Monday, November 23, 2009

Final Maxpreps Massachusetts Rankings

Final Massachusetts rankings.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Special Recognition: Now and Then

Click media to play/enlarge.

This season's team created memories and landmark accomplishments. In addition to a Division 2 North Championship brought back to Melrose...the players got well-deserved special recognition.

Middlesex League All-Stars
All-League Team
Hannah Brickley (League MVP)
Laura Irwin
Jess Farr
Colleen Hanscom

Second Team (Middlesex League)
Alex Harlow
Athena Ziavras

MGVCA Division 2 All-State Team
Hannah Brickley (three time selection)
Colleen Hanscom (first time selection and fourth Melrose player so honored)

Boston Globe All-Scholastics
Hannah Brickley (Division 2 Player of the Year)

One individual who deserves a lot of credit (and asks for none), is assistant coach Steve Wall. He shares in the success of Coach Celli (Division 2 Coach of the Year) along with another fixture of Melrose volleyball, his wife Heidi.

Several fans asked me if I had any old video from the 2005 season...and I was able to retrieve part of the Melrose comeback against Medfield in the state championship game. Medfield captured its fourth state championship in five years yesterday, 3-0 over Bourne.

You might notice several features on this video:
  • the powerful hitting and approach of Medfield's Molly Barrett
  • the spectacular point at 23-21 where Jen Cohane got a concussion as she hit the floor
  • the remarkable hand-eye coordination of setter Amanda she picks the ball off the net
  • the comeback from 23-16 was one of the great sequences of Melrose volleyball, made possible only because the coaches believed in the team

Saturday, November 21, 2009

The Coach

According to the Melrose High School website, Coach Scott Celli has earned Division 2 Coach of the Year status.

Successful coaching blends talent evaluation, teaching, psychology, communication, and politics as the coach serves many constituencies. And guaranteed, not all of those partners will embrace the evaluation and implementation of coaching strategy.

These are just some of Scott's accomplishments during the past seven years:
  • Averaging over 21 wins/season (20 game regular game season)
  • Four Division II North Championships (seven consecutive D2 North final berths)
  • One State Championship appearance
  • MIAA Team sportsmanship award
  • Six Middlesex League Titles/co-titles
  • Player development (one D2 Player of the Year, three All-State players, four All-Scholastic players, three North Shore League players of the year, numerous Middlesex League All-Stars)
  • Numerous players with high academic achievement, both present and past teams
  • High level of community interest
  • Scandal-free program
All this has occurred with an enrollment in the bottom half of the Middlesex League, generally undersized players relative to the competition, no ability to recruit players from outside the community, and no ability to coach outside the regular season.

This doesn't mean that everyone's happy 24/7, because Scott's commitment to winning sometimes steps on the toes of the seniority in a volleyball meritocracy. Consensus development on strategy and deployment of personnel will never achieve universality.

As we review this season, several features stand out:
  1. The team recaptured the Division 2 North title for the first time in four years
  2. The team achieved success despite playing the 'best' non-league schedule in its history, including Central Catholic, Barnstable, Bishop Feehan, and Canton.
  3. Clear evidence of player improvement from the prior year at all grade levels, including the best Melrose Junior Varsity team
  4. Increasing enthusiasm and attendance at matches
  5. Expanded media coverage by MMTV
  6. Development and strengthening of new rivalries
  7. The "win today, win tomorrow" program returns six underclassmen including three sophomores and two freshmen who will be able to contribute immediately
  8. First year with a freshman team
Highest regards to everyone in the community working to create a better experience for our young people.

Friday, November 20, 2009


From the Melrose High School Website:

Important Information

Congratulations are extended to:

  • Division 2 Volleyball Player of the Year Senior Hannah Brickley
  • Division 2 Coach of the Year, Mr. Scott Celli.
Melrose Volleyball celebrates another successful campaign.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Around the Web

Metro West with a recap.

The Free Press with lots of information.

Great team photo and story from the Free Press. latest standings.

