Clean sweep for Melrose, 3-0, to start season
Published March 12, 2021
By JENNIFER GENTILE
MELROSE—The Melrose High girls’ volleyball team picked up where they left off 485 days ago—the last day they competed—with a season-opener 3-0 sweep over Stoneham on Saturday, March 6 at the Melrose Middle School gym. The girls start their season at 1-0 and will re-play Stoneham on Saturday to conclude their two-match series at Stoneham High at noon. With spectator limitations in place, fans can catch the teams in action via Stoneham’s Youtube channel: SHS Athletics2
Melrose played with a smooth efficiency and showed little cracks in their veneer against a struggling Stoneham team. Melrose junior Elena Soukos was commanding, leading all scoring with 10 kills for Melrose and several service points, while setter Eva Haralabatos went on an astounding 22-0 service run to open set one which essentially set the tone for the day. It was easy business for Melrose who never took a deficit or ties against the Spartans in any sets and the Red Raiders prevailed in sets of 25-3, 25-13 and 25-12.
Because of the competition inequity, Melrose was able to use their reserves off the bench, giving new varsity players quality time on the floor. Earning their first varsity minutes were new players Ava Burns, Emma Desmond, Grace Gentile, Sadie Jaggers, Ava McSorley and Gia Vlajkovic.
It was a rather low scoring affair for Melrose in terms of kills because of extended times on the service line. Finding the floor in set one was Elena Soukos, sophomore capt. Chloe Gentile, Gia Vlajkovic and Abby Hudson. But set one was all Eva Haralabatos. The setter was flawless on the for 21 straight points giving Melrose massive leads of 10-0, 16-0 and 20-0 just ten minutes into the game. Stoneham finally found their footing and managed two kills to prevent the shutout. Set 2 was a little more competitive, and once again Melrose’s servers did the job. Junior captain Autumn Whelan started things off on the line and earned a number of service points to give Melrose early leads of 3-0 and 6-1. Senior captain Emily Hudson had two key kills early in the set that kept Melrose well ahead and Elena Soukos shined in the set with a two kills and an ace at the serving line. Set three was more of an even affair with Melrose utilizing newer players, and Melrose took leads of 5-2, 10-5 and 15-7 behind the hitting of Soukos. Libero Autumn Whelan was flawless on defense and Emily Hudson enjoyed a solid run on the service line. Soukous also had service points to help Melrose take a large lead 22-10 before the eventual set win.
An early take from the win is that while Melrose’s hallmark this season might be hitting, Melrose defense appears so far to be up to par. Efforts from Whelan, Sofia Centrella, Ava McSorley and Grace Gentile gave little away, lending to the idea that this well-rounded team will remain favorites in the Middlesex League. Round two takes place this Saturday on the road at Stoneham High. Fans can tune in at noon to watch the action at Stoneham’s Youtube channel, SHS Athletics2, or visit our Twitter page for additional information.