Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Jamboree Highlights: Simply Perfect

Click photos to ENLARGE.

Melrose completed its second undefeated volleyball regular season at 20-0 with a crafted blend of senior experience and youthful exuberance. They used the senior experience with the best middle hitter and setter in the league to peak heading toward the tourney.

The Back Row gang cheered Athena Ziavras' call up to varsity for the playoffs. The freshman showed great promise and athleticism this season.
___________________________________________________________________Parents are the unsung heroes of the volleyball program.
Sports is the ultimate meritocracy, and the judge and jury rest in the hands of Coach Scott Celli.
____________________________________________________________________Panoramic dynamic as Laura hits while Hannah watches from the middle, and the central defense (Colleen Hanscom, Gina Ciccone, and Jess Farr from top to bottom) watches eagerly.
Kelly O'Neill (11), Nicole Glavin (13), and Hannah Brickley (25) have all contributed to Melrose's success.
___________________________________________________________________Siena Mamayek (24), Nicole, and Leslie Hirschfeld (33) have performed up front.
___________________________________________________________________Libero Lauren Howe made the difficult transition from outside hitter to full-time defense.
Setter Colleen Hanscom (14) adds athleticism and more height to the setter's role, setting up Laura Irwin (17) for dynamite from the corner.
___________________________________________________________________Colleen gets into position, while Athena and Annmarie Wiesen get ready at the net.
Laura leads the victory lineup with Lauren (6), while the Coach looks on from the background after a Belichickian blowout.
____________________________________________________________________Coach Celli surely has his poker face on after this victory.
___________________________________________________________________There no such thing as a bad win.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Undefeated Regular Season, Post-Season Awards

Melrose capped an undefeated regular season with a three game coronation at the Masco jamboree, 25-15, 25-10, 25-11. Melrose regained both the Middlesex League Title and the North Shore League title.

Game 1 saw Melrose sprint to a 9-2 lead and coast to an easy victory. Melrose spread the fun around with fairly balanced offense led by a trio of kills by Nicole Glavin. Melrose had a pair of service errors, and Leslie Hirschfeld had the lone service ace.

Game 2 saw the Lady Raiders scoring in bunches, to take leads of 4-2, 7-4, 12-5, 17-6 and 21-7. Sophomores Hannah Brickley, Laura Irwin, and Colleen Hanscom each had a pair of kills, and Melrose had a lone service error. Four different players, including Annmarie Wiesen delivered an ace.

Game 3 also saw everyone getting plenty of action, with Melrose amping up to a 10-3 and 17-4 lead, and Hannah led the way with three kills. Laura and Hannah each had a pair of aces and again Melrose had a pair of service errors.

Score by Games

Melrose 25 25 25

Masco.... 15 10 11

Lady Raider Notes
Melrose captured the North Shore League with an 18-0 record, with North Reading the runnerup at 15-3. Coach Scott Celli captured Coach of the Year honors. Melrose's Hannah Brickley was named to the 'Best Six' squad from the North Shore League, a great achievement for the Sophomore Middle Hitter, the only sophomore on the All-Star team.

In addition to Hannah, seniors Gina Ciccone and Nicole Glavin were both named to the Middlesex League and North Shore League All-Star teams. Both have enjoyed terrific senior seasons and careers for Melrose.

North Reading's Alison Friberg received Player of the Year Honor. Hannah could have easily been awarded Player of the Year, a feat previously achieved by two Melrose players, Marianne Foley and Paula Sen. A number of other Lady Raiders could also have earned All-Star selection, but the North Shore League, like major league baseball selects at least one player from each team. It is no exaggeration to say that every player on the Melrose roster could have started for many of the teams in the league.

North Shore League teams qualifying for the post-season tournament include Melrose, Lexington, Lynnfield, North Reading, Reading, and Peabody.

Melrose hosts Division I power Newton North Thursday at 3:15 for a scrimmage at the Middle School gymnasium, and will play a quarterfinal match next Monday versus Arlington High School. Initial reports suggest that Division II North Semifinal action takes place next Wednesday, with the Division II North finals next Saturday. Melrose looks to return to the D2 North final for the fifth consecutive year.

Congratulations to all the players, coaching staff, and their families on both team and individual achievement.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Senior Night - Remember

Photos courtesy of Don Norris.