Massachusetts assist leaders...Colleen Hanscom at number five.
__________________________________________________________Massachusetts kills leaders, Hannah Brickley in the top ten.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Medfield Overwhelms Snake-Bitten Melrose, 3-0

Melrose returned to the semifinal round for the first time since 2005, and the Lady Raiders had hopes of returning to the state championship Saturday. But Medfield doused those dreams, with suffocating defense and athletic offense, downing Melrose 26-24, 25-16, and 25-12.

The Lady Raiders were gallant in defeat, one hastened by a critical ankle injury to outside hitter Laura Irwin with the team trailing 6-2 in the second set.

Game one challenged my contention about finding a game as close as Saturday's against North Reading. After Medfield captured the first pair of points, the game was tied at 2, 3, 4, 7, 9, 10, 11, 12, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 21, 22, 23, and 24...seventeen ties. With Medfield up 25-24, they got a terrific serve down the strong side on the line to garner the win.

Melrose got yeoman work from Hannah Brickley, with eight kills among Melrose's fourteen, and avoided any service errors. Coach Scott Celli had Annemarie Wiesen in early to get more blocking, and senior middle hitter Siena Mamayek also had a big first game with a pair of kills and some good deflections at the net.

In the second set, there were yet more ties at 1 and 2, before Medfield opened up a 6-2 lead, with Laura accidentally stepping on a teammate's foot during a defensive scramble at the net. Melrose hung in to recover at 8-5, but Medfield gradually pulled away, with stout defense led by Natalie Dickinson and Georgia Naumann at the net, and all-state libero Ally Le-Bruno in back. While Melrose struggled to generate offense, Dickinson, Naumann, and Kathleen Krah and Morganne Gagne slammed away from all angles. Siena had another big game two, with five kills, which I suspect to be her career high for a game. From 15-8, Melrose could never get closer than seven points.

Melrose never quit, coming in game three with some more life, including an early Jill Slabachesky kill. Melrose led 5-3 and 6-4 but at seven all Medfield went on a five point run en route to a 12-1 streak that put Melrose away. Melrose made their only two service errors of the match during the third game, but could muster only four kills for the final set of the season. Coach Scott Celli got freshmen Amanda Commito and Brooke Bell in for the final points of the game, and both acquitted themselves well.

Game analysis: Melrose competed at an exceptional level in set one, but couldn't close out well-balanced Medfield. Hannah had a big opening stanza. Colleen Hanscom played exceptional volleyball as well, especially considering that she was playing with illness. After the tough opening game loss, the last thing Melrose needed was deflation, but Laura's ankle injury took the starch out of Melrose, especially under the relentless pressure provided by Naumann and Dickinson. Melrose didn't give the game away, as Medfield's skill, size, and athleticism showed why they will claim their fourth state title in five years Saturday. They were deserving victors with spectacular defense and remarkable offensive consistency.

Melrose's seniors have much to be proud of, including four consecutive appearances in the Division 2 North championship, a defeat of perennial powerhouse Barnstable, and stiff opposition provided to Division I power Central Catholic. The ladies competed with intensity, grace, and class, and individually numerous players like Hannah, Colleen, and Jess were at or near the top of any ever to play their positions at Melrose. The team won 63 games over the past three seasons, eclipsed only by the 2003-5 teams that won 66.

Hannah Brickley will be the only Lady Raider ever to be named all-state three times and she and Colleen hold the individual career kills and assist records.

Congratulations to the team for bringing success and excitement to the community.


State Semifinal Tonight at Newton South, 7 P.M.

It's not about making fifty plays; you just have to make one more: one serve, one spike, one block, one dig, one deflection, one pass. You never know when that play will happen.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Central Comes 'Home' to Melrose, Slams Quincy 3-0

Melrose High hosted a Division I state semifinal match, and Central Catholic, an annual Lady Raider opponent, put it on the Quincy Presidents, 25-20, 25-15, and 25-20. Central dominated the spunky Presidents, who brought a boatload of enthusiasm, but lacked the power and skill of the undefeated North champion.

