Team continues to roll at 5-0; big test tonight vs. N. Dame

Published in the September 25, 2015 edition

MEAGAN LEYNE has emerged as a solid hitter for the 5-0 Melrose Lady Raider volleyball team. (Steve Karampalas photo)

MEAGAN LEYNE has emerged as a solid hitter for the 5-0 Melrose Lady Raider volleyball team. (Steve Karampalas photo)



MELROSE — Just five games into the season, the Melrose Lady Raider volleyball team is rolling right along, undefeated at 5-0 after back-to-back league wins against Wilmington and Burlington, as they now head into a tougher part of their schedule with a marquee matchup against defending Div. 2 state champion Notre Dame of Hingham who arrive in Melrose tonight, Friday, Sept. 25 for a 6 p.m. showdown at the Melrose Middle School gym.

The Lady Raiders first cruised past the Wilmington Wildcats on Friday, Sept. 18 on the road with a 3-0 victory in straight sets of 25-4, 25-14, and 25-17. Leading the charge in kills were junior captain Victoria Crovo with 14, senior captain Marissa Cataldo with 6, while setters Lily Fitzgerald and Emily DiPietro split duties and tallied 14 and 12 assists respectively.

On Monday night at the Melrose Middle School gym, Burlington entered the game with a respectable 3-1 record but had no answers for a powerful Melrose team firing on all cylinders who rolled to easy set wins of 25-14, 25-8 and 25-6. Burlington struggled to return service and only managed to produce half a dozen kills over the night, outmatched by a sharp Melrose back row and the collected efforts of Kaitlyn MacInnes and Katie Donovan in libero duties. Offensively it was a big day for Melrose hitters, including Hannah Mulcahey, who pounded nine and performed flawlessly on the service line with 22 service points. Teammate Victoria Crovo hit 7, Marissa Cataldo contributed with 9 and new hitter Meagan Leyne looked promising, delivering 3. Tallying assists were Lily Fitzgerald (12) and Emily DiPietro (10). DiPietro and Cataldo were also flawless at the service line.

For Melrose head coach Scott Celli, wins happen when the Lady Raiders execute exactly as requested. “When we serve well and play defense well, we are a tough team to beat. And we did that today. It was a good blend, a full team effort,” he said of the Burlington match.

While Melrose has plenty of offensive oomph, the key this season has been to sharpen back row defense. “I think the team is learning they don’t have to do someone else’s job out there.They have their own job to do, just as Belichick says, ‘do your job.’ And they’re buying into that. If do that we can be a very successful team, otherwise the season ends earlier than we expect.”

That will be the goal this Friday when state champ Notre Dame Academy of Hingham (5-0) rolls into town. The Cougars beat Melrose, 3-1, last season and bring to the floor some powerful hitters in Avery Spaziani, Corrine Cox and Katie Howley. One hole in the Cougars’ arsenal may be their relatively low serving percentage. Still, it will be a big test for Melrose defense.

“They’re probably the best team in the state,” says Celli. “We’ll see how good we are and what we need to improve on.”

Action takes place at 6 p.m. at the Melrose Veterans Middle School gym.