Tuesday, September 30, 2008

State Rankings

From Maxpreps

Photo Group 1: Melrose - North Reading

Click photos to ENLARGE

Melrose topped North Reading in a classic at the Melrose Veterans' Memorial Middle School. Don Norris captures the essence in pictures.Siena Mamayek attacks the net, while Jess Farr, Colleen Hanscom, and Annemarie Wiesen defend.
Freshman Jill Slababacheski attacks while Hannah Brickley and Siena look on.
Hannah puts up the 'roof' while Jill and Siena defend.
The JVs celebrate their big sisters' win and the stands erupt in relief.

Match Report from Don Norris

Don Norris, one of our regular contributors, also provides his overview of yesterday's match.

The Melrose Lady Raiders had to come from 'way behind last Monday to maintain their season-long undefeated skein. The match, against Division Three powerhouse North Reading was played in Melrose in the new Veterans' Memorial school gym.

North Reading came to town with some dozen very strong, very athletic, well-drilled troops -- who managed to put Melrose down in the first two of the five-set series. The locals were shocked with their guests' smooth, powerful play, but rose to the occasion in game three.

The key for the Raiders was middle hitter All-Star Hannah Brickley, who powered hit after hit from her center position. And when North Reading put three blockers up, Hannah flummoxed the opposition with tightly-placed dinks. Laura Irwin provided some variety to Brickley's on-slaught, picking up valuable points going down the line.

The Raiders entered the competition minus one of their strongside hitters when Athena Ziavras, a rising sophomore, incurred a knee injury on the day before the North Reading match. Taking her place was a freshman from Coach Scott Celli's jayvees, Jill Slabascheski.

Lady Raiders Defeat Injury Bug, Hornets in Instant Classic

Melrose rallied from a 2-0 deficit to extend their regular season winning streak to 31 games with a classic 3-2 victory over the North Reading Hornets. North Reading has been a Division III power for several years.

Melrose hosted a very intense, large and vocal crowd, long volleys and a win, what could be better!

Scoring summary:
Set 1: N Reading 25-21
Set 2: N Reading 25-12
Set 3: Melrose 25-19
Set 4: Melrose 25-17
Set 5: Melrose 15-10

As I was unable to attend, I'll pass along comments from a volleyball veteran:

The game really started Sunday night when Athena Ziavras went down with a knee injury. With Allie Walsh nursing an injured shoulder, Allysa DiRaffaele a sprained ankle, Alex Harlow a hand injury, freshman Jill Slabacheski took Athena's spot at the net and Jess Farr assumed her serving. Both stepped up.

It took about 5 high fives and low fives with Hannah Brickley to get Jill to smile though!

North Reading came in with a group of very strong and athletic girls. They were getting good sets all over the first game. Melrose was tight, with 4 serving errors, and too many three balls. Still the set was close, back and forth. The Hornets struck first.
Second set, N Reading had the momentum, Melrose sought an answer, but they could never get a run going. They never scored consecutive points until points 10-11-12. Melrose faced a wall of worry.

The third set looked bleak- NR capturing two points. Melrose rallied and plowed on. Aggressive at the net, the defense swarmed the Hornets, and the offense had only one service error. They slowly were getting it together!

Almost every point was a battle- great action- the crowd loved it. JV parents finally saw why volleyball has become a premier sport locally. Kelly O'Neill, Alex (with sore thumb), and Jess worked the back row. Siena Mamayek had some great moments, some key points. Laura Irwin assumed her powerful hitting groove.
Fourth set- 4 Aces, 2 by Jess, 2 by Annemarie Weisen. Jess, serving for the first time this season did a great job. Still N Reading defense was awesome, but Melrose kept pounding the ball and gained the offensive; the volleys were tremendous. Somehow Melrose beat them by 8, although it seemed closer.

