Warrior volleyball kicks off campaign with Watertown win

Published in the March 12, 2021 edition.


WATERTOWN — The Wakefield High volleyball team began their season with a convincing 3-0 road win over Watertown on Saturday. The Warriors and Raiders will have a rematch tomorrow, 12 p.m. at the Charbonneau Field House. 

“I was extremely proud of our team in this opening game against Watertown, especially after not playing in over a year,” said Kayla Wyland who got a win in her first match as Wakefield’s head coach. “They came out with a lot of energy and excitement. The first game back in any season can be very nerve racking, especially this year, but the team was able to come out strong and take the win. We played our game throughout the entire match and we stayed focused, confident and poised.”

Wakefield was lights out on serves, collecting 23 points on collections of aces and service points led by 14 from senior captain Clara Butler who also had 10 assists on the day as Wakefield’s setter. 

“Clara led our offense by setting everybody up for success,” said Wyland.

The Warriors were led by multiple strong hitting performances especially from juniors Maddy Seabury (7 kills), Kelsey Manchester (6 kills) and Mia Desruisseaux (5 kills). 

“Maddy was very consistent from the middle for us, She is a powerhouse,” said Wyland. “Mia and Kelsey made Watertown’s defense work really hard with their attacks from the outside. Claire Donahue, our libero, did a great job keeping the ball alive in tough situations throughout the game.”

Wakefield, playing in their first match in 497 days, won the first set 25-15 and the last two by identical scores of 25-12.

Watertown got the first two points of the match before Manchester got Wakefield on the board in 2021, spiking down a cross court pass from Butler. 

A Seabury block later tied and Butler’s first ace of the day gave the Warriors the lead for good. A Seabury kill from Butler made it 7-3 and forced a Raider timeout.

Wakefield continued to cruise after that as Desruisseaux got two of her five aces on the day and Manchester picked up another kill to make it 17-8. 

The play of the set came on an Amanda Nett diving dig. The ball ricocheted off the net and Butler kept it alive with Seabury playing it over. Nett later kept the rally alive with another one-handed save this time on the run and a foul by Watertown ended the point. 

A Desruisseaux bump, Butler set and Desruisseaux spike gave Wakefield their 24th point.

Butler took control of the second set leading Wakefield on an 8-0 run to start the frame as Butler scored four of those points with laser beams from the line. 

Butler’s backwards pass set up Christa Imbriano for a nice hit and kill to make it 10-1 as Wakefield cruised from there with more service points going to Desruisseaux and Nett. 

Senior captain Hailey Burke won a battle at the net to make it 17-5 and later hit a cut shot to make it 19-8. Butler finished strong with two more service points and senior captain Amelia Galvin followed suit with an ace to end it. 

Butler continued her dominant serving in the third with four aces and mixed in with Seabury and Manchester kills, the Warriors went on a 6-0 run to make it 7-1. 

Talia Thomson got on the board with a kill and Desruisseaux finished the game with a strong hit as the Warriors confidently concluded a great effort. 

Wakefield will play nine more matches during a shortened season that will include a Middlesex League postseason but no states. 

“It is disappointing that there are no states, however, we have a lot to prove of ourselves in the Middlesex League,” said Wyland. “Luckily, there will still be a Middlesex League tournament and Wakefield has a chance to do something big this season. As long as we continue to work hard, play together, and give each day 100 percent, I am confident that we will do some great things in the season and hopefully, the postseason.

“The team has developed multiple goals this season as a group, a top one being to make the playoffs and another to get a higher winning percentage than last season (over .500). We look at these goals (along with some others) each and every day before practice to remind ourselves what we are trying to accomplish. The program missed the playoffs by one game last season so I know that is something we will fight tooth and nail to get this time around.”

Wakefield had nine wins last year, just missing the typically required 10 to make sectionals. 

While the season might look different, the opportunities to improve and enjoy playing a sport as a group remain.

“Sports are always way bigger than wins and losses but even more so this year. I am so glad that student athletes are able to get some normalcy back into their lives by getting back on the court. Being on a team is being a part of something bigger than the individual self and it allows student athletes to form connections, grow relationships and have an escape from everything else going on around right now.”

The Warriors reside in an always competitive Freedom Division where they will twice meet the likes of consistently strong programs like Burlington…and yes, Melrose, where Wyland graduated from in 2013 just months after helping lead the Red Raider volleyball team to a state championship.

“Being from Melrose, I know from experience that they always have a strong team,” said Wyland. Scott Celli has done such a great job running and building the program each and every year in Melrose. I learned so much from him as a player and I am looking forward to playing them this season.”

Sixteen months is a long time to be away from a sport and a team. Wakefield’s returning players including captains Burke, Butler, Galvin and Lexi Chiros, will be happy to return. Though they won’t get the full season they deserve, they will get a chance to build up a foundation they have helped create over the years, something Wyland will greatly appreciate in her first season. 

“Morale is very high,” said Wyland. “My coaching style is all about high energy, perseverance, and selflessness, and this group of athletes were already on board with that. The team has really embraced our ‘All out, All game, All season’ philosophy. They are a group of hard working, respectful and determined athletes. I see so much potential in our team this season and I know they do, too. They are ready to embrace all of the challenges we may see this season together.”