Tradition dictates that we celebrate the present in the context of the past. Melrose has become a 'volleyball town' among others in the state, like Barnstable, Medfield, Quincy, Bourne, Case, and others.

The community recently honored her seniors for their four year contributions to the program.

Coach Scott Celli has his second undefeated regular season.
___________________________________________________________________Nicole Glavin has had a breakout senior season as an outside hitter.
___________________________________________________________________Tri-captain Lauren Howe has sparkled either at defender or in the libero spot.
Melrose seniors and their parents take it all in.
___________________________________________________________________Tri-captain Gina Ciccone will be the only Melrose player to have played on two undefeated teams.
___________________________________________________________________Leslie Hirschfeld had her best game as a Lady Raider in yesterday's win over AC, delivering some key kills in Game 3.
Melrose completes the regular season at 5:00 P.M. against Masco. Following the late games, the Lady Raiders will receive team and individual awards voted on by the league coaches. This is the final season for the North Shore League. Next season Winchester joins the Middlesex League and Melrose will have six non-league games.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Melrose Flattens Cats, 3-1, Moves to 19-0

The Melrose Lady Raiders played their final home game in the packed Marcoux Gym today, crushing the Arlington Catholic Cougars, 3-1, by scores of 22-25, 25-15, 25-14, and 25-13. AC came in as the Catholic Central League powerhouse and Melrose's combination of four seniors and four sophomores kept the cats in the bag.

AC took Game 1, aided by a controversial momentum-shifting call changing a 17-15 lead into a 16 level tie. AC's Maria Scocca often presented a formidable force at the net. Scocca, a Melrose resident, led AC to the state finals last season and garnered All-Scholastic and All-State honors. But Melrose's North Shore League Player of the Year candidate sophomore Hannah Brickley and teammates had other ideas, challenging AC on every point. Sophomore outside hitter Laura Irwin led the Lady Raiders with three kills in Game 1.

Game 2 saw Melrose race to a 7-0 lead before AC came back into the game, narrowing it to 11-8, before an 8-2 run gave the home six a 19-10 advantage. Four service errors by Melrose kept the game from being a total rout, and Hannah Brickley added a trio of kills.

Melrose gained momentum in Game 3, smashing the Cougars behind a flurry of kills by Brickley, Laura Irwin, Nicole Glavin, and Gina Ciccone, the remaining link to the 2005 state finalist team. Melrose opened up a 19-4 lead before AC even showed a pulse. Unofficially, Irwin had four kills to lead the team.

Game 4 saw more of the same, with a tie at five, before the Lady Raiders opened up 10-6 and 15-9 leads. A 10-4 run closed out the Cougars. Laura Irwin had another four kills in the finale and unofficially thirteen on the night. Sophomore Colleen Hanscom set brilliantly during the match, as well as defending, blocking at the net, and getting the final kill of the game on an acrobatic deflection.

Score by Games

Melrose 22 25 25 25

AC......... 25 15 14 13

Lady Raider Notes: Melrose is en route to their second undefeated volleyball regular season, the previous in 2005 amidst a 24-1 campaign. During the past five years, Melrose has been to the D2 North finals four times, winning three, and has compiled a 91-8 record during that time. Melrose concludes their regular season Monday at the Masconomet Jamboree at 5 PM, and will receive recognitiion for capturing both the Middlesex and North Shore League titles.

Seniors Ciccone, Glavin, Leslie Hirschfeld, and libero Lauren Howe closed out their regular season home careers with the second biggest upset in Melrose history, the biggest being Melrose dispatching undefeated AC in the 2003 Division 2 North finals.

Melrose will begin practicing and playing in the new Middle School Gymnasium tomorrow, with the state volleyball tournament beginning late next week.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Catfight Saturday

Melrose hosts the Arlington Catholic Cougars tomorrow (Saturday, October 27, 2007) in what promises to be one of the toughest contests of recent seasons. The dislike between the two teams goes back a long way, and in different sports.

In the 2002 Volleyball season, AC ousted Melrose 3-0, ending their season in the second round of the playoffs. Subsequently, in the 2003 season, Melrose shocked an AC team led by Heather Marino that hadn't lost a game, with a 3-0 Division II North title, led by senior middle hitters All-Scholastic Marianne Foley and Erin Hudd. AC got some revenge during the basketball season, eliminating the Lady Raiders in the Division II North semis at Beverly.

