Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Volleyball Playoffs Continue

In Division II, Arlington Catholic got annihilated by defending champion Medfield 3-0 (25-15, 25-13, 25-13). Despite losing their best player (Molly Barrett, D2 Player of the Year), Medfield returns to the finals against Bourne, which beat Medfield in 2004.

Last year's Melrose Lady Raiders lost a thrilling five game match to Medfield, which gives us an idea of how well Melrose's 2005 edition played that day.

Newton North will face the winner of Barnstable (97 consecutive game winning streak) and Lincoln-Sudbury in the D1 final Saturday. LS will be looking to pull off the upset of the century, presumably led by 6' 5" Carolyn Swords.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Champions All

Melrose Seniors Taylor Pearson, Rachel Towle, Sam Hamel, Kelsey Quinn, and Laura Dillon.
Laura Dillon and Sam Hamel scramble after an AC hit.
Lauren Howe goes skyward for the kill.

Coach Scott Celli has a four year record of 84-12 leading the Melrose program.
Leslie Hirschfeld lines up a serve.

From left, Hannah Brickley, Nicole Glavin, Taylor Pearson, and Gina Ciccone.

Hannah goes for the block, while Rachel defends from the outside.

Rachel goes for the spike against Maria Scocca.

Kelsey Quinn had a marvelous year on defense and serving.
Photographs courtesy of Don Norris. As the season concludes, everyone recognizes the terrific work by Don.

Follow the Terminator: "I'll be back"

We sometimes regret what we have not accomplished, rather than celebrate that which we have. The 2006 Lady Raiders and their fans enjoyed a remarkable series of accomplishments:

  • Division II North Finalist
  • Runnerup in the Middlesex League
  • One NorthShore League All-League player (Rachel Towle)
  • Three Middlesex League All-Stars (Rachel Towle, Laura Dillon, Gina Ciccone)
  • Fourth consecutive appearance in Divsion II North Finals

Melrose stands as not only the envy of many area volleyball teams, but as one of the premier volleyball programs in Massachusetts, along with Barnstable, Andover, both Quincy Highs, Medfield, Marlboro, and Frontier. These are the teams that consistently move through the tournament.

This year's team showed excellence, determination, caring about each other, and significant improvement through the course of the year. Melrose only lost to teams at the top of their game (Andover and Reading were the D1 North Finalist), and AC the D2 North champion.

Yes, we're not happy at see AC walk out of Andover's Dunn Gymnasium with 'our' trophy, but that will only encourage the returnees and newcomers to the program to work even harder to return to championship form next season.

Everyone wants to thank the seniors, Rachel and Laura, Sam Hamel, Kelsey Quinn, and Taylor Pearson for their major contributions to the program. We wish them well.

Don't cry for Melrose as they'll return Gina Ciccone, Lauren Howe, Leslie Hirschfeld, Allie Brussard, and Nicole Glavin as seniors, Kelly O'Neill as a junior, and Hannah Brickley, Colleen Hanscom, and Laura Irwin as sophomores. With another season of experience, maturity, and more coaching in 'technical' volleyball, Melrose will look to regain the winners' trophy for the MHS trophy case.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Cougars Win Catfight with Melrose, 3-0

Melrose's fourth consecutive trip to Andover's Dunn Gymnasium to the Division 2 North Finals proved to be exciting, but the Lady Raiders fell to the AC Cougars, 3-0. AC got something of a monkey off their back, as Melrose had stuffed them in 2003 to win its first D2 North title, and beaten AC twice last year en route to the state finals, and eliminated the Cougars (many on the basketball team) in the state basketball playoffs as well.

The first and second games were nailbiters, with AC winning 25-23 and 25-22. Melrose had their chances, but couldn't come up with the answers to a pair of legitimate All-Scholastic possibilities in Maria Scocca and Elise Caira. Melrose had a 13-5 lead in game 2, but AC powered back behind a series of Scocca kills.

In the third game, Melrose simply ran out of gas, AC went up 17-8 and 21-9, and Coach Scott Celli gave the entire team a chance to get on the court, as Melrose fell 25-11.

The Lady Raiders had a wonderful season, finishing as D2 North runnerups, with an 18-5 record, bringing their four year record (including playoffs) to 84-12. Exclusive of playoffs, they've been a remarkable 72-8, winning ninety percent of their matches.

The Lady Raiders got excellent coaching from Coach Celli and Assistant Steve Wall, leadership from Rachel Towle, Laura Dillon and all the five seniors, and will return a strong contingent with five juniors, one sophomore and three freshmen on the final roster.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Going to the 'Ship

The Cycle of Life. Freshman Hannah Brickley (25) watched the playoffs from the stands last season. Senior Rachel Towle wants another D2 North title for her trophy case.
____________________________________________ Assistant Coach Steve Wall towers over the group. As usual, you can see Taylor Pearson 'hydrating'.

