Tuesday, October 31, 2006
Enjoy the show.
Monday, October 30, 2006
Nobody knew exactly what to expect coming into the season, with Melrose facing a schedule including solid Middlesex League teams, North Reading, defending Division III finalist, North Andover which appeared in last year's Division II North finals, always tough Lynnfield, improving Hamilton-Wenham, and non-league contests against powerhouses Andover, AC, and Central Catholic. Most didn't expect sixteen wins, with four losses to teams with a total of four losses this season.
Melrose combined a stingy back row defense, relatively error-free service (one for the evening), and a big night from North Shore All-League player Rachel Towle to win big.
Melrose led Game 1 big, 22-12 and 24-14 before a late Chieftain surge brought Masco to 25-20. Melrose had only seven kills during the game, however, including five from Rachel Towle, under the microscope from college coaches in attendance.
Game 2 was more evenly balanced with Melrose leading early, and Masco refusing to go away. The Lady Raiders held 10-5 and 15-10 leads, but Masco went up 18-17 and 21-19, with power hitting from the middle. But Gina Ciccone had a service run (4) at the end, and Rachel added another six kills from Rachel. Melrose struggled with some vicious serves from Masco, which had several big servers.
Melrose played its best volleyball when needed in Game 3, another back-and-forth contest. With Melrose leading 19-17, the locals knotted the score at 19 and then teams exchanged points for nine consecutive points to brindg the score to 24-23 Melrose. A critical line call went Melrose's way at a key juncture as well. Melrose closed out the game as a Masco hitter's slam caromed off the antenna (out-of-bounds).
Score by Games
Melrose 25 25 25
Masco-- 20 22 23
Lady Raiders Notes: MMTV will broadcast the replay of tonight's game in the near future. Many thanks to Lydia Ciccone (camera), Dan Krechmer (production), and Dick Collis (statistics) for tonight's contest.
Amanda Hallett's coach, Tom Casale of Framingham State was in attendance, scouting and recruiting. Tom noted that Melrose has a strong program and relationship with Coach Celli and that he enjoys watching their players.
In addition to Rachel's recognition on the Best Six (All-League) team of the North Shore League, Co-Captain Laura Dillon and Gina Ciccone received recognition as Middlesex League All-Stars. Andrew Viselli of Reading received Coach of the Year honors, and Reading's Meredith Gent succeeded Melrose's Paula Sen as Player of the Year.
Kelly O'Neill and Laura Irwin received 'field' promotions to the Varsity for tonight's game. Kelly has shown poise and leadership for the JV this season, and Irwin is a powerful hitter who looks to become the latest in the Melrose tradition of outside hitters.
Friday, October 27, 2006
Reading's superior height and power proved decisive, led by Meredith Gent and Laura Greichen, despite a fantastic effort by the Lady Raiders, whose defensive gem fell short.
Melrose won Game 1 25-20, amidst thirteen kills, including six by middle hitter Leslie Hirschfeld. Reading went out fast 5-1, before Melrose tied the score at 9. Melrose gathered momentum, leading 14-11 on a service run by setter Taylor Pearson. The closest Reading could approach was withing two, when a flurry of Hirschfeld kills brough Melrose to a 24-20 win, with Taylor delivering the 'fake set' and kill.
Melrose jumped out fast in Game 2 behind a pair of Hannah Brickley kills. Melrose then extended the lead to 9-4 before the Rockets fought back to 13-10. But Rachel Towle sparked another run by Melrose, with four kills in five points as Melrose went up 18-13. Melrose continued their excellence down the stretch with another pair of Towle slams to close out the game 25-18. Rachel had five kills for the game.
But Reading regrouped at the break and simply overwhelmed Melrose in Game 3. Gent came out possessed and the Reading defense continually stuffed Melrose's offense. The Lady Raiders, with 24 kills in the first two games, were held to four in the third game, and Reading romped 25-11, although Melrose had a mini-run at the end.
Game 4 was more of a back-and-forth contest, but again Reading's defense stifled the Melrose offense, which delivered only a handful of kills, despite playing aggressively both at the net and the back. Laura Dillon was spectacular, and Sam Hamel terrific in the back fending off the Rocket attack. But the home team prevailed 25-20.