AC was back again in 2004, topping Melrose in a regular season contest, before Dracut hammered AC in the playoff semifinal. Melrose then crushed Dracut with Karen Sen named All-Scholastic to capture the Division II North title again. Melrose and AC didn't meet that basketball season, however.

In 2005, the Melrose-AC rivalry was renewed, Melrose winning the regular season match fairly easily, and then downing the Cougars 3-1 in the D2 North semis led by a quartet of league all-stars, All-Scholastics Karen and Paula Sen, Jen Cohane, and setter Amanda Hallett. Melrose advanced to the state finals. In a basketball classic, Melrose bounced AC in the opening round of the playoffs, despite Shey Peddy crashing into the wall at Stoneham. The Lady Raiders captured the D2 North title that season.

The 2006 season saw fortunes reverse for Melrose, with AC winning both during the regular season and the playoffs, led by All-Scholastic Maria Scocca and basketball All-Scholastic Elise Caira. AC captured the D2 North title in straight games over the Lady Raiders. The hoop squads didn't face off, as ultimate state champion Lincoln-Sudbury bounced both AC and Melrose from the playoffs.

AC returns tomorrow with Scocca, a Melrose resident, and transfer Meredith Soper from Winthrop. Melrose counters with an experienced senior group led by Gina Ciccone, Leslie Hirschfeld, Lauren Howe, and Nicole Glavin. Complementing the veterans are super sophomore Hannah Brickley, and another sophomore trio outside power hitter Laura Irwin, athletic setter Colleen Hanscom, and defender Jess Farr.

If you want to see intense, athletic, hard-hitting volleyball action, and possibly a preview of another D2 North Final (Central Catholic another major power), come down to the Marcoux Gym for the 4:00 P.M. contest.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Eighteen with Challenges Ahead: Melrose Wins Knight Court

The Melrose Lady Raiders and their fans are head over heels excited about the 2007 season, Senior Night, and tonight's erasure of the North Andover Knights 25-6, 25-7, and 25-20.

A packed gym, Coaches Scott Celli and Steve Wall, and players celebrated the Melrose Seniors career achievements, including a 59-6 record over the past three years for the Seniors with three years of varsity experience. Co-Captains Gina Ciccone, Leslie Hirschfeld, and Lauren Howe joined Nicole Glavin in playing their last home North Shore League contest. Each player received balloons and roses with their family, and a pair of players expressed their thoughts and appreciation to the seniors.

The first two games Melrose simply overwhelmed North Andover, their opponent in the D2 North finals from 2005. Melrose led 8-1 and 15-3 while cruising to the first game win. Unofficially Nicole had four kills, Leslie three, and Hannah Brickley and Laura Irwin each a pair in the first game.

Game two wasn't much different, with the Lady Raiders up 7-1 and 17-4, with Leslie, Hannah, and Laura all with a trio of kills. Annmarie Wiesen and Siena Mamayek also looked proficient while in there. Between the first two games, Melrose missed only three serves.

Game three North Andover got their groove on, and knotted the score at six and led 11-7. At 11-8, a thrilling and extended rally ensued, with several miraculous saves on both sides, before Colleen Hanscom delivered a fake set into the Knight court. From then on, Melrose rallied to go up 19-16, outscoring the visitors 11-5. The Knights closed to within two, but Melrose's dominance allowed them to pull away. The Lady Raiders delivered a dozen kills, led by Hannah with five and Leslie with three.

Lady Raider Notes: Catfight Saturday. Melrose gets a day off tomorrow, with a pair of practices to prepare for the season's toughest match with the Arlington Catholic Cougars Saturday at 4 PM. AC features Melrose's Maria Scocca, a 6'2" All-Scholastic last season for the state finalist Cougars. Melrose completes the season at the Masco jamboree Monday, and will prepare for the postseason with scrimmages next week.

The new Middle School Gym is nearing seat installation completion, and will likely debut for the post-season.

Following the game today, players, families, and fans enjoyed some postgame celebration and noshing, with many reminiscing about their experiences in the program over the past few seasons.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Seventeenth Win at Belmont

Melrose traveled to Belmont to complete their Middlesex League schedule unblemished, going to 17-0 and 12-0 in the League. Melrose has also clinched at least a tie for the North Shore League title as well. Full details to follow.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Sweet Sixteen, Melrose 3-0

The Melrose Lady Raiders traveled to shadowy Watertown, and delivered yet another victory over the expansion Red Raiders, 25-8, 25-9, 25-6. Melrose goes to 16-0 with the win. The win clinches undisputed possession of the Middlesex League crown, regained from Reading after a one year hiatus.

