meredith Gent had a few key blows for the Rockets, and Melrose spread around their scoring. Ultimately the Rockets delivered more offensive points (versus unforced errors) and Reading prevailed 25-23.

Game 3 remained similarly competitive, with Reading leading 11-8 before Melrose knotted the score at 13. Taylor Pearson, Melrose Weekly's "Athlete of the Work" continued to shine at setter, and the back row defense including Gina Ciccone (returning from injury), Laura Dillon, and Sam Hamel had all they could do to containing Reading's potent offense. Ultimately, it wasn't enough and Reading captured Game 3, 25-22.

Melrose continued to fend off the Rockets' offense in Game 4, taking leads of 13-10 and 21-14 on a mixture of Glavine, Towle, and Leslie Hirschfeld kills, and Rocket errors. Reading Coach Andrew Viselli took a strategic time out at 21-14, and his team responded with renewed vigor, scoring repeatedly on Melrose 'overpasses', closing the gap to 21-20. Although Melrose battled, Reading took the lead at 24-23, before the Lady Raiders were able to even it at 24. A missed serve by Melrose gave Reading the lead 25-24, and on a close call, Melrose was called for touching the net on a volley, giving Reading their first victory over Melrose in the past four meetings.

Reading's Laura Greichen was solid defensively, and they enjoyed a balanced attack. Nicole Glavin had her best performance as a Lady Raider as she rapidly gains assurance in her power game.

Although Melrose didn't come out with the victory, the game provided a good test, showed the Lady Raiders where they need to improve, and gave fans one of the more competitive regular season contests. Coach Scott Celli noted that the team continues to improve and gain valuable confidence and experience.

Melrose's team continues to improve its passing and overall coordination, and plans to use defense, serving consistency, and teamwork to full advantage this year.

Score by Games Summary

Melrose-- 25 23 22 24

Reading-- 21 25 25 26

Lady Raiders celebrate a point against Stoneham. From left, Laura Dillon (15), Sam Hamel (4), Lauren Howe, Allie Brussard (10), Nicole Glavin (13), and Taylor Pearson (1).

Faces in the Crowd. Among the full house at Roosevelt were Melrose AD Pat Ruggiero, football's Jon Needham who received a full scholarship to Duke University, Melrose's own "Back Row Boys", and basketball captains All-Scholastic Sheylani Peddy and Lynley DeAmato. We're sure the Lady Raiders appreciate the great outpouring of fan support.

Although the rivalry between Melrose and Reading has been intense, numerous Reading parents complemented Melrose's teams on their competitiveness and sportsmanship, and Melrose feels the same about the Rockets' program.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

First Half of League Play Finishes Friday for Lady Raiders

Six teams field volleyball teams in the Middlesex League - Belmont, Burlington, Lexington, Melrose, Reading, and Stoneham. For the past three seasons, Melrose and Reading have battled for the league title, and the 2006 season promises to be more of the same.

Friday the Lady Rockets travel to the Roosevelt School with a tall, veteran squad looking to hand Melrose its first defeat of the season. Coach Andrew Viselli remains a fixture on the local volleyball scene, coaching both Reading and having coached the St. John's Prep Eagles boys' volleyball team to a State Title and been Coach of the Year in the Middlesex League. Reading returns a pair of All-Stars in Meredith Gent and Laura Greichen.

Historically, Reading has favored an outside attack, mixing in "one-ball" attack, and often resorts to double-blocking middle hitters. At times they have even tried to put up triple blocks to stop Melrose's middle attack. What the Lady Rockets have brought annually is a tall, competitive team that like Melrose plays fundamentally sound volleyball.

The varsity match lines up at 4 P.M. Friday (September 22nd) with the JV to follow.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Melrose Volleyball in Pictures

Photos courtesy of Don Norris, photographer and volleyball afficionado (played in the Nationals twice), Melrose volleyball goes on display.

Allie Brussard warms up with some 'bumping' before the game.
___________________________________________________________________ Melrose coach Scott Celli exchanges pleasantries with counterparts from Stoneham.
___________________________________________________________________ Ace server Kelsey Quinn winds up to deliver.
___________________________________________________________________For whom the serve Towles...Rachel Towle delivers a smash into the Stoneham court.
___________________________________________________________________Leslie Hirschfeld gets a view to a kill here, with the watchful eyes of Sam Hamel (4), Lauren Howe at the net, and setter Taylor Pearson (1).
___________________________________________________________________Rachel Towle goes skyward for another kill, surrounded by Melrose defenders.
___________________________________________________________________Nicole Glavin's play has also been a 'smashing' success this season, as the junior steps up to fill the gap left by graduation of Melrose's 'Three Slamigos', Jen Cohane, Karen and Paula Sen.
___________________________________________________________________Dee-fense. As in Dillon. Laura Dillon. Captain Laura steps in to make a perfect pass to the frontline for the classic "bump-set-spike."
___________________________________________________________________Put this one in the books. Sam Hamel (4) congratulates Nicole Glavin (13), and in the back, an unsung hero, freshman Hannah Brickley (25) who made her first varsity start. Only two things left to do...
___________________________________________________________________Shake hands and get ready for always tough Reading on Friday.
Melrose's 4-0 start runs their record for the past four seasons to 70-7, not too shabby. A big crowd at Roosevelt School Gymnasium at 4 P.M. Friday would show terrific support for this hard-working group of young ladies.