The fifth and deciding game is played to fifteen. The teams traded points to 6-6, before a pivotal call had a major impact on the game. Melrose defended brilliantly, forcing Laura Greichen to take an off-balance overhead from out-of-bounds, which she aimed down the line. Her smash went about eighteen inches wide of the antenna, but landed in bounds. Anything hit outside the antenna is out, but both officials were unable to make the call, and Melrose struggled to regain momentum, trailing 10-6. Melrose rallied back to 13-11, but Reading provided the clinchers, to take the game 15-11, and undisputed first place in the ML with a perfect 10-0 slate. Melrose finished their ML schedule 8-2, a pair of tough losses to Reading.
Today's match provided tournament-level pressure and competition from the Division I tournament-bound Rockets, experience that will help Melrose in the upcoming playoffs.
Coach Scott Celli was magnanimous in his praise of Reading following the game, and acknowledged that Melrose played both hard and well.
Lady Raider Notes: The Lady Raiders close out their regular season Monday at the Masconomet jamboree, with their game on tap at 5 p.m., with league awards presented following the contests.
Lydia Ciccone filmed the game, which will appear on MMTV (Launch Channel 15 in the near future).
Thursday, October 26, 2006
The Melrose-Reading rivalry goes back for quite awhile, with Melrose winning the series in 2003 (2-0), beating Reading in the Division II North semis in 2004 to capture the series (2-1), and Melrose handling the Rockets (2-0) in 2005. Numerous players from the programs have played with and against each other in Junior Olympics, leading to spirited competition.
Reading has promised to get its fans there early, to try to 'lock out' the Melrose fans, so if you want a seat for the four o'clock game at Coolidge Middle School across from the High School, you'll need to be there early.
Lady Raider Notes: Lydia Ciccone is leading the drive to publish a volleyball cookbook as a fundraiser for next season, so get her your recipes pronto. I may even have to contribute my 'popover' recipe...
Wednesday, October 25, 2006
The team's the thing, as Coach (and emcee) Scott Celli kicks off the evening.
_____________________________________________ Leslie Hirschfeld pays tribute to one of her teammates.
Senior Night is about families, and here are the Lady Raider Seniors with their families. All have sacrificed to be part of the team.
Just because the Seniors graduate doesn't mean the rest of the Melrose team can't smile. Here is the core of next season's team, from left Gina Ciccone, Lauren Howe, cousins Leslie Hirschfeld and Allie Brussard, Nicole Glavin, Hannah Brickley, and Colleen Hanscom. Hannah and Colleen have three more seasons of volleyball.
Photographs courtesy of Don Norris.
The Lady Raiders present flowers and balloons to their counterparts from Stoneham to open the festivities. Here Nicole Glavin does the honors.
Coach Scott Celli has his team primed to compete for another Middlesex League Championship.
I'm having some trouble uploading tonight...so maybe I'll try again later.
Tuesday, October 24, 2006
Melrose came out fast in Game 1, sprinting to a 6-0 start on Kelsey's service, before the Spartans answered back with a quartet of points. But Melrose put up another six spot, with Rachel notching three kills in the first eight Melrose points. Stoneham narrowed the lead to 12-8, but Melrose made another run, sparked by a brilliant one-handed over-the-head save by Rachel, leading to an insurmountable 17-9 lead. Nicole Glavin came off the bench to deliver three kills down the stretch, and Melrose captured the game 25-13.
In Game 2, Melrose kept getting 'twofers', two points for each Stoneham tally, and Melrose got ahead 14-7 before lengthening the lead to 17-7. Leslie Hirschfeld made her presence felt with four kills in the game as well as strong service, and Lauren Howe fired in a couple of kills down the line from her outside spot. Melrose went out 22-11 before closing out the visitors 25-15. Stoneham played very solid defense in the game, making Melrose work hard for the victory.
Game 3 also had little suspense, with Melrose pounding the ball and leading 19-8 with three Howe slams and more kills from Rachel to expand the lead. But the unquestioned "Player of the Match" today was versatile Gina Ciccone, who had several nearly miraculous diving digs, sets from the outside and a handful of kills as she played her best match as a Lady Raider. Gina may not show up on the scoresheet, but she always shows up on game day, and usually with a 'W'. She was ably assisted by the back row defense of Laura and Sam, and as always, T.P. racked up the assists from her setter spot. Melrose substituted liberally and took the game 25-18.