Watertown opened up with a pair of quick points, before Melrose solved them for eight consecutive tallies, with Leslie Hirschfeld on serve. With the score 14-8, Laura Irwin ran the table at service, including an unofficial ten aces. Hannah Brickley delivered a trio of kills in game one.

Melrose substituted liberally throughout, and went up 10-4 in game two, with Watertown hanging around at 13-9, before Melrose opened it to 15-10, and Jess Farr had an unusual appearance at serve, running off nine in a row to bring victory.

Game three saw Melrose fire out to a 16-1 lead, with service runs from Annmarie Wiesen and Colleen Hanscom. Melrose then opened the lead to 20-2 and cruised home with everyone getting in on the fun. Siena Mamayek had a pair of kills.

Lady Raider Notes: Melrose grabs a share of the ML title for the fourth time in the past five seasons. The Lady Raiders travel to Belmont Friday for their final game of the Middlesex League schedule. Tuesday is Senior Night, with Gina Ciccone, Nicole Glavin, Leslie Hirschfeld, and Lauren Howe Melrose's fourth year players.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Lady Raiders versus H-W Generals and more

Photos courtesy of Don Norris. Click photos to ENLARGE.

Fastest guns in the North?

Melrose has developed a proud volleyball winning tradition. It all starts with community support, with well-attended athletic contests, two community newspapers reporting on the Lady Raiders, an outstanding local Cable TV franchise, MMTV, consistent leadership and coaching from Scott Celli and Steve Wall, and a core of players who attend camps and developmental league volleyball. They can do that only through the constant support of parents, the unsung heroes of the volleyball program.

Melrose expects to field a successful team, with four consecutive trips to the Division II North final, three championships, and a history of All-State players, All-Scholastics, North Shore League Players of the Year, and Middlesex League All-Stars.

The coaches and players encourage young Melrose athletes to learn volleyball and follow in their footsteps, and the coaches have developed a summer youth volleyball program getting players exposure at earlier ages.

Hannah Brickley and Gina Ciccone go up for the block. Hannah looks to get to her first Division II North title, while Gina looks to get back to the State Championship game.
Lauren Howe lines up an overhead smash. Lauren has seen increased time at libero recently.
Gina launches her patented topspin lob over a Hamilton-Wenham defender.
___________________________________________________________________Laura Irwin hammers one home while Melrose defenders look on.
Coach Steve Wall has some pointers for Laura.
___________________________________________________________________Nicole Glavin gives the "two flaps down" sign while Lauren bumps the pass to the setter.
___________________________________________________________________Here Glav gets airborne to deliver the goods.
Jess Farr (22) looks on while Allie Walsh checks in for Laura.
Nicole looks pleased with the outcome of the last play, nothing unlucky about 13...
___________________________________________________________________Siena Mamayek attacks the net aggressively.
The best part of sports can be sharing quality time. Here the Wiesens get together after the game.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Rank Has Its Privileges

Photos by Don Norris. Click photos to ENLARGE.

Melrose embarked on an extended road swing, traveling to Hamilton-Wenham Regional High School today to meet the Generals. Earlier today, the Lady Raiders climbed into the Division II Volleyball rankings of the Boston Herald, assuming fifth place. Not exactly the BCS, but deserving recognition of the team's accomplishments. But they did not rest on their laurels, waxing the Generals 25-12, 25-18, and 25-16.

Melrose has clinched at least a tie for the Middlesex League title as they lead Reading by two with just two games remaining in the ML. Reading, according to the online scoreboard, took another beating, 3-0 at the hands of North Reading.

Melrose dominated Game 1 with plenty of opportunities for everyone to see action. HW led 1-0 and 2-1, but Melrose then assumed control. Unofficially, Melrose had twelve kills in Game 1, led by Hannah Brickley with five and Nicole Glavin with four.

Game 2 wasn't any different, as Melrose got out to a 16-8 and 23-11 lead, before some garbage time points brought HW to a respectable 25-18 defeat. The killing fields were fairly evenly distributed among Laura Irwin, Leslie Hirschfeld, Nicole, and Siena Mamayek got her first varsity kill.