Central's powerful offense is built around the brilliant setting of Carolyn Eddy, who also has a variety of jump serves and devastating back row hitting. Add in the triple threat offense of twin towers Katie Zenevitch and Kendall Derosiers, and outside energy of Maggie Hillman and it's easy to see why Central has found limited opposition on their way to the state finals Saturday at Algonquin High School.

The first set featured a plethora of Zenevitch kills, the second demonstrated the overall talent of Central, and Eddy took over the final sets with her serves and overheads after Quincy took their only lead of the evening early 5-1.

Although Eddy's dominance makes Central who they are, Zenevitch has upped her overall game to include not only consistent hitting and blocking, but even added a back row smash for a point. Coach Gannon Paris has some big shoes to fill next season.

Lady Raider Notes: The Melrose team was on hand to assist during the event and the players looked relaxed and confident heading into tomorrow's showdown with defending champion Medfield. Word has it that the Lady Raiders got a plug last evening during the Bruins' game from a friend of the Melrose family, Andy Brickley. Coach Scott Celli noted that he has received a number of emails wishing the team good fortune tomorrow.

Melrose faces Medfield at Newton South at 7 p.m.

Drink up the experience and make some memories of a lifetime tomorrow.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Latest Maxpreps Rankings

Click charts to enlarge.

"Tradition never graduates." That applies for the teams enjoying perennial success in sports including Melrose's upcoming opponents. The excitement in the eyes of the younger girls watching yesterday's action was palpable. And nothing great is achieved without enthusiasm.

Scott Celli's teams have enjoyed an overall winning percentage approaching 90 percent. has its latest rankings out as we head into the final week of the season. Melrose is tied for fifth with Westborough.

Melrose - North Reading D2 North Highlights: Mate' Magic

Jeff Mate' has done a truly magnificent job photographing, editing, and producing Melrose volleyball games this season. Here he's made an incredible turnaround of Melrose highlights from yesterday's action. Bravo Zulu.

Now if we can add music instead of the annoying commentary...

Win Every Day

Understand this and you win every day.

People ask me 'why?'. Because people always treated my children great. How can I not do it?

Next Up: Medfield

Some video from the web:

It's no secret what Medfield likes to do and what Melrose has to stop.

Medfield at Barnstable

Medfield vs Canton

Coming Events

Melrose hosts the Division I State Semifinal with number one ranked Central Catholic squaring off Tuesday night at 7 p.m. against Quincy. Central has a pair of 6'2" hitters in BC bound Katie Zenevich and Kendall Desrosiers, and uber-setter Carolyn Eddy. This should be another opportunity for local v-ball fans to see terrific competition and show why Melrose deserves to be a host site.

Melrose goes in as the underdog Wednesday versus Medfield in one state semifinal, as Medfield has captured three of the past four Division 2 state championships. Medfield has always had terrific defense and this season is no exception.

For the most part, the volleyball elite have continued to show up in the advanced rounds...

Free Press Summary with Great Photos

The Melrose Free Press represents with an article and photos.

Boston Herald Wrap

Boston Herald
reports on the Melrose versus North Reading volleyball title game.

Boston Globe Video

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Melrose Outlasts North Reading, Advances 3-2

Today's game was Frazier-Ali, the Patriots-Rams in the Super Bowl, and "Havlicek stole the ball" combined into a phenomenal volleyball game.

Melrose, appearing in the last seven Division 2 North championship games, came in having won the first three and lost the latter three. Loyal Melrose and North Reading fans packed Andover's Dunn Gymnasium expecting a great match, but probably not a five set battle royal lasting over two hours. The Lady Raiders literally outlasted the Hornets 26-24, 20-25, 19-25, 25-22, and 16-14. The victory propels Melrose into the State Semifinals Wednesday at 7 p.m. against the Medfield Warriors.

