Saturday, September 29, 2007

Melrose Volleyball Tradition, Then and Now

Photos courtesy of Don Norris. Click photos to ENLARGE. Best viewed with FIREFOX.

Melrose has a rich tradition of volleyball dating back almost thirty years. Today's players create memories for themselves, their families, and the community, just as former players did.

Don LeSaffre dug out folders of the '78 and '79 USVBA national tournaments in Texas and Ohio. The 1978 New England Masters team that played in the El Paso event. Four of the players are from Melrose:
Number 13, Herb Emery, then of East Foster Street, now of Maine. Number 1, Don LeSaffre of the Daniels-LeSaffre family, now of Wakefield; Number 3 at top right is Don Norris of Spear Street, and finally, the late Eddie Austras of Brazil Street. Other members are 11, Don Knight of Framingham; Number 8, John David of Worcester; and Number 9, the late Vito Eikinas of Randolph.

We didn't win anything and were knocked out in the first round -- but we went there, played, and watched the very best players in the nation competing. One day I was seated in the stands watching the women practice, and Flo Hyman -- voted best player in the '77 games -- sat beside me. We chatted for quite a while, while watching Debbie Green setting her club. What magic!

Bill Hirschfeld looks on with Melrose Athletic Director Pat Ruggiero
Some younger fans might be future Lady Raiders
__________________________________________________________________________________As always, the Junior Varsity has some future contributors, including Athena who enjoys the moment.
__________________________________________________________________________________A pensive Coach Scott Celli reflects on the action.
From left, Alex Harlow, Les Hirschfeld, and libero Jess Farr
Defender Lauren Howe prepares to serve
Alex Harlow is yet another of the young players helping Melrose continue its winning tradition
__________________________________________________________________________________Sophomore Hannah Brickley's outstanding play has come as no surprise to those who watched her last season.
_________________________________________________________________________________Nicole Glavin knows when to smash them, and when to dink and dunk
Setter Colleen Hanscom's athleticism and poise have helped Melrose to a 9-0 start.
Another solid victory for the girls in the red and white. Gina Ciccone congratulates Hannah (25).

Friday, September 28, 2007

CONGRATULATIONS! 200...200...200

Congratulations to Coach Scott Celli on his 200th career coaching win...and we're not talking scrimmages and preseason, either. The Melrose Lady Raiders volleyball team capped a homestand with a 3 game victory over Belmont, to go 9-0 (6-0) Middlesex League as they complete their first pass around the league.Coach Scott Celli, assisted by Steve Wall, add more cars to Melrose's victory train...

Score by Games

Melrose 25 25 25

Belmont 7 15 18

Once again, the margin of victory allowed Melrose to play the roster, and allow the younger players to garner more valuable game experience.

Game one was a walkover, with Laura Irwin on a big service run of fourteen consecutive points (half of Marianne Foley's school record). Included in the run were six aces. Hannah Brickley dominated at the net, toying with Belmont through much of the period. Melrose had only one service error during the game as well. The serve-receive defense led by libero Jess Farr and Lauren Howe also played a vital role.

Melrose trailed 4-3 in game two before running out to an 11-4 lead. Hannah added another trio of kills as well as a host of service points.

Game three saw more fight from Belmont, with more good service from Laura, and a quartet of Hannah kills and a pair from outside hitter Nicole Glavin. Belmont got as close as 18-14 but the outcome was never in doubt.

Congratulations again to Coach Celli who built and maintained the local volleyball program to the point where it is a perennial contender for league and divisional titles, and known for its competitiveness and sportsmanship.

Alumni Note: Former Lady Raider Andrea Basteri has a tough job ahead of her as Watertown mentor, but she's up to the task.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Lady Raiders Make Watertown 8th Win

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The Watertown Red Raiders traveled to Marcoux Gym as an expansion team in the Middlesex League. Not long thereafter they departed with straight game losses to Melrose (8-0, 5-0 Middlesex League). Developing a program from scratch means a big task for former Lady Raider Andrea Basteri, especially in season with a powerful Watertown Field Hockey program capturing many top athletes.

Watertown had problems even returning the serves of the more experienced Melrose players, and Coach Scott Celli took the opportunity to play his entire roster. Kelly O'Neill got some quality time as libero in the sweltering gym, and Annmarie Wiesen and Alex Harlow also had extended action.

