Lady Raider’s debut shows this 2014 team very tough to beat


MELROSE—It may be early to polish the trophy, but if you’re a high school volleyball fan in Melrose you be well advised to clear your November schedule. The 2014 Lady Raiders have returned polished and as powerful as ever after after convincing wins over Ursuline Academy and Winchester this week.

While being 2-0 early in the season is not unusual for Scott Celli’s Lady Raiders, Melrose has thus far proven a stronger team than last year, when the 21-3 Lady Raiders advanced to their 11th straight Div. 2 North title game but fell to Bishop Fenwick. This season Melrose has revealed an abundance of front row attackers, a rejuvenated back row line, and crisper serving, all of which suggests that this may be another banner season for the Lady Raiders.

Melrose senior captain Meri Lessing has led the charge for Melrose with dynamic offense, including 8 kills a piece in the two wins; right behind her sophomore powerhouse Victoria Crovo. Southpaw Allie Nolan has tallied nearly 40 assists in two games and lights-out serving which seems to confuse defense. New Melrose starter Hannah Mulcahey has made a name for herself on offense with powerful kills and front row blocking, while Marisa Cataldo shows poise beyond her years on outside attack. Add 6’0 Cat Torpey and you have a Melrose front row as threatening any one they’ve ever sported. Additionally, new libero Amanda Cain has been a seamless transition for the Raiders in the back row defense. This has Melrose coach Scott Celli, as one would imagine, pumped.

“So far this season we’re showing few weaknesses,” Celli admitted. “I think our success can be attributed to our overall depth.”

On Monday, Melrose hosted upstart Winchester, who had some decent amount of success last year. The Sachems displayed capable defense but fell 3-0 to Melrose in sets of 25-14, 25-21, and 25-16. The Lady Raiders have not lost a set in their early season in part due to their opening night win over Ursuline Academy on September 2 by scores of 25-18, 25-7, and 25-17.

One of the largest tests of the season comes this Thursday (post deadline) when Melrose hosted Div. 1 powerhouse Newton North, a team they routinely face in non-league play but have never beaten. Because Newton North is a Division 1 team, they will never run into each other in tournament play.  It’s teams like the Tigers that Melrose keeps on their schedule to prepare for the increasingly tough competition that comes at playoff time.

Said Celli of this intense rivalry. “This is always a big contest but it really doesn’t matter who we play, we play to win every time and are not intimidated.”

Melrose will resume Middlesex League play on Tuesday, Sept 16 when they hit the road to Arlington for a 5:30 game, followed by a trip to Wilmington on Wednesday at 4:00 p.m.