Fifth set- Melrose came out hot with a trio of points. N Reading seemed a little subdued, we kept pounding, they kept buzzing, but Melrose lead the whole way and got the job done! 2 Aces in that game also 1 by Annemarie and 1 by Siena.
Definitely a great team victory, recalling some great matches like Dracut in 2002 playoffs, Reading 2004 (37-35 final set), and Andover and Central Catholic in 2005.

Jill gets a lot of credit, with 7 or 8 attacks and improving with each one.Siena had good game,Ann Marie served well,Jess served well and excelled on 'd', Kelly returned some nasty serves. And of course, veterans Hannah, Colleen Hanscom, and Laura all brought leadership and playmaking.

N Reading showed outstanding enthusiasm and sportsmanship. Last year's league MVP Alison Friberg dominated. Two girls, Kirsten Morrison and Taylor Dyer were starters that Colleen, Laura and Hannah had played with on Pumas.

Overall, a great victory as the team moves toward the playoffs.

V-ball Gets Some Love

Boston Globe coverage

Friday, September 26, 2008

Volleyball from Terry Bleiler

Melrose photographer Terry Bleiler was very kind to provide additional photographs for Melrose volleyball fans. Enjoy.

Volleyball can make you smile.
Siena Mamayek lines up a serve.
Colleen Hanscom could establish an all-time Melrose assist record.
Hannah Brickley pushes a shot deep to the Reading defense.
Colleen shows good form.
Hannah lines up a blast.
Colleen, Laura Irwin, Siena, and Annmarie Wiesen
Siena and Colleen go up for the block.
Athena Ziavras goes for an attack.
Laura's got hops.
Kelly O'Neill checks in for Siena
Libero Jess Farr on the defense.
Melrose's first fan, Mayor Rob Dolan makes the match a family affair.
The next generation of Melrose volleyball.
The early season Melrose Lady Raider junior varsity.

Melrose Goes to 9-0, Take Down Marauders 3-0

Melrose finished the West Coast swing on the year, thrashing the Lady Marauders 3-0 after traveling in monsoon conditions. The win brings Melrose to 9-0 and extends their undefeated regular season record to thirty.

Melrose took down the Jolly Roger 25-8, 25-2, and 25-12 to move to 9-0, with the big game of the season thus far against North Reading next week. Melrose displayed consistency through most of the games, and limited service errors to three, while younger players got extended time. Melrose went out 10-3 and 21-4 en route to a rout in set one. Laura Irwin continued her killing spree with four in the early going and Hannah Brickley had a trio of aces. Unfortunately, Alyssa DiRaffaele went out with an injury late in the game.

Set two brought total domination with the Lady Raiders jumping out to 4-1 and 23-1 advantages. Colleen Hanscom had a fourteen point service run and three aces. Unofficially, Jill Slabacheski had her first varsity kill and Melrose exploded for fourteen kills including six for Hannah and four for sophomore Athena Ziavras.

Set three was more of the slam, with Belmont putting up more than token resistance. Belmont closed to 10-9 before Melrose went on a 7-0 run to get separation. Laura added another quartet of kills. Laura also added a long service run.

The Lady Raiders have staked out some positive territory for seeding as they prepare for the post-season. Next week's matchup against the North Reading Hornets should be the challenge the Melrose needs to make gains against legitimate competition

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Lady Raiders on 'West Coast' Swing, Top Watertown 3-0

Watertown's gymnasium was new, but the results were the same as Melrose thumped Watertown 3-0, winning 25-6, 25-9, 25-11. The match afforded plenty of opportunity for the younger players to gather experience. The match lasted 47 minutes. .

Laura Irwin led in set one with four kills, ably abetted by Athena Ziavras with a pair. Hannah Brickley added 8 service points. Melrose had a pair of service errors in the set.

Set two saw another rout, with Melrose ahead 20-5, with more liberal substitution. Melrose had only six kills but eight aces as Watertown struggled with serve-receive. Laura had another three kills while Alyssa DiRaffaele added a pair.

