Saturday, November 15, 2008

Medfield Captures Division 2 Title, Crushes Central

Medfield crushed Central today, 25-18, 25-18, 25-14 to win yet another state title. Medfield defeated Melrose in five sets in 2005 in Melrose's previous appearance in the championship game.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Hannah Brickley named All-State

Hannah Brickley once again was named to the Massachusetts Girls Volleyball Coaches all-state team. A three-year starter Hannah has led her team to three Division II North finals and two Middlesex League titles.

Congratulations on a richly deserved honor.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Melrose-Central Photoessay

Click photos to ENLARGE.

Melrose faced long odds against an undefeated Central Catholic team, a regional team that draws from many communities, and has a proud basketball tradition. Central prevailed for the second consecutive season, but moves to Division 1 next season.

Don Norris shows his pictorial magic once again in documenting the experience.
Melrose had plenty of unity and spirit, but some critical injuries as well.
_________________________________________________Melrose had some big shoes to fill...
...with Laura Irwin sidelined with an ankle injury.
At times Melrose was helpless as 6/2" Katie Z. tips over the block
Sophomore Athena Ziavras went after the slam aggressively.
_______________________________________________________Siena Mamayek goes up against the Central block while the defense crouches ready.
Hannah Brickley was outstanding on both offense and defense, with Alex Harlow and libero Jess Farr (22)nearby.
As always, Melrose brought a large and enthusiastic crowd. Notice the low ceiling that contributed to EIGHTEEN balls played off the overhead and many near misses.
____________________________________________________________Hannah had a big task with the Central blocking.
Hannah hitting into the teeth of the block.
Siena had a big year with another year of experience.

Freshman Jill Slabacheski (8) gained valuable experience in her first sectional championship.
Colleen Hanscom is a force as setter and defender.
Athena spikes.
Siena is the picture of concentration.
There MUST be a story behind this picture.
Jess Farr had an outstanding season at libero.
The lead offiicial gives the Central coach a yellow card. The officials deserved a yellow card for having a very consistent but poor outing concerning line calls and net violations. Melrose was the beneficiary of more than their share of calls.
Hannah tips over Central's athletic duo of Zenevitch and Berg.
The Lady Raider captains accept the finalist trophy from an MIAA official.
The team shows its disappointment after a valiant effort but third consecutive runnerup performance in the sectionals. They showed heart and toughness of which they should be proud.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Central Tops Melrose in D2 North Final

Melrose made its sixth consecutive trip to Andover's Dunn Gymnasium but came up short against a tall and athletic Central Catholic squad, losing 14-25, 25-23, 23-25, and 20-25. Melrose finishes the season 22-3, tieing the 2003 team (22-2) with 22 wins for second place behind the 24-1 2005 team. Central moves on to the State semis Thursday at Algonquin.

I have seen many of Melrose's matches since 2002 and most of the big games over that span including all six D2 North finals. I have not seen a MORE dominant overall performance than the one that Hannah Brickley put on this evening, with everything from offensive and defensive net play to digging in the back row and hitting back row consistently. Central Catholic denied this Lady Raiders team and Hannah their first championship. She has become Melrose's Paul Pierce as she richly deserves a place near or at the top among the pantheon of Melrose's best athletes...ever.

Central dominated the first set despite five kills from Hannah, jumping out to an 8-3 lead before Melrose closed to 8-6. A Central run opened the lead to 13-6 and Melrose never really threatened.

Set two displayed a seesaw battle with Central usually on the long end, including leads of 19-15 and 21-16. Melrose closed to 21-18 and after a Central point, Melrose went on a spurt to lead 23-22 before the game was knotted at 23. On the next point, Hannah made a spectacular back to the net leaping reverse kill into the center of the defense for the point with Central unable to return the next point as Melrose evened sets at one. Hannah had nine kills (unofficially) in the frame, including 5 of the last 7 points.

Hannah wasn't the only one doing the lifting, as Colleen Hanscom's steadily set at championship level, Jess Farr had a wonderful game at libero, and Athena Ziavras had one of her best games. Siena Mamayek defended well at the net and overall the team played very well. Making no excuses, I noted Laura Irwin's absence with an ankle fracture as important.

Melrose had its chances in set three leading 19-15 and 21-18 before Central rallied back. In the warm gymnasium, both teams began to show wear and tear. Hannah added another incredible nine kills.

In the final game, Melrose and Central continued to battle hammer and tong with Melrose's last lead at 14-9. The Central offense wore down Melrose with versatile play from 6'2" BC scholarhip hoopster Katie Zenevitch and the crafty setting of Carolyn Eddy. Siena continued her solid defense at the net and Hannah put up another half dozen kills including the first four points.

From a technical standpoint, I have several observations. The officiating was terrible, although not necessarily against Melrose. The officials refused to call over the net, an obvious violation on numerous occasions. The line calls by one official were questionable including a key call to tie the score at 23 in the third set (in Melrose's favor) on a ball easily four inches (if not more) wide. The Central coach received a yellow card warning for protesting that call.

Additionally, the facility at Andover (the same for both teams) saw 18 balls go into the concrete overhead/rafters. I have written to the MIAA to complain about facilities before and never even received the courtesy of a reply. The MIAA should strongly consider moving the sectional finals to a gym with a higher ceiling.

Congratulations to the 2008 Lady Raiders on a memorable season. Individual honors will surely follow as well. Once again you have made us proud.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Melrose - Greater Lawrence Photoessay

Click photos to ENLARGE.