Melrose wasn't about to let down in Game 3, and romped to a 12-2 lead, as Hannah again dominated at the net. Laura Irwin racked up 7 service points in game three including four aces. With Melrose leading 23-11, again the team had opportunities for extended playing time for reserves.

Lady Raider Notes: The team has two remaining road games this week, with a big finish coming next week with North Andover, Arlington Catholic (next Saturday) and the wrapup Jamboree at Masco. Melrose should handily win both the ML and the North Shore League titles, and has opportunities for a number of possible individual honors as well. The team can challenge the 2005 team for an undefeated 20-0 regular season, and hopes to go after the school record of 24 victories.

Hannah Brickley shows the athleticism and timing which have made her the latest in a series of dominant middle hitters over the years. The two photos are taken 0.2 seconds apart, with Hannah's jump, and rejection of the enemy spike.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

If It Ain't Broke, Don't Fix It

Click photos to ENLARGEPhotos from Don Norris...

Were these three contiguous photos were from a triple-burst, which would have taken less than one second on the Norris Nikon? You'd certainly think so.

But reviewing the shooting data, Don finds two minutes between the first and second frames, and another one before the third.

Lesson? When a play works, relentlessly exploit it. As a result, outside hitter Nicole Glavin scored three consecutive points in a few minutes, each on arching cross-court sets from Colleen Hanscom. If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Lady Raiders Bang Out Another Solid Win

Burlington has a three-year history in Middlesex League play, and has improved greatly, but not enough to challenge Melrose at Marcoux Gym. The visitors played well at times, but Melrose rolled 25-5, 25-14, and 25-18 to remain unbeaten at 14-0 atop both the Middlesex League and the North Shore League.

Melrose rolled out a different lineup today with Lauren Howe wearing the libero shirt and Jess Farr on back row defense. Gina Ciccone was back in the lineup shaking off some minor illness as well. Additionally, a pair of JV players got field promotions, with Siena Mamayek and Allie Walsh moved up to varsity. The lineup may have changed slightly, but the results were the same. Melrose transformed a 3-3 tie into a 22-3 lead with 18 consecutive service points for Hannah Brickley.

Game 2 saw the Red Devils fire out to a 2-0 lead, before Melrose responded. The teams battled to level at 13, when Melrose ran off ten consecutive points to ice the game. Allie Walsh got her first varsity action in this game, and Kelly O'Neill made a couple of sharp digs in the back row. Hannah chipped in with five kills to lead the scoring parade.

Melrose seized the advantage in Game 3, with an early 8-1 lead, spearheaded by seven service points by Leslie Hirschfeld. Laura Irwin had a pair of thunderous slams from the outside, and Nicole Glavin had several artistic hits as well. Annmarie Wiesen drilled home a pair of kills, and Siena Mamayek got her first varsity entry.

Score by Periods

Melrose--- 25 25 25

Burlington 5 14 18

Lady Raider Notes: Melrose stretched its winning streak to fourteen, the longest since its twenty-four game winning streak in 2005. Next week Melrose goes on the road for a trio of 'distance' games, going to its farthest destinations, Hamilton-Wenham, Watertown, and Belmont.

Lady Raider alumnae continue to participate in volleyball after high school. Erin Hudd is a senior middle hitter for the UMASS-Lowell River Hawks. Merry Hayward plays for the Westfield State Owls. Andrea Basteri starred for Emmanuel before becoming volleyball coach at Watertown.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Melrose Volleyball in Pictures

The photographer's eye never rests. More Melrose volleyball shots from Don Norris. Click photos to ENLARGE.