Siena Mamayek has her game face on as she has her first year in the volleyball program.
__________________________________________________________________________________Volleyball ladies can have some fun, right?
__________________________________________________________________________________Hannah Brickley (25) makes her entrance as a force while only a sophomore.
Gina Ciccone smashes while Laura Irwin and Jess Farr (in red) look on.
As always, plenty of fan support for the Volleyball Girls.
__________________________________________________________________________________Colleen Hanscom has quietly steadied the Lady Raiders both offensively and defensively while setting. The setter plays every point and gets no rest.
Melrose celebrates another individual game victory.
More hot air from the 'Bald Row Boys', Joe Celli and Ron Sen
A lot of times, watching is harder on the families than on the players.
Nicole Glavin goes high for the block.
Something must be right for the Melrose program with so many smiling young ladies.
__________________________________________________________________________________Leslie Hirschfeld winds up her service.
__________________________________________________________________________________The always photogenic Lauren Howe shares a few moments with some fans.
The Melrose players understand their priorities, handed down from frormer Athletic Director Sonny Lane and the numerous Melrose coaches : family, school, and sports. Here Kelly O'Neill pounds the books.
No program achieves durable success without development and younger players. Here the future Lady Raiders, the Junior Varsity prepare to face Peabody.

Lady Raider Notes: Melrose hosts improving Belmont Friday as they complete the first 'turn' around the Middlesex League and seek to remain atop the circuit and go to 6-0 in league play. Coach Scott Celli reports that Division II scouts have their eyes on Belmont's top player.

Photographs courtesy of Don Norris.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Lucky Seven, Melrose Whips Tanners, 3-0

While unevenness in schedule quality has always been a problem for local volleyball, today brought a solid opponent to the Marcoux Gym, only to see Melrose wear down the visiting Peabody Tanners, 26-24, 25-22, and 25-15.

Melrose, sporting new home uniforms, got off to a slow start in Game 1, trailing 9-5 and 12-7 before the locals could get in gear. The secret to winning volleyball remains aggressiveness and prudent risk-taking, bringing the attack to the defense and forcing errors. Defensively, you must challenge every ball at the net, regardless of whether you are outsized. At the outset, Melrose let Peabody carry the play, but that changed with a 7-1 spurt spearheaded by service points from Middle Hitter Leslie Hirschfeld. Leslie played one of her stronger offensive games carrying the play from the middle to the taller Tanners.

Down the stretch it was a team effort as the teams were even at 24 before a Hannah Brickley kill gave Melrose the lead and Colleen Hanscom's serve forced an error to seal the victory. Nicole Glavin (unofficially) had three big kills in the game also.

Game 2 had Melrose jumping out 4-0, with Brickley and Laura Irwin thundering kills opening the lead, followed by a Hirschfeld ace. But Peabody gamely fought back to level it at 4. Hannah had another four kills to spark the hosts, while Nicole had a pair of overpowering slams down the stretch and a service point to ice it. Glavin clearly was the deciding force in the second stanza, as the Senior Outside Hitter comes into her own.

Game 3 found Peabody wilting under the Melrose attack, again led by Hannah's five kills. Peabody closed to within 15-13, but Melrose closed them out with a 10-2 run to stretch their undefeated streak to seven. The Lady Raiders are now 3-0 in interconference games in the North Shore League and 4-0 in the Middlesex League.

Score by Games

Melrose 26 25 25

Peabody 24 22 15

Lady Raider Notes:
Coach Scott Celli was pleased with how his team met the challenge of the tall Peabody team, especially with the more difficult portion of the schedule coming up next week. Sophomore Hannah Brickley remains a force offensively and defensively in the middle, and the Seniors, Gina Ciccone, Lauren Howe on defense, Leslie Hirschfeld, and Nicole Glavin have all been active.

Unofficially, Melrose had only three service errors for the match, a big improvement. The team still battles the 'overpass' which Peabody translated into a number of easy points. Passing skill inconsistency also 'trapped setter Colleen Hanscom at the net more than we'd like to see. Taller, experienced front court players are not fooled by setters either tied up at the net or trying to find holes in the opposition defense...turning 'dekes' into points.

Melrose won the match because of greater consistency, particularly in the serve-receive part of the game. Beyond the libero, Peabody struggled with their serve-receive game, allowing Melrose to become the aggressor, setting up the front row for kills.

Conversations with Pat Ruggiero couldn't yield much news on the 'phantom bleachers' for the new Middle School Gym. Fortunately, local fans have the improved Marcoux facility to compensate for their disappointment at not getting into the fabulous new facility.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Volleyball Schedule Correction

Wednesday's contest with WATERTOWN is HOME this week, so the Lady Raiders have a three game home stand this week.