Heroes were many, expected and not. Overall, Melrose did not have its 'A' game, partially forced into uncharacteristic errors by North Reading's outstanding middle hitter, junior Kristen Morrison, and partly by the terrific offensive and defensive balance exhibited by North Reading. Melrose also struggled at times in certain rotations, particularly when NR senior Jessica Crugnale served.

Deserving special commendation today were Colleen Hanscom, scampering around chasing serve-receive passes and digs, and Alyssa DiRaffaele, the unsung hero defensively and serving flawless at many of the key junctures of the match. She seemed to have a calmness about her play that exceeded her sophomore experience.

Set one was back and forth with both teams counterpunching. North Reading fought to a 12-7 and 17-11 advantage before Melrose rallied with seven consecutive points with Laura Irwin serving. The game featured ties at 17, 18, 20, 21, 23, and 24 foreshadowing the future action. An Athena Ziavras ace closed out the game. Laura had a big game with four thundering kils, equaling Hannah Brickley's total. Melrose had four aces and eleven kills for the game.

North Reading had the edge in game two, rallying from 4-1 and 6-3 deficits to tie the game at 9. Once again, the teams traded leads with scoring even at 8, 9, 11, 12, and 13 before Morrison took over the game with a series of kills. Melrose got within 17-16, but NR ran off an 8-4 edge to earn the win. Melrose could only muster seven kills, with a pair apiece from Hannah and Siena Mamayek, blocking effectively at the net, and three from Laura.

North Reading started fast in set three with a quick 3-0 lead, before Melrose struck back to go up 6-5. Melrose continue to gain the edge behind three quick Brickley kills, but NR ran off a 10 point spree to put the game away. Melrose had an atypical spell of both defensive errors and passive offense, and North Reading simply overwhelmed Melrose behind the hitting of Morrison and Bailey Eis.

Several observers commented that NR appeared to tire slightly in the fourth game with Melrose racing out to 5-3 and 9-4 leads. Melrose appeared to have the game under control 19-11, but a remarkable NR comeback, again spurred by Morrison, Nicole Cecchini and Eis gave the Hornets a 21-20 advantage. Colleen Hanscom made a couple of incredible defensive plays near the net, including deflecting an overpass for a kill to tie and possibly save the season at 21. Melrose closed out the victory on a North Reading error.

The fifth game reflected the incredible balance between the teams. Hannah Brickley was immense to open the game with a quick kill to the corner and a pair of blocks/kills, including one of the lanky Morrison. The fifth set was tied at 1, 3, 4 and I literally wished for a tape crawling service ace from Hannah, that got delivered to make the lead 7-4. But the Hornets swarmed and rallied, with ties at 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, and 14 (ten ties in the game) before a pair of attack errors by North Reading sailed long and Melrose took the victory.

And the faces and voices of victory expressed as much relief that it was over as joy in having achieved one of the team's goals.
Lady Raider Notes: Faces in the crowd included Jack and Erin Hudd, the latter a standout on Melrose's first D2 North Champion and former UMass-Lowell Riverhawk. The victory gave this group of seniors their first D2 North title after three years of frustration as runnerups.Congratulations to the team, coaching staff, parents and families and fans, as well to a gallant North Reading team that played exceptional volleyball. Were I a NR fan, I would not be equally pleased but equally proud of my team.

Friday, November 13, 2009

From the Web and a Bit More

Wicked Local gives their game summary in Melrose Passes English Exam.

Laura Irwin gears up for North Reading.

Twitter Melrose, I guess.

The Eagle Tribune was all over the matchup.

The Boston Globe.

Lady Raider Notes:
  • Hannah Brickley will become the first Lady Raider to have played in four Division II North championship games.
  • Brickley and setter Colleen Hanscom hold the career records at Melrose for kills and assists respectively.
  • This year's seniors have the opportunity to win their first sectional title tomorrow.
  • If the 2009 team can 'win out' and capture the State Championship, it will be the first for a Melrose volleyball team.
  • The 2009 team can also tie the 2005 team's single season win record of twenty-four victories with three more wins.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Melrose-Boston English Recap*

Melrose started slowly in set one, tied after the first four points, followed by a remarkable 23-1 run including seven aces and eleven service points for Laura Irwin. When Melrose wasn't producing aces, Hannah Brickley fired in six kills abetted by a trio by Laura. The first set was also service error free.