Score by Games
Melrose-- 25 25 25
Stoneham 13 15 18
Game analysis: Melrose could have looked past Stoneham to their rematch with Reading Friday for a share of the Middlesex League title, but came out focused and playing their best defense of the season. Most encouraging for local fans was the improving offense from the inside hitters, Hannah Brickley, Leslie, and Nicole which will be needed against the power game of Reading and in the playoffs. The back row defense of Sam Hamel, Kelsey Quinn, and libero Laura Dillon has played its best defense recently.
Lady Raider Notes:
Thanks to the large crowd who came out to support the Lady Raiders today, and of course to uberfans Dick Collis who keeps the running scoresheet and Don Norris, the Ansel Adams of Melrose volleyball. This group of seniors has accomplished a lot, and looks forward to the most exciting part of the season.
The JV also won handily today, with everyone playing and very few balls hitting the floor. The coaches have repeatedly praised this group of players' work ethic and improvement over the course of the season.
Friday's game at Reading (location to be announced) gives the Lady Raiders a chance to either win outright or share the Middlesex League title for the fourth consecutive season. Today's win brings the past four season Melrose record to 81-10, including the playoffs, and 71-7 regular season.
Noted in the crowd today were Superintended Joe Casey, Athletic Director Pat Ruggiero, and all-everything hoop star Sheylani Peddy.
Sam I Am. Sam Hamel shows how it's done from the back row.
Formidable obstacles.Leslie and Gina put up a double block.
Rachel shows how its done with a powerful overhead past the Central Catholic blockers.
Coach Celli and Coach Steve Wall (left). Batman and Robin?
Monday, October 23, 2006
Last season, Melrose narrowly ousted Central en route to the state finals, as Central, led by Junior Adrian Boss, was the second best team Melrose faced all season. Unfortunately, Boss was absent today because of illness, although Central (10-6) had won nine of their last ten in the uber-tough Merrimack Valley League.
Coming down the stretch, Coach Scott Celli has shortened his rotation, looking ahead to the playoff challenge ahead, while fine tuning both the offense and the defense. Melrose got off to a slow start in Game 1, trailing 6-1, before the tide turned as Hannah Brickley served and got even to 6. The teams battled back and forth, with Central leading 19-18. Melrose spread the points around, among Lauren Howe, who had perhaps her best game this season, Hannah, Gina Ciccone, providing her usual steadiness, and Rachel Towle.
Trailing 19-18, Melrose got a lift from a Taylor Pearson kill, sparking them to a 21-19 run before Central answered. T.P. then ran serve to 24-22, and Taylor delivered yet another kill off the set to close out the game, 25-22.
Game 2 was all Melrose, as the Lady Raiders sprinted to 6-1 and 12-3 leads. Central seemed disheartened and struggled throughout the game with their young and athletic team forced to make numerous acrobatic saves to keep play alive. Melrose took the game 25-9, with 13 kills, incluing three apiece from Rachel and Gina. Gina also chipped in a few assists from the front line, a valuable asset to versatile offense.
Central played with heart and determination in Game 3, coming back from a 7-1 deficit to 13-11. Melrose again provided twelve more kills and improving offense, with Hannah leading the way with four as the Lady Raiders prevailed 25-17.
Score by Games
Melrose-- 25 25 25
Central--- 22 9 17
Game Analysis: Winning high school volleyball develops from a pair of 'C's', consistency and confidence. The best teams have the most consistency and the best players flourish with consistency borne of athleticism, ability, and attitude.
Athletes can control only two aspects of their game, effort and concentration, and Melrose has raised their overall game both offensively and defensively as the season rolls on. More offense from the middles has created a more balanced attack, and the overall defense from libero Laura Dillon, and defenders Sam Hamel and Kelsey Quinn has greatly reduced unforced errors. Sam had her best game of the year in my opinion.
The winning attitude of the entire team gives the chance a legitimate chance once again to go deep into the MIAA playoffs.
Lady Raider Notes: Melrose celebrates "Senior Night" on Tuesday, October 24th at 5 p.m. at the Roosevelt Gymnasium. Seniors Laura Dillon, Sam Hamel, Taylor Pearson, Kelsey Quinn, and Rachel Towle will play their final home game for Melrose volleyball, all having enjoyed distinguished careers individually and all having won at least one Division II sectional title, and Laura playing for a pair of Division II North winners. A big crowd could pay tribute to these terrific student-athletes.
