Thursday, September 29, 2011

Latest Rankings

According to the Boston Globe, Lynnfield lost to St. Mary's today. The scores are sometimes wrong, and probably in this case.

Melrose is getting some valuable practice time this week.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

West Coast Swing to Watertown Brings 3-0 Win

Melrose traveled to Watertown and emerged with a three-set 25-9, 25-2, 25-12 sweep. The victory brings Melrose to 8-0, 6-0 in the Middlesex League.

Watertown got behind early in set one, trailing 4-0, 9-2, and 15-5 along the way. Melrose had a strong offensive effort from Jen Cain with four kills and a pair from Rachel Johnson along the way.

The second stanza saw more of the same, with Watertown getting the opening point, only to see a 15 point service run for Brittany Adelman including four aces. Melrose ran the table from 16-2 to take the second set. Coach Scott Celli substituted liberally through the match and the second set saw Sydney Doherty with three kills and one apiece for Rachel and Sarah McGowan.

Melrose took the final set with Maeve Moriarty leading off with service and setting. Melrose led 5-0, 12-5, and 16-7 en route to the sweep. Sydney piled up four more kills, Brittany had a pair, and Alyssa DiRaffaele, Cassidy Barbaro, and Rachel each added one.

Game Analysis: Melrose fine tunes its game with plenty of playing time for hard-working reserves as it prepares for battles with traditional rivals AC (Saturday) and Central Catholic next week.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Melrose-Stoneham Volleyball Photoessay*

Don Norris with a little different photographic technique. Caption-free for your pleasure. Always click the chart if you think the edges might be cut off

*A volleyball blog created for fans of Melrose volleyball. Not an official site of Melrose High School or any other organization.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Maxpreps Rank Updates updated its volleyball rankings. Teams move up by winning but especially by playing a stronger schedule. Melrose has some attractive non-league games coming up on the schedule (underlined in red on the rankings). The Lady Raiders will host Westborough and travel to Central and to Lincoln-Sudbury in key road contests.

Barnstable defeated Medfield in straight sets this week to move up.

For what it's worth, Melrose defeated Lynnfield handily in a preseason scrimmage. Conversely, last year's state finalist Fairhaven may be underrated with powerful hitters Kara Charette and Kay Mullen.

Here is the remaining Melrose schedule. The next home game features the Arlington Catholic Cougars in another Catfight Saturday.


Dandy Don Norris sends over some new photos. From his camera to your eyes. Provide your own captions...after clicking to be sure you've seen the full photo.

Saturday, September 24, 2011


Another Norris contribution.

Plenty in Reserve

Don Norris sends over a close-up. Melrose reserves have had some key roles in the past, including in some big games.

And no, it's not Clarice Starling...

Quick Pics

Don Norris sends along volleyball photos. Always click to get the big picture.

Against the Gods: Melrose 3 Stoneham 0

Melrose extended its unbeaten streak to seven with a straight set victory over visiting Stoneham at the steamy Middle School Gymnasium. The conditions were so humid that the MMTV camera literally became inoperative with lens fogging.

The challenge for some teams and athletes becomes to defeat complacency and psychology during competition. Human nature challenges us to rise to the occasion against the best teams and avoid bringing something less during the 'average' game. The best teams "learn" on the fly with progressively higher intensity and achievement.

Melrose came out with tremendous energy and intensity in the first set, and played some of its best volleyball of the season against a good team. This showed up both on the floor and contributions from the bench on calling "out" balls.

Melrose opened up 8-0 and 21-4 leads with defensive ferocity, led by Player of the Week Amanda Commito and NKOTB Rachel Johnson, the latter with three block-kills in the first seven points. The Lady Raiders simply overwhelmed the Spartans, forcing Stoneham into error after error. Sarah McGowan and Rachel each delivered three kills and the team had a solitary service error.

Sarah McGowan delivers while Jen Cain (10), Jill MacInnes (16), and Brooke Bell (11) stand ready.

