SENIOR CAPTAIN Emma Mancini (11) finished with 17 kills, nine digs and three aces during the Pioneers' 3-0 victory over Austin Prep during the Division 3 North quarterfinals on Monday.                                   (Dan Tomasello Photo)

SENIOR CAPTAIN Emma Mancini (11) finished with 17 kills, nine digs and three aces during the Pioneers’ 3-0 victory over Austin Prep during the Division 3 North quarterfinals on Monday. (Dan Tomasello Photo)


LYNNFIELD — The volleyball team began its quest to capture a fifth straight Division 3 North sectional title with a straight set victory over Austin Prep in the Division 3 North quarterfinals on Monday.

“We have been off a week and there is always a little rust that comes off when you have a week with no competition,” said Pioneers head coach Michelle Perrone. “We worked through that during the first set and really came alive during the second and third sets.”

The third seed Pioneers were sluggish in the beginning of the first set, as the 11th seed Cougars jumped out to an early 5-4 lead. Lynnfield regrouped and was able to take a 12-9 lead halfway through the first set. The Pioneers concluded the first set by going on a 13-10 run to pull out a 25-19 first set victory.

“We worked through a lot this season,” said Perrone. “When we are on, we are on. And when we get under ourselves, we have to play catch-up.”

Austin Prep took an early 3-0 lead in the beginning of the second set. Lynnfield began chipping away at the Cougars’ lead and took an early 5-3 lead.

The Pioneers started pulling away from the Cougars and closed out the second set by going on a 20-6 run to secure a 25-9 victory.

Similar to the first two sets, Austin Prep took an early lead in the beginning of the third set. Lynnfield rallied and had a 14-4 lead halfway through the set.

The Pioneers kept rolling and took a 17-10 third set lead. Lynnfield concluded the contest by going on a 7-4 run to secure the 25-14 victory, and punch their tickets to the Division 3 North semifinals.

“We did a really nice job in the second and third sets,” said Perrone. “We hope to carry that momentum throughout the rest of the tournament.”

Senior captain Emma Mancini led the Pioneers with 17 kills, nine digs and three aces. Perrone commended Mancini’s performance against the Cougars.

“Emma is an All-State player and an All-League player,” said Perrone.
“She is the heart and soul of our team both offensively and defensively. She doesn’t get recognized for her defense as much because people are really impressed with her offense.”

Sophomore Sarah Mezini played very well for the Pioneers, finishing with 11 assists. Junior Shannon Ryan had eight assists.

“Sarah Mezini had a nice serving game and did a nice job,” said Perrone. “Our setter Shannon Ryan did a great job getting the ball to Emma. She is steady. She is one of our top servers and is a reliable player. She knows her role and gets the job done.”

Additionally, junior MaryKate Deighan finished with six kills, five aces and two blocks. Sophomore Katie Nugent also played well for the Pioneers.

Perrone praised her squad’s performance against the Cougars, particularly the Pioneers’ underclassmen.

“Being young and inexperienced is something that we need to improve on,” said Perrone. “I think our sophomores are starting to come out of their shell a little bit. We had three sophomores on the court at the same time, and I think they were a little intimidated at first. Their vocalization has come a long way, which is something we have been practicing on during practice and in games.”

The Pioneers will travel to Mystic Valley for a Division 3 North semifinals rematch on Wednesday, Nov. 5, beginning at 6 p.m. Lynnfield defeated the Eagles 3-1 in last years tournament.

“They didn’t graduate anybody from last year’s team and they have a very strong outside hitter and setter,” said Perrone. “We are going to have to prepare our offense and defense for them. This team definitely has the potential to do great things and I am looking forward to seeing how it all plays out.”

Loss to Arlington Catholic

The Pioneers concluded the regular season by falling 3-0 to Arlington Catholic on Monday, Oct. 27.

Arlington Catholic dominated the first set from start to finish, prevailing 25-8. Lynnfield bounced back during the second set, but the Cougars hung on for the 25-20 victory. Arlington Catholic cruised past the Pioneers 25-17 during the third set.