13-0 Melrose to face tests against Winchester, Fenwick

Published in the October 13, 2017 edition

ANOTHER SOLID job by senior capt. setter Lily Fitzgerald, who helped lead Melrose to their 13th straight victory, a 3-0 sweep over Reading. They remain undefeated at 13-0. (Donna Larsson photo)


MELROSE—The Melrose High girls’ volleyball team remains unbeaten after back-to-back wins over Belmont and Reading last week to remain a perfect 13-0 (10-0 league). On Monday, Melrose hosted the Reading Rockets (5-6) at a humid Melrose Middle School gym and fought to victory in sets of 25-17, 25-22 and 25-13. Senior capt. Saoirse Connolly and sophomore Emma Randolph led on offense with 10 kills a piece. 

Melrose enjoyed a strong first set open after senior captain Jill Mercer led on the service line with back to back aces and kills from Erin Torpey, Lily Fitzgerald and Saoirse Connolly that gave Melrose a slim lead of 6-4. Melrose had the case of the first set shakes, allowing the Rockets to climb into the match at 11-9, but some lights out serving by Fitzgerald and well timed kills by Randolph and Grace Davis extended Melrose’s lead to 17-12. Mercer was strong again on the service line, with service points and an ace, extending the set to 21-14. Emma Randolph and Saoirse Connolly smacked some set killers for a final 25-17 and it was Melrose 1, Reading, 0. 

Reading had all the momentum in set 2, and played with an intensity that threw Melrose off guard. It was a dirt fight with ties of 2-2, 4-4 before solid serving from Nicole Abbott and Saoirse Connolly broke it open at 9-6. Melrose offense appeared stalled while Reading climbed into the game and made it a 14-14 contest. The Rockets took their first lead at the 17-16 point but a well timed kill by Lydia Lombardo tied it back up at 17. Melrose fell to another deficit of 21-19, but a tremendous rally by Emma Randolph thwarted that, with 4 straight kills helped lift Melrose, and a huge save by Erin Torpey preserved the set win, 25-22.  

That battle took the wind out of Reading’s sails, and despite the set score, the Rockets proved a great defensive team that made Melrose work. But Melrose fared better in set three, taking leads of 4-0 behind kills of Lombardo and Randolph. Sophomore Mary Kate Mahoney impressed over the day, and was particularly strong in set three, with excellent back row defense and nice runs on the service line that helped Melrose take a 15-7 lead. The closest Reading got to Melrose was 17-12 and monster kills by Randolph and Connolly reversed that. Lily Fitzgerald finished the set with missile-like serving with back-to-back aces and Lombardo kill closed the game up 25-13. 

At 13-0 Melrose, already guaranteed a playoff spot, is currently ranked within the top five in most polls. Their attackers Emma Randolph and Saoirse Connolly have big numbers with 130 and 129 kills, respectively, and Lily Fitzgerald has tallied 293 assists, which puts all within the top 5 of the state.

At presstime, Melrose was slated to travel to Winchester on Wednesday to face the 10-1 Sachems, who knocked them out of the playoffs last season. Melrose’s next text is on Monday when D2 rival Bishop Fenwick arrives for a 5:30 game.