Watertown is an expansion program in the Middlesex League. Developing a new program in a community with a dominant fall sport (Girls' Field Hockey) could prove a daunting challenge.

Updated Standing and Schedule

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The Melrose Lady Raiders face their toughest challenge of the 2007 season Monday as they host Division I Peabody. Melrose (6-0, 4-0 Middlesex League) has a pair of home contests this week before hitting the road next week.
Melrose has gotten off to an excellent start with a young team, and will need a total integration of offensive and defensive skills to keep their winning streak alive.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Lady Raiders at Lynnfield in Pictures

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Leslie Hirschfeld (33) and Colleen Hanscom set up the double block, while Nicole Glavin covers the opposite side.
__________________________________________________________________________________Here Leslie prepares to hit.
The Lady Raiders appear pleased with the results of this play. Left to right, Kelly O'Neill, Laura Irwin, Nicole Glavin, Hannah Brickley, and Colleen Hanscom.
More photos when Blogger cooperates. The photos just don't want to go up right now.

The Lady Raiders travel to Burlington tomorrow. Rumor has it that the bleachers have arrived at the new Middle School Gym...

Photos courtesy of Don Norris.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Melrose Circles Wagons, Stops Pioneers 3-1

The Melrose Lady Raiders extended their unbeaten streak to five, topping the Lynnfield Pioneers 3-1 at Lynnfield today. Melrose (5-0, 3-0 Middlesex League) played sluggishly at times, perhaps having a slight letdown after Friday's terrific win at Reading.

Game 1 saw Melrose stop Lynnfield 25-17, highlighted by a six point service run by Laura Irwin, including a pair of aces. Melrose got off to an 11-3 lead and was never headed.

Game 2 was a rout, with the Lady Raiders scalping the Pioneers 25-12. Unofficially Colleen Hanscom had five kills and Hannah Brickley three. Melrose had a pair of service errors in both of the first two games.

Lynnfield took advantage of tentative Melrose play in the third, with the front line pounding a number of slams into the net. Melrose also committed four service errors during the error-filled frame. Leslie Hirschfeld had three kills as Melrose lost game 3, 25-21.

In Game 4, Melrose came out strong, reminiscent of the State Semifinals two years ago at Blackstone Valley. The Lady Raiders looked like they would take no prisoners, jumping out to a 5-1 lead on a service run by Colleen. Melrose then doubled Lynnfield at 14-7 before the hosts awoke, narrowing the contest to 14-11 and ultimately leveling it at 19. But Hannah Brickley saved her best for the final stanza, with a trio of kills, leading Melrose to a 25-22 win.

Score by Games

Melrose 25 25 21 25

Lynnfield 17 12 25 22

Lady Raider Notes: Melrose coach Scott Celli was pleased to pick up another win, especially on the road, but not especially satisfied with his teams performance. The Melrose skipper felt that with their best effort that his team should have dominated Lynnfield.

To compete against the stronger teams in the North Shore League and some non-league opponents Melrose must:
  • Reduce service errors
  • Become more aggressive defensively at the net
  • Strengthen their serve-receive game
  • Develop more offensive consistency, 'winning' more points outright

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Melrose at Reading Photoessay

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Hannah Brickley with a rejection, while Laura Irwin and Jess Farr look on.
_________________________________________________________________________________Nicole Glavin with a spike.
Coaches Celli and Wall regroup their charges. The Lady Raiders have lost only 8 regular season games in the past five seasons.
Hannah gets it done at the offensive end.
The double block might be a little widely spaced, but works like a charm here.
_________________________________________________________________________________Hearty congratulations on a job well done.
The Junior Varsity lost a hard-fought three game battle following the Varsity game.
__________________________________________________________________________________Varsity players Jess Farr (libero in red), Alex Harlow, Laura Irwin, and Colleen Hanscom chill after the match.

Photos courtesy of Don Norris. Mr. Norris is also a frequent contributor to the Melrose Mirror.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Senior Captains and More

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Melrose volleyball has helped create LEADERSHIP, with some terrific captains through the years. With a young team, "attitude reflects leadership" and both are outstanding.
Tri-Captains Gina Ciccone, Leslie Hirschfeld, and Lauren Howe (left to right) experience success on and off the court.

Today, we visited the new Melrose Middle School, which is fantastic. The overall educational presentation, blending iconic features from the prior school, with ultramodern teaching tools (e.g. smartboards and state-of-the-art resource center and computer labs) should make every Melrose resident proud and excited. The new gymnasium is spectacular and the auditorium is breath-taking, something you would expect at the Museum of Science or the Wang Center. The lighting is fantastic.