Sunday, October 22, 2006
Click here for the 2006 Tournament Alignments. 26 schools participate in the Division II North Section, with some of the stronger 'traditional' programs including Arlington Catholic, Central Catholic, Dracut, Melrose, and North Andover. This season Hamilton-Wenham has made great strides and Tewksbury is reported to have a highly competitive team. Reading moved up to Division I. Greater Lowell (almost 2000) and Madision Park (over 1600) have the largest enrollments in D2 North, while Quincy Upper and McKinley Tech both have fewer than 250.
This week, Melrose faces always tough Central Catholic from the Merrimack Valley Conference, Stoneham for Senior Night, and travels to Reading to battle the Rockets for first place in both the Middlesex League and the North Shore League.
Melrose stands at 13-3 overall (7-1 Middlesex League) having improved steadily and now playing their best volleyball of the season. Keys to their success have included service consistency, the steady setting of Taylor Pearson, front row defense stabilized by the development of freshman Hannah Brickley, and improved overall defense from the back line.
Lady Raider Notes:
Melrose looks to get on a roll Monday against a perennial powerhouse Central Catholic at 4 p.m. at Roosevelt School Gymnasium. Tuesday is Senior Night against Stoneham, with starting time rolled back to 5 o'clock. Melrose seniors include Co-Captains Laura Dillon and Rachel Towle, Sam Hamel, Taylor Pearson, and Kelsey Quinn. You can track the latest overall Cape Ann League results (participants in the North Shore League at CALScores.
Thursday, October 19, 2006
Melrose gets support from 'The Back Row Gang', including Ron Sen and Dick Collis.
Leslie Hirschfeld stepped up in Game 4 to help deliver the big win over Lexington.
Panoramic view of Lauren Howe going up to hit through the double block with Gina Ciccone (5) and Hannah Brickley (25) looking on.
Rachel Towle crushes another ball with libero Laura Dillon (15) ready to defend.
Hannah changes the hitter's trajectory, with Gina (5), Lauren (6), and setter Taylor Pearson defending.
The Lady Raiders savor the moment after the game, with Teddy Roosevelt looking on. From left Gina (5), Nicole Glavin (13), 'Shy' Sam Hamel, Laura (15), Rachel, and Hannah.
Wednesday, October 18, 2006
Score by Games
Lexington 20 25 11 22
Melrose-- 25 22 25 25
Game 1's action showed that it would be a battle as Lexington tested Melrose with superior height, especially in the middle, with Milena Mensah and Stacey Linehan pounding away early. Rachel Towle came out golden for Melrose, with three kills in the first six points, but the game was tied at 10 and Lexington led at 14-11.
Trailing 17-14, Melrose got two key kills from Leapin' Lauren Howe, although Lexington answered to go up 18-16. Taylor Pearson took over the serve at 18-17 and ran off 4 points to get Melrose ahead by three, with kills by Gina Ciccone, Lauren, and Hannah Brickley.
Melrose went up 24-19 before a net service turned the ball back to the visitors, but Melrose closed out the match on Lexington miscues.
Incantation? No, it's the "Wall Cheer" as the Lady Raiders put up a road block over an enemy spike.
Game 2 started well for the Lady Raiders with a pair of Hannah kills, the first on a block with Gina. Then Lexington rallied for six consecutive points led by Mensah. Melrose trailed 10-4 when Melrose gradually started to regain momentum, again sparked by Taylor's serves, but Lexington, again behind Mensah got up 19-15. Gina Ciccone had a service run to put the locals on top 21-19, but Lexington found conviction and the victory scoring the final four points to close out Melrose 25-22.
Game 3 again started out with momentum for the blue and gold as they led 4-2. Once again, Mensah's height and leaping ability powered the Minutewomen. But Rachel caught fire, and delving three kills in five points, followed by a killing spree by Lauren who scored three in four points as Melrose went on top 13-6. Leslie Hirschfeld provided some key serves during this stretch.
Melrose continued to widen the lead to 20-9, and both teams substituted in preparation for the possible winning game. Melrose finished Lexington 25-11, with a couple more slams from Rachel, who led the Lady Raiders with five kills in the game.