Kelsey Quinn (L) and Lauren Howe are into the game.

Ryan Celli gets some pointers from Dad.

Rachel 'for whom the kill' Towle's smash...

Coach Scott Celli puts his fiery brand on the Lady Raiders' program.

Nicole Glavin shows her 'ups'.

Gina puts it around or through the double blocks.

"We told you, we called heads."

Laura Dillon gets it done at libero, just like big sis Kerry did.

Kelly O'Neill was a playoff callup for the Lady Raiders.

Comin' at ya. Rachel Towle, with 14 kills, had her game face on.

_________________________________________ What, me worry? Not Freshman reserve setter Colleen Hanscom.

__________________________________________ Nicole Glavin has made big contributions to the Melrose attack down the stretch.

_________________________________________Gina Ciccone looks as though she's got the volleyball world on a string.

_____________________________________________ Freshman Laura Irwin has the skills to become a dominant hitter.

_________________________________________Girls just wanna have fun. Taylor Pearson and Sam Hamel (2) share a moment.

_________________________________________Juniors Lauren Howe (left) and Allie Brussard have some yuks.

_________________________________________Middle Leslie Hirschfeld looks like a picture out of Sports Illustrated in this effort.

_______________________________________Feel good to win? "Oh, yeah."


"Glav" gets a congratulatory hug from one of the "First Mothers" of Melrose volleyball.

Many thanks to Don Norris for his terrific camera skills.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

'Ship' Shape, Melrose 3-0

The Melrose Lady Raiders (18-4) have played their best volleyball in the playoffs, and tonight was no exception. Hosting the Central Catholic Raiders at Stoneham, Melrose prevailed 3-0 in a thrilling match and advanced to the Division II North Championship for the fourth consecutive season.

Melrose extended their four year record to 84-11 with the victory.

Melrose defeated Central 3-0 during the regular season, as Central's star, Adrienne Boss was absent with illness. Tonight Boss was back in the lineup, with another powerful three sport star, Melissa Lucas, and a host of athletic girls from Central. But Melrose had too much, particularly in crunch time, and faces the AC-Hamilton-Wenham winner Saturday at Andover's Dunn Gymnasium.

In game one, Melrose simply dominated, with Kelsey Quinn's service a big factor, winning 25-14. Rachel Towle was on fire with a half dozen kills and the back row was stout.

Game two showed much of the same, until Central rallied, with Melrose getting more great defense, but Central working back into rallies, Boss coming on, and Melrose pulling it out 25-23.
Nicole Glavin (hitting) came up big, with help from Leslie Hirschfeld (33) and Sam Hamel (2) among others.

Game three was a barnburner, with Melrose jumping out 14-7 before the Raiders came on hard, tying the score at 17. Melrose was playing tentatively and trailed 22-20, before Nicole Glavin, stepping out of the shadows again, put on a series of smashes and dinks to save Melrose in overtime 27-25. As on Tuesday, Glavin's offense, steadiness, and decision-making was THE DIFFERENCE. Coach Scott Celli was thrilled with both the effort and the outcome, praising all the players, but noting the 'great defense' and Nicole's fantastic play down the stretch. He added that she has worked extremely hard in practice to become a top contributor to the team's success.

Game Scores:

Melrose 25 25 27

Central 14 23 25

Game analysis: Melrose was an entirely different team from the one that showed up Tuesday at Stoneham. They played with an intensity and purpose marking their desire to return to the championship arena. Melrose relied on veteran seniors Rachel Towle up front, Laura Dillon in the back, and Gina Ciccone everywhere. Rachel had her best all-around game, with many superlative digs and great passing. Setter Taylor Pearson was a 'human wading pool', as she went through half a dozen waters.

The back row of Sam Hamel, Laura Dillon, and Kelsey Quinn played simply great defense, and Leslie Hirschfeld, Freshman Hannah Brickley, and Lauren Howe added more defense and firepower up front.

Late News: Melrose (4) will face top-seeded Arlington Catholic Saturday at 4 P.M. at Andover.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Playoff Photoessay - Melrose versus Greater Lowell

Melrose (17-4) defeated Greater Lowell last night at Stoneham High School in the Division II North quarterfinal round. Melrose enters the tournament as the Division II runnerup, having lost to Medfield in the State Finals last year at Hudson High School. Melrose graduated four all-league players, but comes back to challenge for their fourth consecutive D2 North Championship.

Melrose blends youth with experience and looks to improve on their four year record of 83-11 tomorrow night when the Lady Raiders host always tough Central Catholic at Stoneham High School at 7 P.M. Last year Central gave Melrose all they could handle in the quarterfinals.

Freshman Laura Irwin made her debut with power, athleticism, and her first varsity kills. "The next great outside hitter in the Melrose tradition..."
_____________________________________________No wallflowers here...the Melrose student cheering section...