Setter Colleen Hanscom highlighted the third set and again there were few kills as Watertown struggled in all facets of the game. Melrose trailed 4-1 before an 18-1 run put the game far out of reach at 19-5. Colleen had a dozen service points.

The victory runs Melrose's regular season winning streak to 29 and the Lady Raiders move to 8-0 as they remain undefeated in the Middlesex League having defeated Reading, Stoneham, Lexington, Burlington, and Watertown. They have yet to face Belmont and expansion team Winchester.

The biggest early season hurdle comes next week as Melrose hosts North Reading. The Hornets have been a perennial power in Division III and the Cape Ann League.

Melrose travels to Belmont Friday to face the Marauders at 4 P.M.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Melrose - Peabody Volleyball Photoessay

Click photographs to ENLARGE.

Melrose traveled to Peabody to extend its regular season winning streak to 28 games. I suspect that this is the longest in school history. Don Norris brings us a photoessay of the event. Hannah Brickley uses a bullet overhead for the kill, with Athena Ziavras (left), Annmarie Wiesen (34) and Colleen Hanscom (14) looking on.
Laura Irwin blasts one home.
Siena Mamayek (24) sends one in on the block.
Younger players have made big contributions to Melrose's success through the years. Alyssa DiRaffaele's entry for Hannah gets well documented.
Alyssa (7) and Jill Slabacheski (8) made their varsity debuts, but the timing on the double block needs a little work. :)
Alyssa and Athena go for the block.
Siena smashes while several teammates look on.
Setter Colleen Hanscom is a tri-captain and team leader.
Alyssa gets her first varsity kill.
Another attack by the freshman DiRaffaele.
First varsity win for the frosh, but it's old hat for Siena (R), Coach Celli, and Hannah.
Melrose has had some outstanding students. Siena catches up on her schoolwork and has considered engineering.
Senior tri-captain Kelly O'Neill has a nose for the books, too.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Tanners Have Nowhere to Hide, Melrose Romps 3-0

Melrose moved to 7-0 with a three set victory over the Peabody Tanners today in Peabody. The Lady Raiders overwhelmed Division I Peabody 25-8, 25-16, and 25-12 with heavy contributions from reserves.

Set one saw outstanding play from setter Colleen Hanscom digging off the net and the debuts of Melrose's newest frosh varsity, Alyssa DiRaffaele and Jill Slabacheski. Melrose went up 16-4 and never looked back. Laura Irwin had four kills in the game.

Set two saw Melrose also up 16-4 with reserves getting action late. Melrose had a bevy of kills including five apiece for Hannah Brickley and Laura. Alyssa got her first varsity kill.

During set three Melrose extended their domination with another ten kills and another big, early lead at 17-5.

Today's match saw the cleanest all-around three games that Melrose has played this season. In addition to Laura's unofficial fourteen kills, sophomore outside hitter Athena Ziavras had a solid game. The back row defense improved the serve-receive game so critical to success.

Melrose had come into this week with only ten varsity players, and the addition of two freshmen provides for a full complement of twelve players allowing for optimal scrimmaging and faster development of younger players. Underclassmen have always played an important role in Melrose, providing both talent and competition.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Looking Around

You never know where you might find a former Lady Raider. Here Paula Sen shows she still has some ups on the Dartmouth 2009 calendar, in front of Baker Library. She's in a game with members of the Dartmouth varsity volleyball team, although she's not playing college sports.

The Volleyball Experience: Catch It

Click photos to ENLARGE. Photos by Don Norris.

Melrose hosted Burlington yesterday at the Melrose Veterans Memorial Middle School. Yes, Melrose came away with a win and winning counts. But at end of the day, Melrose volleyball is about the players and their families and the community. These young ladies, their family, and the coaching staff sacrifice time to make a difference. Don Norris put together a collage of the faces of Melrose volleyball.

Every picture tells a story. The fans, the players, the families, friendships, the game. The photographs blend the past, the present, and the future.