Lexington's Coach Jane Bergin isn't one to go down without a fight, and she exhorted her troops to come back in Game 4. And once again they took the early lead, 5-2 and dominated the first half of the match leading 11-7, before a Kelsey Quinn service run brought Melrose back to lead 12-11. But Lexington rallied to go up 17-14, when Leslie came in to make a key block and kill to narrow the lead. At 18-15, Lauren put on her aerial show with another key spike, but again Lexington fought back to lead 21-18. But the Lady Raiders regained the serve, with Kelsey pounding the ball and Rachel once again coming up big in Crunch Time, with a pair of Frozen Milk slams, before Gina took a back set from Taylor and delivered a topspin into the empty middle to seal the win.
Game analysis.In something of an aberration compared with Melrose's historical middle attack, Coach Scott Celli switched up the game plan and attacked from the flanks, where Melrose overmatched taller Lexington defenders. Conversely, Lexington was unable to bring consistent pressure from the outside.
In addition to the outside hitting of Rachel, Lauren, and Gina, Melrose got stout defense from the back row of Kelsey, Sam Hamel, and Laura Dillon, who played her best game of the season at libero.
Rachel has shown the ability to bring her game to its highest level when needed most, which the entire team will do as they peak going into the playoffs. Rachel Towle has given Melrose powerful hitting from the outside.
Coach Celli remains pleased with the team's effort, and has committed to get the team to the highest level going down the stretch. He intends to work to maximize defensive consistency, while diversifying the offense.
Lady Raider Notes: Taylor Pearson came through with a terrific effort despite playing with a mild shoulder injury.
The JV trounced Lexington in straight games, 2-0, as Coach Steve Wall's "Baby Raiders" overwhelmed their more experienced counterparts with athleticism and team play.
With Katherine Hartigan injured, Kelly O'Neill is the lone sophomore playing on the Melrose JV.
Lady Raider fans have a lot to look forward to, as several of the JV players appear ready to play at the varsity level. Every Melrose championship team has had major contributions from underclassmen. Junior Gina Ciccone of this year's team represents a great example, gaining experience as the JV setter a frosh, with that ballhandling skill earning her a starting role as a sophomore on last season's 24-1 team. Gina Ciccone spikes while Taylor Pearson looks on.
Sports brings a continual cycle of meritocracy, of maturity and renewal, as young players grow into roles as their development permits.
Tuesday, October 17, 2006
Melrose volleyball continues to succeed, with a combination of athleticism, ability, and attitude. Team success emerges from a combination of work, discipline, sacrifice, and selflessness. Only six players can play at a time, and coaches agonize about having to choose those who give the team the best chance to win.
Coach Scott Celli (left) and Assistant Steve Wall have created consistent winners at Melrose High School, including three consecutive Division II North Champions and this year's 11-3 squad. Coming into this season, Melrose has won at least 20 contests each of the past three seasons (including playoffs). Not bad for a regular season of twenty matches.
Setter Taylor Pearson replaced last year's record-setting setter Amanda Hallett seamlessly.
Junior Gina Ciccone, a starter on last year's state finalist team, brings consistency to both the front row, back row, and the service line.
Defender Sam Hamel brings toughness and flair to the back line.
Co-Captain Laura Dillon knows 'Sister Act', having taken over from former MHS legend Kerry Dillon providing terrific play as libero.
Leslie Hirschfeld has provided solid net play for the Lady Raiders in the middle.
Melrose's tallest player, Nicole Glavin, provided key service points in the Belmont contest.
Allie Brussard gives Melrose another option at the net and the service line.
Lauren Howe in a reflective moment.
Game jerseys 50 dollars. Playoff tickets 6 dollars. A smile from outside hitter Lauren Howe (6)? Priceless.
Kelsey Quinn has given Melrose powerful and consistent serves and potent back row defense this season.
Co-Captain Laura Dillon ready to reject a Belmont offering. Dig it.
Co-Captain Rachel Towle is Melrose's most experienced hitter, but puts up tough defense, too.
Being a good teammate counts. Here Rachel gives Gina a "low-five".
Freshman Hannah Brickley has literally and figuratively enjoyed her breakout season as an impact player in the middle. Hannah has become a formidable blocker at midseason.