Many thanks again to Don Norris for taking, preparing, and delivering these shots.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Melrose Goes to 4-0, Tops Stoneham

I do believe in you

And I know you believe in me

Oh yeah

Oh yeah

And now we realize

Love's not all that it's supposed to be

Oh yeah, Oh yeah

And knowing that you would have wanted it this way

I do believe I'm feelin' stronger every day

--Feeling Stronger Every Day, by Chicago

The Melrose Lady Raiders took the volleyball show on the road for the third time in four outings, challenging a tough Stoneham Lady Spartan team that had defeated Dracut 3-2 the previous day. The 'Athens' of volleyball proved too much for Stoneham, a speedbump on Victory Highway, as Melrose emerged with a straight game 3-0 win to remain unbeaten (4-0 Middlesex League, 4-0 Overall).

Melrose continues to fight the illness and injury bug, as Gina Ciccone remains out and Taylor Pearson played despite feeling under the weather. Gina is a key player from last year's 24-1 team, and many regard her as underrated for her overall play. Taylor fills Amanda Hallett's big shoes, Hallett holding Melrose's single season assist record at setter. But with illness comes opportunity, and many players stepped up to fill the gap and perform admirably.

Melrose and Stoneham contested Game 1 hotly throughout. Melrose led 11-10 on the strength of some acrobatic kills from Lauren Howe from the outside, but Stoneham came roaring back to seize the lead 19-17. Melrose had good fortune as Stoneham struggled from the service line in the first game. A long rally ensued with Melrose capturing the pint and regamining the serve. Leslie Hirschfeld served up to 24-20, but again Stoneham would not break, knotting the contest at 24-24. Lauren Howe delivered a key blow with a strong kill to take the lead at 25-24 and a Stoneham return error gave Melrose the game. Freshman Hannah Brickley got her first varsity start and played error-free ball in the game. Nicole Glavin also added solid blocking and hitting from the middle.

Game 2 seemed destined to be under Melrose control, as they raced out to a 12-6 lead, sparked by thunderous smashes from the outside by Rachel Towle. Melrose held the lead at 14-8 before their hosts rallied to bring it to 14-11 before another Glavin overhead triggered a run to 17-11. Never wilting, Stoneham rallied to 21-18, hefore Leslie Hirschfeld produced a monster block to give the Lady Raiders the lead at 22-18. Leslie continued her fine play with a kill for the 24th point, and another unforced error gave Melrose the win at 25-21.

The third game tested Melrose's mettle, as they trailed 8-3 before Coach Scott Celli took a strategic time out.. The magic wasn't immediate, as Stoneham expanded the lead to 10-3 with an exhausting rally. However, a key Melrose run, sparked by defense from Sam Hamel and Laura Dillon from the back got Melrose back to trailing 13-10. The game was not without controversy, as Stoneham mysteriously scored an 'extra' point following a 'do-over' point as the basketball hoop was out of bounds. The call energized Melrose as the burst to a 17-14 lead on some strong serves by Leslie, and at 19-17 Stoneham made a costly service into the net. At 20-17, a Nicole Glavin punished a Spartan 'overpass' with a dynamic putback, and Hannah Brickley got some varsity scorebook action with a pair of kills and a beautiful assist to Leslie to bring the game to 24-19. Yet another Stoneham unforced error ended the contest, Melrose winning 26-24, 25-21, and 25-19.

Coach Celli noted that "we played well...everyone contributed" and "nobody had a bad game." Allie Brussard got extended action in the back row as well, delivering some crisp passes and Taylor Pearson looked spent at the end from the combination of effort and illness. Kelsey Quinn has developed the reputation as Melrose's best server. Stoneham showed dramatic improvement in back row defense, but demonstrated inconsistent offense.

As the season progresses, Melrose has shown service consistency that some other Melrose teams struggled to achieve, improving toughness at the net, and the hallmark of Melrose Volleyball, toughness and competitiveness, and the ability to deliver at key moments.

The Junior Varsity spanked the Spartans in straight games as the young Lady Raiders show a lot of athleticism and effort.

Friday brings the biggest challenge of the young season, as the always tall, always tenacious Lady Rockets invade Roosevelt School Gymnasium at 4 p.m. Coach Andrew Viselli always brings an aggressive and talented team to Melrose and the rivalry goes back years. In 2002, Melrose defeated Reading late to help qualify for the tournament. In 2004, Melrose won an epic final game 37-35 at Daffinee Gym, and beat Reading at Reading for the right to play in the Division II North Championship. In between, Reading demolished Melrose at the Masco Jamboree to go into the tournament as the favorite. Last season, Melrose turned the tables, as Reading's 'Get 'em' poster featuring a target of some Melrose standouts got turned into 'Got 'em' as Melrose grounded the Rockets twice. There's no doubt that both squads will arrive loaded for bear, looking for bragging rights and the lead in the league standings.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

One Small Step for Mass

All the leaves are brown
And the sky is gray
I've been for a walk
On a winter's day

I'd be safe and warm
If I was in L.A.
California dreamin'
On such a winter's day
--California Dreamin' (The Mamas and the Papas)

Volleyball was invented in Massachusetts, and they still play a little here. Three time state Division I Champion Barnstable, winner of 76 consecutive games, held up Massachusetts' end of the deal with a rout of Beverly Hills, California yesterday at Marshfield.