The second game again saw some early sluggishness, but a 5-5 tie morphed into a 20-7 lead via a 15-2 run. Junior Athena Ziavras took the hitting stage, blasting in six kills, while versatile setter Colleen Hanscom had a pair of kills in the 25-11 victory.

Coach Scott Celli started Freshmen Brooke Bell and Amanda Commito, Sophomores Brittany Adelman and Alyssa DiRaffaele, and Seniors Jess Farr and Alex Harlow in set three. Melrose went out to a 10-3 with the youth movement, but Boston English parried with a 16-7 run of its own, before the new sheriff in town restored order behind service from Alyssa and Annmarie Wiesen, the latter acing out the win. Senior Siena Mamayek pounded out three kills while Alyssa had a pair.

The match helped solidify Melrose's twin goals of winning now and winning later, as the quarter and semifinal action afforded plenty of court time for veterans and youth alike. With only two seniors on its squad, Boston English has a chance to grow its program as well.

*Statistics courtesy of Dick Collis

Hornets' Nest

North Reading (21-1), having moved up from D3 to D2 this season, presents a formidable challenge to the (21-1) Lady Raiders. Last season North Reading advanced to the state finals before falling in the championship game.

RallyNorth has an informative site highlighting the Hornets' schedule and game recaps. North Reading's sole defeat came at the hands of Andover, 3-1, with Andover's two losses to MVC Champion Central Catholic, that defeated Melrose 3-2. The only common opponent for the teams was Lexington, whom Melrose defeated twice 3-0 and the Hornets also beat 3-0.

North Shore volleyball fans will get to see the top two teams in D2 North meet in a match that many had preordained before the first serve was in the air this season. Melrose has the strongest offense they've developed since the 2005 season when Paula Sen's 311 kills eclipsed sister Karen's single-season record 268. Since then, Hannah Brickley has bypassed both to set the school record for career kills, while on the outside Laura Irwin closes in on 200 this season. The other legendary Melrose hitting pair featured Marianne Foley and Erin Hudd in 2003, who terrorized Middlesex League opponents and led Melrose to its first D2 North title.

Melrose Spins English with Authority, 3-0

The Melrose Lady Raiders return to the D2 North title game for the seventh consecutive season, traveling to undefeated Boston English for a 25-3, 25-11, 25-20 victory. The Melrose domination afforded another evening of playoff experience for Melrose's two freshmen and three sophomores as Coach Scott Celli substituted liberally after his veteran senior team put the hammer down in the early action.

Melrose faces off against long-time rival North Reading Saturday at 4 p.m. at Andover's Dunn Gymnasium for the right to advance to the Final Four.Saturday is where the rubber meets the road on the road to the Final Four.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

"Worst" House

Keywords: Massachusetts postseason girls volleyball

Among the biggest reasons players play and fans watch sports is competition. The biggest problem (not a new phenomenon) with many of the regular season games is the lack of competition, as, at least in high school volleyball, eighty percent of the time or more, the outcome is known before the game. There may not be another sport as sharply divided between the 'haves' and the 'have-nots'. The successful teams usually have infrastructure (especially offseason participation), superior coaching, and a winning tradition.

Sitting before a basketball game several years ago, we overheard the opposing players talking about doing well "if we only lost by thirty points." What you can control going into a match are preparation, effort, and attitude. As for defeatism, "that dog don't hunt."

As we move along in the tournament, many attractive games appear on the tournament brackets. In Division I North, an Andover/Central Catholic matchup would create plenty of excitement, although North Andover and Methuen will work to keep that from happening. Andover and Central are the Hatfields and McCoys of the Merrimack Valley and always bring enthusiastic supporters. For Methuen facing Central, super-athletic Rashidat Agboola has over four kills per game and a basketball scholarship to BU. Central counters with uber-setter crafty Carolyn Eddy.