Our volleyball girls make memories for themselves and the Melrose community and Don Norris captures them and shares with us. Annemarie Wiesen (34) and Siena Mamayek share a light moment on the court. Like many Melrose volleyballers, both are not only standout athletes but terrific students.
Athena Ziavras attacks while Siena (24) and setter Colleen Hanscom stand ready.
Hannah Brickley leads the defense and the offense.
The defense never rests. Left to right, Kelly O'Neill, Alex Harlow, and Jess Farr.
_______________________________________________________Youth will be served. Sophomore Athena with freshmen Alyssa DiRaffaele and Jill Slabacheski.
The future is now for (left to right) Jill, Alyssa, and Athena.
First year player Sophomore Bridget Corso made an impact at the net and with the digs, too.
"Jill the Thrill" goes for the kill.
Fathers love watching their daughters compete. Howard Hanscom has plenty of experience watching and filming.

Tomorrow (Saturday) Melrose for their first D2 North title since 2005, going to Andover's Dunn Gymnasium for the sixth consecutive sectional championship final.

Get One for Yourself

Teams are remembered not only for who they are but for what they accomplish. Get one!


Last year's D2 North Final stills...Melrose vs. Central.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Melrose Advances to D2 North Finals, Top Greater Lawrence 3-0

For the sixth consecutive year, the Melrose Lady Raiders advance to the Division 2 North championship, as they travel to Greater Lawrence and top the previously undefeated Reggies 3-0. Melrose overcame adversity, the loss of All-Star Laura Irwin with a fractured ankle, using a variety of combinations to survive and advance.

Melrose got out to a quick lead 7-0 behind a service run by Siena Mamayek, abetted by two quick kills by All-State middle Hannah Brickley. The Reggies closed to within 11-4, only to have Melrose gradually pull away to a 25-13 win. Among the highlights were eight kills by Hannah and a pair apiece from Siena Mamayek and freshman Jill Slabacheski.

Set two saw another early Melrose lead 6-0, and overall dominance in a 25-12 win. Hannah added another five kills and Siena four, in one of her best games of the season.

Melrose gained strength and confidence as the evening wore on, leading 7-0 and 15-4 in the third set. Sophomore Bridget Corso had a highlight dig early in the set, as she made her presence felt on both offense and defense, despite being a first year player to the sport. The athleticism of the young Lady Raiders was on display with Melrose's pair of freshmen and sophomores as well as the more experienced juniors and the lone senior, Kelly O'Neill. Hannah had another four kills in the frame and Siena tallied another trio.

Coach Scott Celli felt that the game was one of the strongest of the season for Melrose, especially considering the patchwork lineups necessitated by Laura's injury.

Melrose will play Central Catholic Saturday in the D2 North finals at Andover at 4:00 P.M. Last year Central beat Melrose to capture the sectional title.

Lady Raider fans wish Laura a speedy recovery from her injury.

D2 North Semifinals Tonight

Always verify directions.

Here is what I come up with from Main Street to Greater Lawrence.

Melrose looks to move on to the D2 North Sectional championship for the sixth consecutive year as they face Greater Lawrence.

Greater Lawrence beat Greater Lowell twice this season, 3-1 and 3-0. Melrose handily defeated the Greater Lowell Gryphons Monday night.

Melrose may be missing Middlesex League All-Star Outside hitter Laura Irwin with an injury.

Hope to see you there, schedules permitting.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Melrose Moves to Semis

Melrose (21-2) hosted the Greater Lowell Gryphons (13-8) and easily moved into the D2 North Semifinals with a 25-6, 25-13, 25-11. Melrose will face the winner of Greater Lawrence and O'Bryant Thursday.

Melrose quickly went out 8-0 as the Gryphons seemed intimidated by the quicker, taller Lady Raiders and the large playoff crowd. Melrose extended its lead to 15-3 and 24-4 before closing out the set. Athena Ziavras had four kills with Hannah Brickley and Siena Mamayek both adding a trio and Laura Irwin a pair.

Set two saw more of the same with Melrose liberally substituting in their entire roster. Laura had five kills, Hannah four, and the freshmen, Jill Slabacheski and Alyssa DiRaffaele each added a kill to their playoff resume.

Melrose finished the match with another quick 13-3 lead mostly with Greater Lawrence errors. It was a total team effort with a timely kill from Kelly O'Neill finishing the rout. Particularly noteworthy was the usual strong effort from setter Colleen Hanscom.

The easy playoff win helps get Melrose back on the track after some recent unevenness. If the seeding holds, Melrose will travel to Greater Lawrence on Thursday. An O'Bryant win will bring another home game to the Melrose Veterans Memorial Middle School.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Postseason Begins Tomorrow

Click photos to ENLARGE. These excellent photos courtesy of Don Norris and Terry Bleiler.

You play for all the girls of Melrose volleyball past and create a legacy for the future of Melrose volleyball. I had only four words for my daughters before every game, "play hard; have fun". The rest takes care of itself.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Playoff Preview

Melrose hosts Greater Lowell Monday night at 7 P.M. at the Melrose Veterans Memorial Middle School Gymnasium.

The visiting Gryphons come in with a 13-7 record.

Melrose brings a 20-2 record to the quarterfinal, led by North Shore and Middlesex League Player of the Year Hannah Brickley, with fellow all-stars setter Colleen Hanscom, Jess Farr, and Laura Irwin. Despite having only one senior, Melrose again won at least twenty games, and took Barnstable to a 25-23 battle in their final set against the perennial state champions.

Coach Scott Celli's Lady Raiders look to move on toward a sixth consecutive appearance in the Division II North finals, likely against highly rated Central Catholic, who are heavily favored to advance to the sectional finals.

Something for the Lady Raider moms (video ends @ 3:45