Here Hannah "hits it where they ain't", with a tricky 'dink' over the double block.
Melrose has a long tradition of versatile multisport athletes starring on both the volleyball and the basketball court. Colleen Hanscom is the latest, making her varsity debut yesterday at setter, filling in for Taylor Pearson who sustained an injury.
Not far away. The Class of 2010 has some terrific athletes who will contribute for years to come. Here Jess Farr bumps one back for the JV.
Three stalwarts for the JV this season have been Colleen Hanscom (14), Allie Walsh (32) and Laura Irwin (17).
Post 'em if you got 'em. This isn't an unknown, just the best shot we've got of sophomore Kelly O'Neill. Kelly's leadership has helped acclimate the freshmen to a winning environment.
Alex Harlow brings a unique dimension to the JV as their only southpaw.
Focused on contributing soon, from left, Katherine Hartigan, Liz Dellisola, Annemarie Wiesen, Devyn O'Brien, Alex Kupchaunis, Teagan Bell, and Jenny Hinkle. The Junior Varsity is an important and close part of the Melrose volleyball program.
Photographs Courtesy of Terry Bleiler of Prestige Portraits.
Monday, October 16, 2006
Melrose struck early and often in Game 1, running out to a 16-3 lead, as Belmont had trouble coping with serves from Hannah Brickley and Gina Ciccone who ran off runs of 5 and 8 points respectively. Co-captain Rachel Towle had three kills in the game as well, as Melrose won handily 25-6.
In game 2, Belmont caught Melrose flat-footed, staking a 3-0 lead, and holding the Lady Raiders even at 10-10. But Melrose blew the game open as Nicole Glavin had a powerful service run from 11-10 to 18-10.Unofficially Hannah Brickley had four kills during the game, which Melrose won 25-14. Nicole Glavin provided a big spark during the key moments of Game 2.
Game 3 saw Melrose jump out in front 10-5 and extend their lead to 17-6, before closing out Belmont 25-11. Taylor Pearson went out with some shoulder stiffness, and Freshman Colleen Hanscom made her varsity debut, filling in admirably and getting her first varsity assist on a Monstah Kill by Rachel Towle.
Lady Raider Notes: Melrose hosts one of the stronger ML teams Wednesday as Lexington comes to town.
The ML portion of the schedule will expand over the next two seasons, as Watertown adds volleyball in 2007 and Winchester in 2008. With the Cape Ann League games, that will allow only two non-league games in 2007, but six in 2008 as the Cape Ann League part of the schedule gets revamped.
More open dates would allow Melrose to play some of the stronger teams in the area to prepare for tournament action.
The Junior Varsity topped Belmont 2-1 with particularly fine play during the tiebreaker. Many of the younger Lady Raiders show the athleticism, improving ability, and competitive attitude that promises to continue the Melrose volleyball tradition going forward. "Tradition never graduates."
Sunday, October 15, 2006
This is one of our favorites, that captures the action and the intensity of Melrose volleyball. Leslie Hirschfeld and Gina Ciccone set up the double block, and Taylor Pearson and Rachel Towle (27) get into defensive position.
Taylor (1) sets and Nicole Glavin gets ready to hit, with Gina (5) looking on.
Freshman Hannah Brickley has provided invaluable defense and toughness at the net since moving into the lineup.
Been there. Done that. Gina and Laura Dillon (15) celebrate a point in their big win over Division III leader and last year's state finalist North Reading. Gina and Laura played big roles on last year's 24-1 state finalist team.
Melrose came out of their toughest stretch of the year, 4-2, playing at their best as the team heads toward the playoffs. From left, Coach Scott Celli, Laura Dillon, Hannah Brickley, and Assistant Coach Steve Wall.
Allie Brussard brings her big serve to the lineup.
Team meeting before the game. From left, Hannah, Laura, Allie, Taylor, Rachel, Kelsey Quinn, Lauren Howe, and Leslie. Why do we play? (Click and wait to play)
What, me worry? Nicole (13) and Gina look very relaxed as they prepare to face North Reading. A confident team plays relaxed, focus volleyball.
The Lady Raiders get lots of support from the Melrose community. Here Dick Collis of 'The Back Row Boys' and the Melrose Athletic Hall of Fame Committee shares his thoughts with Jen Cohane, a big hitter from Melrose volleyball history.