Clear the court! It's volleyball season again!

... remnants of last year's state champs plan for something better

from Don Norris and Dick Collis

The 'new look' for the 2013 season (not in order): Allie Nolan, 5-5, a junior; Alyssa Abbott, 5-5, a senior; Amanda Cain, 5-4, junior; Annalisa DeBari, 5-6, senior; Ashley Harding, 5-7, junior; Cassidy Barbaro, 5-4, senior; Cat Torpey, 5-11, freshman; Hannah Mulcahy, 5-10, sophomore; Jill MacInnes, 5-6, senior; Maeve Moriarty, 5-2, senior; Marissa Cataldo, 5-7, sophomore; Meri Lessing, 5-7, junior; Stephanie Crovo, 5-8, junior; Victoria Crovo. 5-9, freshman.

With only five veterans left from last season's state championship team, Coach Scott Celli dug deep into his bag of magic tricks, looked around for tall people, then decided to draw heavily from nothing more than the MHS class of 2016 for both talent and tall people.

Two very tall volleyball players, both freshmen and novices in comparison -- were added to the varsity team. Even more startling is the fact that the Jayvees list nine of their 14 players from the freshman class. And yet -- thanks to the expanded volleyball program over the past several years which promotes the sport as early as youngsters ages seven, eight and nine -- the freshman team looks to have some good potential.

In short, in spite of losing so many veteran players to graduation, the future for volleyball in Melrose looks bright. It will take lots of concentration, endless practices, drills that last for hours, but Coaches Celli, Steve Wall (JVs) and Andrea Basteri (frosh) have experience and determination working for them.

The teams all had short shrift on pre-season preparation due to state law that prohibits organized activity before two weeks prior to school opening -- The varsity and JVs got into action with a scrimmage at Canton on Thursday, Aug 29, then again on Saturday, the 31st, travelled to Medway for multi-team tourney of abbreviated games. The season officially opened as the Lady Raiders hosted the rival Arlington Catholic, which traditionally has a strong team. (That game happened Thursday evening, just as the Mirror was being put to bed).

Early pre-season action ...

In the annual pre-season ten-team tourney at Medway, Melrose "did fairly well", said Dick Collis, who keeps track of statistics for the local VB internet station (run by Dr.Ron Sen). Dick said that they played some six abbreviated games, and "fared well" at 3-3. Each of those six games was either won or lost by one point. Close.

Powerhouse around greater Boston, playing at Medway, will be Newton North, which is coached by former MIT/Harvard player Rich Barton. His club walked away with victories -- this was the team that gave the Raiders their only defeat last season.

The Junior Varsity: Miranda Lombardo, soph; Kira DeLucia, soph; Allie Bornstein, soph; Haley Mate, soph; Meagan Leyne, soph; Kaitlyn MacInnes, freshman; Caroline Nolan, freshman; Julia Symonds, freshman; Lenora Ivers, freshman; Bella Federico, freshman; Katie Donovan, freshman; Emily DiPietro, freshman; Erin Bright, freshman; and Chrysta Barbaro, freshman.

September schedule: Pre-season action continued with a scrimmage at Canton, and then a non-league game against Arlington Catholic (at Melrose, Saturday, September 7) with Jayvees playing first at 4:30, varsity to follow about 5:00. The league opener is September 9th at Winchester. Big change: In Middlesex League action, games will begin at 4:00, and the varsity will take to the court first.

The September schedule follows:
Sept 9 at Winchester, 4pm.
Sept 11, Belmont at Melrose, 4pm.
Sept 16, Bishop Fenwick at Melrose, 6:30p.m.
Sept 18, Arlington High at Melrose, 4pm.
Sept 20, at Stoneham, 4pm.
Sept 25, at Wilmington, 4pm.
Sept 27, at Burlington, 4pm.
Sept 30: at Central Catholic at Lawrence (non-league) 6:15pm.

On October 2, the new league entry from Wakefield will visit Melrose at 4pm.

The Freshman team: Keli Yianacopolus, Jenna Santos, Camryn Pfeiffer, Rachel Pfeiffer, Sophia Manfra-Levitt, Teagan Ingalls, Rachel Freed, Michaela Fanikos, Maria Drago, Nicole Davie, Olivia Costa, Michelle McCaleb, Alexa Breban, and Nicollette Adrian.

September 6, 2013

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