The new home for Melrose volleyball gets its finishing touches as the bleachers are installed. Plenty of room for more banners to add to the Lady Raiders' collection.
Sophomores have contributed mightiliy to the success of the 2007 volleyball team. Here Alex Harlow has her eye on the ball.
From left to right, libero Jessica Farr, Lauren Howe (6), Alex Harlow, and Hannah Brickley.
A successful team has a lot of moving parts. And as everyone knows, none are more important than players' mothers. Most high schoolers haven't learned that motherhood is the only job that comes with no vacation. __________________________________________________________________Nicole Glavin continued her fine play against Stoneham and Reading.
______________________________________________________________Hannah Brickley has controlled the middle of the court this year in leading Melrose to thirteen consecutive wins. You can't win at chess, checkers, baseball, basketball, football, or volleyball without dominating up the middle.
Defender Kelly O'Neill has been excelled in the back row defense this season for Melrose.
___________________________________________________________________The future stars of Melrose volleyball get their start here, on the Junior Varsity. Are we having fun yet? Sure looks like it.
___________________________________________________________________Sophomore Jess Farr may be a rookie at libero, but nobody would confuse her play with that of a novice.
___________________________________________________________________Who would have guessed that the Reading contest would have been anything but hotly contested?
___________________________________________________________________Hannah (25) and Gina Ciccone put up a double block at the 7'4" net, stifling the Reading attack. Reading could muster only 27 points during the three games yesterday, as in effect Melrose recaptured the Middlesex League volleyball crown.

In sports, we often talk about the grip we have on the ball. But as Jim Bouton wrote years ago in Ball Four, we don't often recognize the grip that the ball has on us.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Lady Raiders Ground Rockets with Stunning Victory

Although Melrose versus Reading hasn't achieved the status of Red Sox-Yankees or Celtics-Lakers circa 1986, the top two Middlesex League volleyball teams have battled for ML supremacy almost every year. Last year the Rockets captured the ML crown, and Melrose had a chance to put the glass slipper back on today at the Marcoux Gym.

And the ladies made the fairy tale victory happen, crushing the Rockets 25-4, 25-9, and 25-14, leaving no doubt about contenders versus pretenders. From virtual box to wire, Melrose led, with Reading's only lead on the day a 1-0 start, followed by Melrose winning 24 of the next 25 points. Melrose's victory gives them a 13-0 overall record, and virtually insurmountable two game lead on Reading, with Melrose having face all of the quality ML opposition this season.

Laura Irwin had her biggest day as a Lady Raider with three first game kills, and several thunderous kills rattling off defenders reminiscent of big hitters like Erin Hudd and Karen Sen. Her partner in anti-missile technology was middle hitter Hannah Brickley who had a host of blocks and key kills that buried Reading. The first game also was dominated by a flurry of service points from Leslie Hirschfeld and Colleen Hanscom.

Game 2 was no less a rout, as Melrose led 9-0, 14-3, and 22-4, as nearly everything came up roses for the Red and White, and practically everything went wrong for Reading, including long attacks, mis-hits, and even a few whiffed hits.

Reading got a little measure of respectability in Game 3, after trailing 12-4, closing to 18-12 before Melrose put the hammer down and sent them to re-entry mode with a 4-0 run to open it to 22-12 and remove all doubt.

Everyone played well today, with Gina Ciccone's return paying dividends defensively, Hannah, Nicole Glavin, and Leslie dominating at the net, Jess Farr and Lauren Howe nearly flawless on back row defense, and Colleen racking up service points and assists.

Several observers noted that Leslie delivered the ball at the net with authority today, and that Laura Irwin stepped up her game as well. Hannah had a pair of consecutive blocks in the third stanza that kept Reading from getting any momentum.

Coach Scott Celli was ebullient after the game about his team's performance, pleased with all aspects of their performance.

Lady Raider Notes: Melrose had only two service errors on the day, and allowed very few balls to hit the floor today. Most remarkable is the progress the team has made with a core including not only the seniors who have experienced longer-term success, but with a quartet of sophomore seeing extended court time - middle hitter Hannah Brickley, setter Colleen Hanscom, Jess Farr at libero, and outside hitter Laura Irwin.

Melrose hosts Burlington Friday.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Stoneham Falls, But Reading Awaits

The Lady Raiders resumed their assault on the Middlesex and North Shore League crown today, downing Stoneham at Stoneham 3-0. The victory brings Melrose to 12-0, 8-0 in the Middlesex League.

Stoneham featured a number of powerful servers, although Melrose's serve-receive game coped well with this. Unfortunately, Melrose seemed to be looking past Stoneham for much of the first two games, scoring most of its points on Stoneham errors, rather than winners, en route to a pair of 25-14 wins in the first two games. Alex Harlow filled in capably for Gina Ciccone, who was unavailable, and Gina's absence surely contributed to some of the issues.

