Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Early Shots

Photos courtesy of Don Norris. Click the image to see the full frame.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Game 22: Newton North 3 Melrose 2

Melrose hosted Newton North, which defeated Barnstable last week. The Lady Raiders started slow, responded to adversity, but came up a little short, losing in 5 sets to the Tigers.

Before the game, two junior varsity players received promotions, Amanda Cain and Merry Lessing.

Senior Night recognized the Melrose Seniors, which may be the first group to win at least 20 games in every season. Particularly touching was Amanda Cain's tribute to her older sister, Jen.

The Tigers brought a plethora of talent of their own, led by Keane Brazda, a Division I volleyball signee, and terrific hitters on both sides.

Melrose struggled off the bat, as their passing was inconsistent, resulting in too many free balls and not enough attacks. When they did, only Kayla Wyland was consistently putting the ball in play as she had two first set kills.

North led 5-1, 13-5, and 19-8 before Melrose established a counter-attack, closing to 23-16 before losing 25-18. Melrose had only four kills.

The second set gave Melrose another shower of adversity, as North went out to an 11-4 lead, before a Bell service run and North attack errors brought Melrose back. The game was tied at 11, 12, 14, 15, 16, and 17 as Wyland, Annalisa DeBari, and Sarah McGowan found the range with kills. The Tigers then opened up a 21-17 lead only to see Late kills from Rachel Johnson, Brooke Bell, and a pair from Sarah turn at 23-20 deficit into a 25-23 set win. Four McGowan kills were critical.

Melrose continued the momentum into set three, after ties at three through seven. A six point Jen Cain service run opened a 13-7 lead and the Tigers never got closer than four at 16-12 as Melrose won 25-19.

Melrose fired in fourteen kills, with five for Sarah and a pair apiece for Rachel, Annalisa, and Kayla.

Although Melrose took a quick lead in set four at 3-1, they couldn't sustain the advantage as North went up 7-4, 11-6, and 15-8. A Scott Celli timeout couldn't stem the tide, and Melrose never got closer than three as the Tigers took set four 25-18.

Four McGowan kills and a pair from DeBari highlighted the frame.

Set five saw Melrose take the first two points, with a DeBari block-kill followed by a McGowan kill. But North answered with leads of 5-3, 6-4, and 8-5 at the break. Melrose got within one at 8-7, and got a tough break at 12-10 when McGowan wiped a block and the ball was called out. Melrose followed with a pair of points to bring it to 13-12, only to have a monster Brazda kill open the lead, only to see Melrose hit into the net to give the Tigers (17-1) the victory at 15-12.

Game analysis: Through much of the match, Newton North's powerful offense limited Melrose's attack. The Lady Raiders did not bring as much passing or attack consistency as customary, and few players had their 'A' game. I felt Kayla Wyland had one of her best games as she continues her upward volleyball trajectory. Melrose showed that they can play with anyone, but needed to make a few more plays to take home the 'W'.

The End of the Innocence

Senior Night arrives, a recognition of the contribution of the Class of 2013. Seven seniors - Brooke Bell, Jen Cain, Amanda Commito, Sydney Doherty, Rachel Johnson, Sarah McGowan, and Kayla Wyland - step onto the court for their final regular season contest.

Melrose slides down in the computer poll, slippage as a result of punitive scheduling points.  The Lady Raiders have a chance to emend that against the Newton North Tigers, who defeated legendary Barnstable last week.

Senior Night activities begin around 5:45 and the match at 6:30. There is no JV game today.

Here are some excerpts from FIVB rules:

Monday, October 29, 2012

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Senior Night Tuesday

Great event announcement in the Melrose Patch including a great photograph of the volleyball senior class.

Warrior Mentality

From Coaching Toolbox.

Although this is written about basketball from Don Meyer, a remarkable figure and legendary teacher, it applies equally well to volleyball.


You have a desire to excel for the benefit of those relying on you.

You finish playing and only your body leaves the floor your heart and soul are captured within the game.

You would rather encourage a teammate to success than benefit personally from his mistakes.

You think you can, and you do.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Crowd Pleasers

Don Norris sends over some crowd scenes.

Game 21: Melrose 3 Watertown 0

Melrose completed an unblemished Middlesex League schedule with a 3-0 win at Watertown.

In doing so, Melrose sets a school record for regular season wins.

Cassidy Barbaro led the Lady Raiders with 8 kills.

Middlesex League standings.

Coming into the home stretch, Sarah McGowan leads the state in kills/set.

Brooke Bell ranks among the top setters in MA.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Melrose - Stoneham Photoessay..With A Little Help

Shots from Don Norris. Unedited. Click to enlarge photos.

"It is amazing what can be accomplished when nobody cares who gets the credit." - Anon


The Great Wall.

Kayla Wyland was outstanding...and her best days in volleyball are ahead of her.
...and Sarah added 17 kills...with help from her friends.

Recognition well-deserved.

Senior Night Tuesday. Showdown city


Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Game 20: Melrose 3 Stoneham 0

Melrose eclipsed the twenty win season again with a 25-15, 25-17, 25-11 win against Stoneham. Melrose travels to Watertown Friday and faces Newton North Tuesday. According to the Boston Globe scoreboard, Newton North defeated Barnstable 3-2 tonight.

Tonight the Lady Raiders opened strong with 6-1 and 9-2 leads over Stoneham (13-7) and never looked back against a much-improved Spartan team. Unofficially, Kayla Wyland led with four first set kills as the lanky lefty played one of her best games. Sarah McGowan added four of her own along with a pair apiece for Rachel "The Rock" Johnson and Jen Cain.

The second set held more of the same with Melrose never trailing after a tie at 2. Stoneham never got closer than 7-5, thanks to exceptional defense from the back row, led by Amanda Commito, Jill MacInnes, Allie Nolan, and Cassidy Barbaro. From 8-5, Melrose went on a 9-2 run, and although Stoneham closed to 20-15, a late surge closed out the Spartans.

Sarah McGowan had eight kills with one apiece for Rachel, Kayla, and Annalisa DeBari. .

The final set saw ties at 3, 4, and 5, followed by a 15-3 Melrose run as Stoneham got worn down and made a lot of mistakes. Once again, it was too much Sarah McGowan (three kills) and four from Kayla leading the charge, with a pair from Brooke Bell including a solo block/kill for her highlight package.

Game Analysis: Melrose had too much talent, too many hitting angles, and too much Sarah McGowan and Kayla Wyland. Stoneham improved, but lacked enough hitting to challenge seriously.

If , in fact, Newton North beat Barnstable, then Melrose has a chance to claim the top spot with a Senior Night win next week.

Latest kills statistics.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Melrose - Cambridge Snaps and More

Photos courtesy of Don Norris. Unedited.

The next generation of Melrose volleyball is close at hand.
 Defensive cover.
 Rachel 'rocks' one at the net.

Sarah McGowan attacks.
Brooke has something to smile about.
A school record for assists gets recognized.
 The JVs have had an exceptional season as well.
 Andrea Basteri coaches the freshmen.

Massachusetts kills leaders.

Massachusetts assists leaders.