Congratulations to Melrose.

Preserved historical pillars with statues in main corridor.
The amphitheater is spectacular, which isn't fully shown with the seats covered here and stage incomplete.

"Pretty as a Picture"

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Melrose celebrates their five game victory over defending champion Reading.

Photo courtesy of Don Norris.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Kid Stuff Downs Rockets 3-2

The Melrose Lady Raiders took a major step toward recapturing Middlesex League dominance with a thrilling five game victory at the Reading Fieldhouse. The victory kept Melrose undefeated at 4-0 (3-0 Middlesex League) and vaulted the volleyballers into undisputed first place.

Senior co-captain Gina Ciccone returned from a lower body injury to come off the bench to help Melrose garner the victory. In addition to Gina's efforts, senior co-captain Lauren Howe also showed steadiness in the back row against the Rocket attack.

Last year Reading took both contests, but with the loss of North Shore League Player of the Year Meredith Gent to graduation and a new coach, Reading faced some rebuilding. Melrose overcame a 21-19 deficit in game 1, rallying to win 25-21. Nicole Glavin had a pair of key service points to close out the game.

The Lady Rockets came back strongly to win games 2 and 3, as Reading had superior height and capitalized on slightly better serving than Melrose.

Facing elimination in Game 4, Melrose again rallied from a deficit to pull out the tiebreaker 25-22 sending the match into a decisive fifth game. Hannah Brickley dominated the fourth frame, unofficially with seven kills in the comeback effort.

Reading jumped out to a 9-8 lead in the final game, before Melrose assumed control with a four point run. The teams traded additional points before the visitors took it home 15-12 in the fifth.

Coach Scott Celli surely was excited about the resilience of his team, that came from behind in each of the victorious games. Although pleased with the overall performance, he will look for more consistent service and even more consistency from both the offensive attack and serve-receive.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Photoessay: Melrose vs. Stoneham

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Photos courtesy of Don Norris...we put up the best of what we have.

Melrose is the second smallest city in Massachusetts, but takes pride in our Lady Raiders, who always come to play.

We should pause to reflect some of the reasons we play sports, the benefits of physical fitness, competition, learning how to function as a team. Girls who play sports tend to have better academic performance, less bone loss over time, reduced cancer risk, and lower risk of teen pregnancy, substance abuse, and delinquency.

Everyone doesn't get the same playing time on a team, but every team member has a unique and important role. Every day at practice players improve by competing with and against each other. You never know when you might be called upon because of illness or injury in a critical moment. A few years ago, All-star setter Amanda Hallett broke a shoelace against Andover in one of the greatest games in Melrose volleyball history. Reserve setter Taylor Pearson came off the bench for a few points and didn't miss a play, with Melrose defeating the Division I State finalist on their home floor.
Sophomore Hannah Brickley is one of the shining lights for Melrose Volleyball in her second season. Kelly O'Neill is in the background. Like many volleyballers of past seasons, Hannah also plays hoop for Melrose. The volleyball and basketball teams have a friendly rivalry for bragging rights. In the past five seasons, the Lady Raiders volleyball team has been to the D2 North final in Andover four times, winning three titles and played in one State Championship. During the same period, the basketball team has gone to the Tsongas Arena for the D2 North final four times, winning two D2 North Championships allowing them to advance to the Boston Garden.
_________________________________________________________________________________Here, Hannah finishes off the "dig-set-slam" ideal.
_________________________________________________________________________________Senior Co-captain Leslie Hirschfeld gets ready to return.
Melrose had to replace the entire back row after graduation last year. Here libero Jess Farr (red shirt), Alex Harlow (front), and Hannah prepare for serve-receive. The sophomore trio guarantees a bright future for local volleyball.
Melrose tries to get a double block up, but doesn't get there in time for this one.
Laura Irwin shows her power and athleticism here, preparing to spike at the net.
________________________________________________________________________________Laura has her game face on here, too.

'Glav' flashes a winning smile afterwards.
Colleen Hanscom runs down an errant pass to set up a teammate.
Leslie Hirschfeld puts up a block.
Nicole, in this candid shot, looks as though she's just gotten hit by a 'rat-tail'.
_________________________________________________________________________________Preparing for the serve (probably from Hannah), the offense prepares to become defense.
The Lady Raider fans appreciate the hard work that the team puts in.
_________________________________________________________________________________Melrose volleyball...making memories, and some hardware now and then.