In the South D1 Semifinals, powerhouse Barnstable runs up against undefeated New Bedford, for the right to face the Marshfield/Brockton winner. You can never count the champion out, and Barnstable could be peaking at the right time. Junior Maura Manley of New Bedford has over 300 kills and over five kills per game. For Barnstable, Maribeth Martin has over 500 assists this season.

In D2 Central, two good games appear, with defending champion Medfield hosting Westboro and Hopkinton hosting Medway. The Medfield-Westboro match winner will be favored to capture a Final Four slot.

The D2 South brackets have shown that strength of schedule matters, with Bishop Feehan's rigorous nonleague schedule potentially the tempering needed to propel them into a final with favored perennial power Bourne, if they get by the Fontbonne Ducks.

What we can say is that the next ten days will give us the best opportunity to see the best local high school volleyball. Which is why we watch.

Lady Raider Notes: Congratulations to setter Colleen Hanscom signing a letter of intent to play basketball for Post. Melrose travels to Jamaica Plain tomorrow night for their 7 p.m. match with undefeated Boston English. Travel time and parking are unknowns for local fans.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Melrose Advances Over Crusaders, 3-0

The Melrose Lady Raiders have won their first round playoff game for the last eight seasons, and kept the streak alive hosting Lowell Catholic 25-4, 25-11, 25-8. Melrose advances to face top-seeded Boston English in Jamaica Plain Thursday.

The postseason brings a certain pageantry and excitement not always seen during the regular season. Melrose transformed that into a high level of energy in game one, with a 13-1 lead, fourteen kills and seven aces. Setter Colleen Hanscom fired up the offense and the twin Princesses of Whales, Hannah Brickley and Laura Irwin, blasted home six and four kills. Siena Mamayek added a pair of successful attacks as well.

Coach Scott Celli saw his troops go off to an 11-0 lead, and the substitution was on, as everyone got into the action. Hannah added another four kills and Laura three more. The team led coasted to an easy 17-3 lead before some inconsistency amidst lineup shuffling and four service errors brought LC back from 22-4 to 22-10. A Mamayek kill erased the momentum and the Lady Raiders closed out the game.

Game three was the Futures Game, with Melrose starting a pair of frosh, Brooke Bell (setter) and Amanda Commito (defensive specialist), two sophomores, Jill Slabacheski and Alyssa DiRaffaele, and a junior Athena Ziavras. And the Kiddie Korps didn't disappoint, going out 7-1, and 12-3, behind some strong play especially with three aces from Jill and three kills from Alyssa. The beatdown went on with strong setting from Brooke, and solid positional defense. Sophomore Brittany Adelman got her first playoff kill, and Annmarie Wiesen was strong around the net.

The defense really did get challenged much tonight, and the digging duo of Jess Farr and Alex Harlow will likely get more of a workout Thursday.

Lady Raider Notes: a politely enthusiastic crowd greeted the athletes tonight, and fans and players honored current and former veterans before the game. Congratulations to Winchester for their good showing as an expansion team in the Middlesex League.

A victory Thursday would send Melrose into the Division II North finals for the seventh consecutive season. This group of seniors has the opportunity to be the first Melrose volleyball team to win a state title, and will have some stiff competition as they climb that hill.

Always verify the game time before travel.

Here are directions from

Monday, November 09, 2009

Playoff Preview: Lowell Catholic Tomorrow

Melrose (19-1) hosts Lowell Catholic Tuesday night in the Division 2 North quarterfinals. The quarterfinals allows the full squad the chance to get exposed to playoff pressure and build momentum before heading into subsequent rounds.

Here is a link to the Lowell Catholic official volleyball site.

Melrose comes in with this group of seniors looking to advance to their fourth Division 2 North sectional finals, with the opportunity to win their first D2N title. Melrose returned four Middlesex League all-stars this season, Hannah Brickley, Jess Farr, Colleen Hanscom, and Laura Irwin.

