... predominently seniors, outlook is bright
By the time this photo is published (the October issue of the Mirror), the Raiders' all-womens' volleyball team racked up it's first five competitions -- frankly by overpowering any defense the opponents could put up. Totally undefeated, that is.
Going into the sixth contest, the Raiders spent a week on the road, three sets in five days, all in contention for titles: On a Monday evening the ladies traveled to Peabody to play Bishop Fenwick -- always a tough, polished team. From there, on Wednesday, they bussed over to Arlington to meet with women from Arlington Catholic -- always a team in contention. And finally, the squad moved into neighboring Stoneham -- not the threat the others presented, but
always ready to take a potshot at rivals from Melrose.
All three games were hotly contested, and while Fenwick and AC are non-league games, they provide the test of the Lady Raiders' metal -- are they really as good as the early record shows?
Melrose opened the week in Peabody against Bishop Fenwick, which literally came out swinging. The first ten-or-so points indicated a really close match, but Melrose took the edge and never looked back. Three straight wins left Fenwick licking their wounds, wondering where that tornado came from.
At mid-week the Raiders went to Arlington Catholic, whose gymnasium is compact to say the least -- the three rows of bleacher seats almost encroach on the court. AC took the opening few points before Melrose had a chance to get their machine in gear. But while the end scores were close -- 25-22, 25-22, and 25-19 -- the Raiders dominated play, displaying an outstanding defense.
The program at Stoneham Friday night was unspectacular -- compared to the two matches earlier in the week. Business-like, the Lady Raiders over-powered the Spartans, again in three straight games.
In earlier play, the Raiders downed Wilmington, North Andover (non-league), Belmont, Reading and newcomer-Woburn.
In spite of the Lady Raiders' continued success, the sport of volleyball is a recent one in New England -- and the bleachers are only half full at gametime. It is, nevertheless, a good sport for spectating -- no bodily contact between opponents -- where the emphasis is teamwork, athletic coordination, combined with practiced agility. It is fun to watch -- epecially if your team is a consistent winner. There is no fee to watch a game, just show up and grab a seat, then enjoy the show.
Home games are in the big new gym at the Melrose Veterans Memorial Middle School -- a beautiful facility. Although schedules vary, the team generally plays into November on Monday, Wednesday and Friday evenings: JV's at 4:00, Varsity at 5-ish.
That is outside hitter Jen Cain scoring against the Wilmington defense.
Coach Scott Celli (a teacher at MHS) provides direction during an early game.
The team opened the season with a starting line-up of five seniors and one junior -- all of whom were members of last season's divisional champions. At the net is 5' 10" Rachael Johnson, versatile both as a key blocker and a center hitter. In white, playing the defensive "libero" position, is Junior Jill MacInnis, while at the right is Jen Cain.
October 5, 2012