Set two saw more of a set-to, with Stoneham rallying from 0-4 to take a 5-4 lead. From a 7-6 deficit, Melrose ran off a nine point run to go up 15-7. The visitors brought it back to within two at 18-16, but Melrose closed it out (25-19) with a 7-3 run, sparked by a trio of kills by Sarah, and nifty setting by Brooke Bell. Melrose had double digit kills for the set, but three service errors. Chief attackers included Jen Cain and Sarah with three kills and a pair from Brooke.

Melrose's attack simply wore down Stoneham in the third. Melrose went out 4-0, and after a counterattack, the Lady Raiders extended the lead to 9-4 and 14-8, before a Spartan rally brought it to 14-11. A Cain service run began a closing kick with Melrose winning eleven of the final thirteen points for a 25-13 margin.

Melrose had thirteen kills in the finale, including five for Kayla Wyland, three for Sarah, and a pair for Rachel and Jen.

Game Analysis: Most teams in most sports can elevate their game periodically, but few can sustain the action over the course of a contest. For example, in a  basketball game against Burlington in 2005, Melrose wanted to demonstrate their superiority, and while Shey Peddy scored her 1000th point, the Lady Raiders went out to a 44-12 lead in the first twelve minutes. After that, the coaching staff literally had to call off the dogs.

Yesterday, the volleyball team played truly inspired ball in the first set. Overall, they played a superior match. Maintaining that level of intensity throughout a contest becomes a great challenge, but great teams need to be able to perform at a high level over longer periods to be recognized for excellence. The 2011 team has the capacity to achieve at a high level and will look to continue the pressure over longer stretches against quality opponents.

The Badgers never quit...

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Maxpreps Initial Rankings Are Out

Although something of a "black box", the rankings incorporate record and strength of schedule. How it works is anyone's guess. Anyhow, here are the initial Massachusetts volleyball rankings, out today. Whatever we might think, at least they have a consistent method.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Sixes Wild, Melrose 3 Wilmington 0

Melrose traveled to Wilmington and left with a 25-14, 25-15, 25-13 victory. The win brings Melrose to 6-0 and 4-0 in the Middlesex League.

With no games since last Friday, Melrose showed some rust, including twelve service errors for the match.

The first set saw Melrose break ahead 2-0 and never look back. That being said, they didn't generate their first kill until their sixth point. Melrose held comfortable leads at 12-5 and 19-8 along the way. Unofficially, Sarah McGowan had five kills, Rachel Johnson 2, and Kayla Wyland and Jill Slabacheski one apiece.

The second stanza showed erratic play, with the Lady Raiders up 6-1, only to give back five in a row for a knot at six. The game then went into a more offensive display with sixteen kills and several four point runs. Sarah blasted another six kills, and in an important development Rachel Johnson added a nickel's worth including 2 blocks into kills. Kayla and setter Brooke Bell each added a pair and Brooke ran up the assist totals.

Melrose dominated the final game with less offense however, as Wilmington couldn't overcome errors. Melrose went from a narrow lead at 5-4 to a 9-1 run to forge an insurmountable 14-5 lead. Sarah led with another pair of kills.

Game analysis: Melrose has a reputation for playing its best volleyball in the big games. Wilmington came in with only one win this season, over last place Watertown. The Lady Raiders left with a sloppy win and return to host Stoneham Friday at the friendly confines of the Middle School Gym.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Melrose-Burlington Photoessay

Don Norris shares his photographic eye with us. More pictures and fewer captions.

"Dig safe."
The "Dynamic Duo."
Successful teams always bring along young, talented J-Mac
It all begins with defense.

Under-rated Jen Cain, the current version of Melrose's Swiss Army Knife.

Girl's got ups.
Club can't handle me no how?

More evidence that Cain is able.
Triple block not enough to stop Rachel.

"The Architect".