Melrose relied on diversified offense, athletic blockers, and vastly improved back row compete against some of the consistent powers in Massachusetts volleyball, Barnstable, Central Catholic, Canton, and Bishop Feehan.

Come out to the Middle School Gymnasium to support your team Tuesday, November 10th at 7:00 P.M.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Bracketology (Updated)

Click charts to enlarge.Winchester deserves some credit for what they've accomplished in their first year of organized volleyball. They brought in college coaches from Tufts and Williams to get some additional experience, made the tournament, won their first game, and certainly have a chance against Boston English. The city schools generally don't have the infrastructure and facilities (at least yet) to be at the top of the heap, but one does sense that they're improving.

Despite facing the one seed, Bedford could easily advance to the sectional semi, and gave Melrose something of a headache when they met in 2007 in an early round game.
Bourne and Bishop Feehan look like the favorites in the South, with Bourne appearing in the state championship final in 2006 and 2007. Feehan's record is deceptive, with five losses, but all coming at the hands of Medfield, Westborough, and Melrose.
And in the "black and blue" division, the uber-tough Central, some terrific quarterfinal action coming up with experienced teams and strong coaching.

Friday, November 06, 2009


Melrose hosts Lowell Catholic next week, as LC topped O'Bryant 3-1.

This week the Lady Raiders did some team building activities, including a bowling outing.

And they capped off the week's activity outpointing (unofficially) top-ranked Central Catholic in a high octane scrimmage at the Middle School Gym. Central came in undefeated with super setter Carolyn Eddy, the best player I've seen this season. They also have BC bound Katie Z and Kendall Desrosiers, a pair of 6' 2" bombers who can hit over and down.

All that notwithstanding, Melrose hit around and through the Central blockers for decisive margins in the first two games (unofficially). Colleen Hanscom was particularly effective as setter and additional defender, and the frontcourt passing among Hannah Brickley, Laura Irwin, and Jill Slabacheski in particular was outstanding. Siena Mamayek brought her usual defensive excellence at the net, and the underappreciated back row did their thing almost flawlessly.

Everyone did their job and quality meant the job was won.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Massachusetts Volleyball Post-Season Preview: Central Division

The postseason heats up with local attention faced on the Lady Raiders, but the Massachusetts volleyball epicenter begins in the Central regional. All discussions begin with Medfield, winner of three of the past four Division 2 state titles. Melrose knows Medfield well, having lost in the 2005 finals 3-2 to the Warriors. In addition to facing a tough league schedule, Medfield hosted and won the "Open Date" Tournament and beat Barnstable in the lions' den.

Defender Allyson Le-Bruno leads the Warrior defense while Georgia Naumann and Morganne Gagne lead the Medfield offense with 171 and 133 kills. Naumann sports an impressive 44 percent kill percentage.
But in the rankings, along with Medfield are central D2 teams Westboro, Marlboro, Hopkinton, and Medway. Melrose fell 3-2 in 2003 to ultimate state champion Marlboro. Canton, with their impressive 17-2 record, including a loss to Melrose, checks in with a second seed in the sectional.

Westboro, like Melrose, sports a trio of 100 plus kill hitters, led by Kasey Kraus with 162.

Medfield is not afraid to hit 'down the line' from the strong side of the court.

All the teams come into the tournament with the same record, 0-0. Peaking at the right time, health, and stepping up at the big moment determine who will wear the crown in the Central, and have the right to face the D2 North Champion.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Melrose Hosts Playoff Game Tuesday at 7

Click bracket to enlarge.

The MIAA released the volleyball post-season schedule today.

As most of you know, Melrose plays in the Division 2 North region.Seedings follow winning percentage. Teams under .500 can qualify under the so-called "Sullivan Rule."
Melrose hosts the winner of the O'Bryant-Lowell Catholic first round game. I've heard players call the post-season "the best time of the year", when the top teams compete for the right to survive and advance.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Seedings (Presumptive)

According to the Boston Globe high school section, Boston English upset Latin Academy to remain undefeated and capture one of the top two seeds in Division 2 North.