Last season Barnstable topped Andover in straight games to capture the state title, and Melrose had handed Division I North champion a loss at Dunn Gym in Andover.

Melrose faces Andover later this season in a rematch.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Melrose Volleyball: Reloading Not Rebuilding

The Melrose Lady Raiders girls volleyball team has cultivated a tradition of excellence, and in doing so become one of the best programs in Massachusetts in attracting and developing players. In the past three seasons Melrose has had three players (Marianne Foley, Karen Sen, Paula Sen) named to the Boston Globe All-Scholastics and two players voted All-State by the Massachusetts Girls Volleyball Coaches Association. What better way to celebrate the team than developing a forum to report on their progress?

The 2006 Lady Raiders seek to continue their dominance of the Division II North section, a tall order against uber-talented veteran teams like Arlington Catholic, North Andover, and Central Catholic.

Head Coach Scott Celli and Assistant Coach Steve Wall have always focused on a few principles -
make the game fun, win now, and develop for the future. Part of Celli's philosophy has included consistent communication with players and parents about setting expectations for standards on and off the court. He has also provided opportunities for players of any age to assume prominent playing and leadership roles.

This summer Celli began a summer development camp for girls in Melrose and sixty-nine girls age 6-14 enrolled for one to two weeks to get and introduction to volleyball skills and tactics. We're sure that will pay dividends for the future of Melrose volleyball.

Coming off Melrose's first trip to the State Volleyball Finals last season, some thought that Melrose would need to rebuild. But the Lady Raiders have other ideas having won their first two games on the road (Belmont and Lexington), before opening up at home (Roosevelt School Gymnasium) against Burlington. Captains Rachel Towle (outside) and Laura Dillon (libero, defense) provide experience and leadership, starter Gina Ciccone returns in her versatile role, and everyone on the ten player roster contributes on the floor.

Yesterday, the Lady Raiders hosted second year program Burlington and ran their record to 3-0 with a convincing three game victory over the Lady Devils. Melrose played shorthanded as Gina Ciccone was out with injury and Sam Hamel unavailable. Melrose got off to a sluggish start, leading 11-10 before Coach Celli called a key timeout to regroup. Melrose then closed out the match 25-10, running off 14 consecutive points, in part from the outstanding serving of Kelsey "Mighty" Quinn.

Melrose carried the momentum into the second game, with an additional 15 consecutive points on Quinn serves, as she threatened to break Marianne Foley's school record of 28 consecutive serves, achieved at Hamilton Wenham in 2003. Burlington couldn't survive the onslaught of service aces mixed in with solid hitting from Towle, Nicole Glavin, and Lauren Howe, courtesy of Taylor Pearson's consistent setting. Leslie Hirschfeld brought some solid defense to center court as well with a couple of key blocks. Melrose captured the second game 25-5.

The third game brought similar results, with Melrose on top 25-9. Consistent back row defense from Laura Dillon was the key in game three with more scintillating hitting.

Next week Melrose travels to Stoneham and hosts archrival Reading, which boasts the Middlesex League's tallest and most experienced team.

Volleyball news and notes. Faces in the crowd yesterday included several of the 'Back Row Boys', some of Melrose athletics most recognized fans and Principal Dan Burke.

In an interstate challenge, Beverly Hills High School of California travels to Marshfield to square off against perennial state champion Barnstable. Barnstable puts its 74 game winning streak on the line, seeking competition from across the nation to assess where Massachusetts volleyball stands against a California powerhouse.

Alumni News.

(from the Emmanuel website) Andrea Basteri ended her four-year career with the Saints having played on two conference championship teams and accumulating amazing statistics. Some of her more impressive numbers include a career total of 835 kills, 429 blocks (256 solo & 173 assisted), and 291 service aces. Basteri finished 2nd in the conference in blocks per game this season and was ranked 27th nationally in the category with 1.35 per game. She was named to the GNAC Weekly Honor Roll twice during the season and received 2nd Team All-Conference honors.

Erin Hudd, a junior at UMass Lowell is a force for the Northeast 10 leading River Hawks (3-0 league, 6-5 overall). Erin has 1.88 kills/game, fourth on the team, and 0.55 blocks/game, second on the team.
Amanda Hallett, who holds the single season setting record at Melrose, now plays for Richard Casali's Framingham State team (4-0). Amanda came off the bench in FSC's opener in the 5th game to spark FSC to a fifth set victory over Babson.