Published March 10, 2021
By STEPHEN MARTELLUCCI
LYNNFIELD — Last season was a memorable one for the Lynnfield High volleyball team. The Pioneers, who won the Cape Ann League title in 2019, reached the Division 2 North finals before losing to Danvers as they ended the year at 23-1.
Five seniors from that squad graduated but third-year head coach Brent Ashley did welcome back five returners when training camp opened on Feb. 22.
The season was moved back from its normal fall season to the Fall 2 season that the MIAA (Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association) implemented last summer.
This season will end on April 25 with no MIAA postseason tournaments.
Lynnfield will play 10 regular-season games as the Cape Ann League will be split into the Kinney (Large) and Baker (Small) divisions. The Pioneers will play the three Kinney teams twice and then play the four Baker Division teams once.
All eight teams will make the league playoffs as the fourth seed will face the top seed in each division while the second and third-place teams will play against each other.
The two winners per division, will then play in the league championship games.
The five players back for the Pioneers are Ava Buonfiglio (middle blocker), Daniella Colarusso (libero), Jill Babine (outside hitter), Vanessa Torosian (right-side hitter) and Ella Gizmunt (outside hitter).
With the exception of Gizmunt, who is a sophomore, the other four players are seniors. Buonfiglio, who just finished up playing for the Pioneer basketball team, and Colarusso are the two captains.
“A lot of them played club volleyball the past few months but, with the exception of Buonfiglio and Gizmunt, the girls were not in good shape,” said Ashley. “They said that they wanted to be pushed hard in practice and they have worked hard to get into shape.”
Another issue is that, in a normal season, the team would have several scrimmages. However, they could not scrimmage this year.
“I didn’t know what to expect heading into the Newburyport match,” admitted Ashley, about the season opener on Monday. “I was very pleased what happened.”
The Pioneers ended up beating the host Clippers 3-0 on Monday evening in the opener. They won the first game 25-22 and the second one 25-5. They then completed the sweep winning the third game 25-15.
“We looked nervous in the first set but were able to take control in the second one,” said Ashley.
Gizmunt, the only returning CAL All-Star from last year, had a big season debut with 12 kills, 10 digs and 11 service aces. Colarusso also had a strong performance with 16 digs and eight aces.
Lynnfield will stay on the road the next two matches. On March 10, they visit Triton. Then, on March 15, they go to North Reading.
Both of those matches will start at 5:30 p.m.
“Our goal is to win the league again,” stated Ashley.
With the COVID-19 protocols, the players must wear masks at all times. The bench must be spread out for social distancing purposes and no fans are allowed for now.
“It is weird not to have fans,” admitted Ashley. “I feel bad for the parents and hope that maybe they can be allowed to come later in the season.”