The 1 and 2 seeds are likely to be Greater Lawrence and Boston English and the 3 and 4 seeds (coin flip) will be Melrose and North Reading. This is likely to set up the "preferred" Division 2 North matchup with Melrose and North Reading on the opposite sides of the bracket, potentially leading to an Andover finale between both teams coming in at 19-1.

The big game of the day is probably over (starting time 6 p.m.) with Medfield traveling to defending six-time state champion Barnstable on Senior Night. Should be a great game. No results have come in yet. (Late revision: Medfield 3, Barnstable 1)

Division II Record Leaders

The MIAA establishes seedings via records only, not based on any polling, strength of schedule, or complex formulae. Nothing wrong with that, it's just how they do it.

Here's the list of 'available' best records in Division 2. It isn't complete, but it gives you an idea of what's what. Some of these teams play elite schedules in strong leagues, and others not so much.

The Boston Herald did not include their weekly Coaches Poll yesterday.

Here is the link to the MIAA site with post-season tournament rules and schedules.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Melrose-Canton Wrap

Melrose defeated host Canton 3-0... 25-11, 25-19, and 25-20.

Set one saw a Melrose rout, with Melrose going out 10-1 and essentially coasting. Melrose was error free on service and had only seven kills, led by a pair apiece from Hannah Brickley and Athena Ziavras. Alex Harlow also had a pair of aces.

The second set saw a nip and tuck battle for much of the game. Canton took the early lead 4-1 and 7-3, but Melrose struck back to knot it at 7. Canton stretched the lead to 13-10, but a six point run highlighted by a pair of Ziavras kills gave Melrose the lead for good, although Canton closed to 18-17. Athena added five kills, Laura Irwin a pair, as Melrose had double digit kills.

The third game again saw a lot of fight from the Bulldogs, who led 7-3 and 12-8. Melrose rebounded to lead 14-12 on an ace from Athena and kills from setter Colleen Hanscom and Laura Irwin but the hosts tied at 14, 15, 16, and 17. A 7-1 Melrose run put the game out of reach, with Melrose winning 25-20. Laura and Hannah each struck for a pair of kills.

Notes. The MIAA website will likely post the schedule for Tournament Play Wednesday afternoon. A large contingent of Melrose fans turned out in Canton, with an estimated 3-1 margin according to one observer.

Melrose Goes on Road, Cooking Canton-ese in Style 3-0

Melrose closed out the regular season with another quality win, defeating the Canton Bulldogs 3-0. Full details to follow, but Melrose won 25-11, 25-19, and 25-20.

Canton came in ranked tenth in Massachusetts according to, including quality wins over Brockton and North Attleboro. The Bulldogs were also the Hockomock League champion.

Melrose faced a quality non-league schedule, finishing 5-1, with the only loss a 5 set tussle at number one ranked Central Catholic.
  • The Lady Raiders beat both opponents from the Catholic Central - Large division (AC and Bishop Fenwick)
  • Melrose beat three top twenty teams, Barnstable, Bishop Feehan, and Canton, all in straight sets.
  • The Central Massachusetts powers Medfield and Westborough both face Barnstable. The Medfield Warriors travel to Barnstable tomorrow to finish their regular season and Westborough lost to Melrose common opponents Central and Barnstable by identical 3-1 scores.
Melrose heads to the post-season with momentum and balance. Melrose is one of the few teams with a pair of hitters (Hannah Brickley and Laura Irwin) with over 150 kills apiece, three over 100 (add Athena Ziavras) and six over 50 (add Siena Mamayek, Jill Slabacheski, and setter Colleen Hanscom). But the key to success down the stretch has been the evolution of the back row, with All-League libero (2008) Jess Farr, the indomitable Hannah, and underrated Alex Harlow and Alyssa DiRaffaele. Game on.

Sunday, November 01, 2009