Melrose got their rhythm going in game 3, allowing far fewer balls to hit the floor, with better passing and a higher percentage of kills. The final score in game 3 was something like 25-9.

Among the leaders of the day, Hannah Brickley continued her outstanding contributions and Nicole Glavin had another excellent outing in her breakout season. Colleen Hanscom has used her athleticism to advantage in her inaugural season at varsity setter, and Jess Farr's work at libero has made her virtually error free.

Melrose hosts Reading tomorrow in what could be the title showdown. Last season the Rockets wrested the league title away from Melrose, and the Lady Raiders look to return the trophy to the Melrose case this season. Melrose topped Reading 3-2 earlier this season, and you can be sure that both teams will be looking to put on their best for the fans.

The Melrose-Reading rivalry has produced some terrific games through the years, Melrose beating Reading with a final game 37-35 score several years ago, Reading demolishing Melrose at the Masco jamboree, only to have Melrose rebound with a playoff Division II North semifinal victory at Reading en route to Melrose's second Division II North title. Last season, Reading stopped Melrose with a controversial five game victory at Reading with a key outside the line call (captured by the MMTV crew) turning around the momentum in Game V.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Let's See

Click photographs to ENLARGE (photos courtesy of Don Norris)

The Melrose Lady Raiders volleyball team has enjoyed a wonderful start to the 2007 campaign, going undefeated so far, and qualifying for the state post season tournament.

Season Summary

North Shore League 11-0

Middlesex League 7-0

The New England Patriots, winners of three Super Bowls in six years, award the practice player of the week the 'black jersey'. Coach Belichick recognizes that In addition to honing their own skills, players who work hard simulating specific opponents or just challenging starting players make great contributions to victory.

And so it is in all levels of athletics. Not every player will get as much court time, face time, or 'statistics' but everyone can contribute to winning through positive attitude and teamwork.

A successful team has a lot of moving parts contributing to its success...we celebrate just a few of them here. Lydia Ciccone has spearheaded the MMTV production seen on Melrose Channel 15.

Everyone knows how much time coaches sacrifice to prepare their team for every opponent. Not everyone knows how much work that means for their families. Here Coach Steve Wall's wife Heidi ponders the action.
Just as in life, you can never know what each game will hold
Melrose has enjoyed a strong relationship between the volleyball and the basketball programs, as both enjoy perennial success in both the regular season and tournament play. This season the Lady Raiders again have numerous multisport athletes. For example, Laura Irwin (17), Hannah Brickley, Colleen Hanscom, Annmarie Wiesen, and Siena Mamayek all play important roles in both the volleyball and basketball programs. Gina Ciccone is a terrific softball player. Melrose has been lucky to have a history of versatile athletes succeeding on and off the court.
Colleen Hanscom (14) and Hannah Brickley go up for the double block. Colleen's height and jumping ability has added additional versatility for her defensively. Hannah has been Melrose's most consistent blocker for the past two seasons. Both are sophomores with many more battles ahead of them.
Everyone has a defensive role. Here Gina (5) goes up to block the tip, Leslie Hirschfeld defends the middle, and Colleen (14) is ready in case the dink gets over the front row.

The volleyball net is 7'4" in women's volleyball. Here you see Hannah getting up with good timing to block. Defenders ideally have spread fingers and penetrate the net.
Coach Scott Celli recently notched his 200th varsity win. Celli coached at Avon before coming to Melrose. The coach has led Melrose to the D2 North title game for the past four seasons, including three D2 North championships. This year he has guided a very young Lady Raider team to eleven consecutive victories.
Sophomore Libero Jess Farr has had an excellent campaign for Melrose. Read about the Libero here. Jess follows in the tradition of excellence for Melrose's libero, succeeding the Dillon sisters, Kerry and Laura.
Volleyball has a tradition of each team congratulating the other following the match. The Lady Raiders have been fortunate to be on the winning side more often than not. Over the past five seasons Melrose has an 83-8 regular season record and a total record of 95-12.

Even more important, Melrose has won the MIAA Sportsmanship Trophy for team sportsmanship and spirit in the past. The ladies thanks the community for their fantastic support during the regular season, annual car wash fundraiser, and tournament games.
Successful coaches are educators. The three hallmarks of Melrose's program have been emphasis on family, school, and sports, in that order. Here Laura Irwin hits the books as hard as she hits the volleyball.

Let's see how far we've come...