We Are Melrose...

___________________________________________ Freshman Hannah Brickley is at the core of Melrose's defense...

__________________________________________ Libero Laura Dillon shows total concentration in her commitment to defense.

__________________________________________ Gina Ciccone does it all...offense, defense, sets, service...Melrose's Swiss Army Knife.


Setter Taylor Pearson looks to go cross-court while Hannah looks on.


Kelsey Quinn is all smiles whether playing back row or cheering on her teammates.

___________________________________________ Yet another Frosh, setter Colleen Hanscom can light it up on the volleyball court or the basketball court.

___________________________________________ Laura Dillon (top), Gina Ciccone (left), and Sam Hamel (foreground) have played stout 'D' in the back row.


Nicole Glavin provided a spark, especially in Game 3, especially making good decisions at the net.
Photos courtesy of Don Norris.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Melrose Advances, 3-0

Middlesex League runnerup Melrose began its Division 2 North title defense with a 3-0 victory over the Greater Lowell Griffyns. Melrose had the size and experience advantage, and slugged out Game 1 with an imprecise victory.

In Game 2, the offense began to come alive, and Rachel Towle delivered crisp overheads into the back line getting the Lady Raiders a big lead, en route to a 25-14 victory.

Finally in Game 3, the team put it all together, totally dominating, sparked by a scintillating performance by Nicole Glavin, who pulled out an assortment of smashes, tips, and well-placed shots. More than anything else, she increased the energy level and made good decisions on when to hit and when to lay back. Mark Pearson described her as the 'Player of the Game' in his MMTV comments.

Also making headlines were Laura Irwin, with her first varsity kills. Irwin brings power, athleticism, and offensive fearlessness that recall the formative efforts of Karen Sen from the outside. At one point in the game, Melrose had three freshmen on the court and dominating, with Hannah Brickley, Irwin, and setter Colleen Hanscom.

Melrose will play next in the Division II North Semis, Thursday night. If top-seeded Greater Lawrence wins, the game will be in Lawrence, and if Central Catholic wins, then Melrose will host the match in Stoneham.

Game Analysis. Melrose started sluggishly and came on as the evening proceeded. Melrose got more offense from a variety of sources, including more hitting power from Hannah Brickley in the middle, complementing Leslie Hirschfeld's strong play. The back row quartet of libero Laura Dillon, Kelsey Quinn, Sam Hamel, and Gina Ciccone all sparkled, and Kelsey had a number of services aces as well.

Faces in the Crowd. Melrose AD Pat Ruggiero hosted the evening at Stoneham, with Stoneham AD Mike Lahiff on hand as well. Basketball Captains Shey Peddy and Lynley DeAmato had their customary position amidst the Melrose crowd, and last year's setter, Amanda Hallett, a libero at Framingham State watched as well.

Lady Raiders Playoff Roster (unofficial)

The unofficial playoff roster for tonight's game...

Coach Scott Celli
Assistant Steve Wall


Laura Dillon (CAPT)
Rachel Towle (CAPT)
Sam Hamel
Kelsey Quinn
Taylor Pearson


Gina Ciccone
Lauren Howe
Allie Brussard
Leslie Hirschfeld
Nicole Glavin


Kelly O'Neill


Hannah Brickley
Colleen Hanscom
Laura Irwin

V-Ballers Begin Playoffs Tonight

The Lady Raiders begin their D2 North title defense tonight hosting Greater Lowell at Stoneham at 7 P.M.

See the well wishes here with more details.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

MIAA Draw for Melrose

The MIAA has posted the draw for the Division II North Volleyball Tournament. Last season, Melrose got the toughest possible draw, with Central Catholic in the quarterfinals, Arlington Catholic in the semis, and North Andover in the finals. This season, Melrose gets the four seed, with a bye in Round 1. They then face Greater Lowell in the quarterfinals, and if they advance, the winner of Central Catholic (8) and Greater Lawrence (1). Central Catholic plays in the tough Merrimac Valley League, with some powerhouses like Andover, Billerica, and Chelmsford.

Melrose's initial game against Greater Lowell is scheduled for 7 P.M. at the Stoneham High School.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Masco Jamboree Photos

Melrose journeyed to Masconomet Regional for the annual North Shore League Jamboree. And everyone had a good time.

A happy team plays loose and well. What is Sam Hamel doing?
It's all about the team during player introductions.


Athleticism and power characterize Lady Raider volleyball. Here the double block goes up.


Gina Ciccone delivers a kill.


Good defense is critical to winning volleyball. Melrose's Leslie Hirschfeld (33) and Rachel Towle (27) prepare to receive an overhead smash.


Melrose and Masco exchange the traditional postgame handshakes.


Volleyball entertains the young at heart.


Photos courtesy of Don Norris.