... best shots from some 22 wins, one loss.
After last years State Championship trophy, the Melrose women's volleyball squad was supposed to have a building year in 2013. Not exactly so, for the lady Raiders did it again -- at least, this re-built club featuring some ten underclassmen and only five seniors -- went on to win the Middlesex League with a 22-1 record. The only blemish was a non-league game against state contender Bishop Fenwick, early in this season.
In this action photo, four of the five seniors are shown during an early contest. They are Captains Jill MacInnis at the left, Defenseman Cassidy Barbaro, strong-side hitter Annalisa DeBari (number 7), and defenseman Maave Moriarty. The fifth senior is Alyssa Abbott, on defense.
The power of the team is spread pretty evenly with a strong bench. The roster includes Juniors Amanda Cain, Meri Lessing, Stephanie Crovo, Ashley Harding and setter Allie Nolan. Sophomores include Marissa Cataldo and Hannah Mulcahey. The two freshmen on the squad, who responded quickly to Coach Scott Celli's instructions, are both close to six feet tall: Victoria
Crovo and Cat Torpey.
That's the setter, Allie Nolan on the left, and center-hitter Meri Lessing, who prove not only a strong defense, but add much to the scoring success for the Raiders.
Mix and match: That's senior Allyssa Abbott (17) and freshman Cat Torpey, adding to the long winning skein.
Another view of the Raider strong bench: from the right, Victoria Crovo, Cat Torpey, Amanda Cain,,Hannah Mulcahey, Ashley Harding, Alyssa Abbott, Cassidy Barbaro and Stephie Crovo.
The power hitters for the Raiders these four -- plus three more waiting their turn: From the left are Cat Torpey, Annalisa DeBari, Meri Lessing and Victoria Crovo. Three others are Ashley Harding, Marissa Cataldo, Hannah Mulcahey and Stephanie Crovo.
Time out: Coach Scott Celli -- a candidate for Coach of the Year (again) --provides pointers for his winning team.
Annalisa DeBari makes a textbook save, turning a violent spike into a nice, arcing pass to the setter. Number 19 is Jill MacInnis, candidate for best in the state.
Jill makes a sliding save, popping the ball straight up for setter Allie Nolan.
That's hitter Meri Lessing, putting up the near-perfect block. The game was against league-newcomer, Woburn.
Hitters become blockers: That is Annalisa DeBari and Victoria Crovo.
A Melrose player avoids the double-block but gives the Stoneham Libero an easy pick.
The Stoneham club is on its way up, as are most of the Middlesex League schools. Wakefield and Woburn joined the league this year with new teams == Woburn did very well for a new club; Wakefield doesn't have the right stuff - yet. Winchester, Lexington and Reading are competitive. Belmont and Arlington (new?) have a long way to go before they can beat the top teams in the Middlesex League.
Regardless who wins, Volleyball is the on the rise.
Next up: The Division Two championship play, then very possibly a return to the State Finals.
All photos from Don Norris
November 1, 2013