THE MELROSE High girls’ volleyball team is one win away from a State Final after an epic 3-1 win over Duxbury last Friday. At press time they were scheduled to play King Philip on Wednesday in Final Four action for the right to advance. (photo by Raj Das,


Melrose knocks off #2 Duxbury to advance to Final Four




DUXBURY—The reigning Sectional champion Melrose volleyball team has repeated history by clinching another Div. 2 Sectional trophy and advancing to the Final Four in a march towards a hopeful State Championship, slated for this weekend. This is the second year straight Melrose has earned a Sectional trophy.

Melrose (19-4) knocked off No. 3 Duxbury, 3-1, on the road at Duxbury High last Friday night in sets of 25-17, 25-17, 18-25 and 24-21.

At press time, No. 6 Melrose was slated to travel to Framingham High to take on No. 2 King Philip for the right to get to Div. 2 States for the first time since 2017. The stakes could not be higher. (Fans will know to check our social media pages and the MIAA website for up-to-date game information.)

An elated Melrose team poured to the gym floor to celebrate the win, which came in the fourth set off an overpass kill by junior captain Sadie Jaggers to clinch it. Melrose was then presented another D2 Sectional trophy to take back home to the hallowed halls of Melrose High.

Duxbury had taken a third set from Melrose and threatened in the fourth with leads of 13-8 and 18-15 but Melrose stormed back behind a great service run from senior Emma Desmond. Melrose didn’t want to go to a fifth set when the pendulum was veering in Duxbury’s direction. There was a sense of relief, but also less panic than Melrose’s Final Four victory in 2021 against Billerica. Melrose had simply dominated and were in control in sets 1 and 2, though Duxbury proved to be the team as advertised in set 3.

Melrose head coach Scott Celli noted the stakes going into this game. “This [Duxbury] team was undefeated and we weren’t going to give up on their home court.” Celli also referenced a call at point 20 that fell to Duxbury’s favor in set 4 that displeased Melrose players and fans. “After that call, we never lost another point. Credit to [Duxbury] because we made some mistakes but just fought and fought.”

Melrose offense was led by Gia Vlajkovic with 21 kills, followed by Sadie Jaggers (14) and Chloe Gentile (13), while Anna Shoemaker powered 9 kills with fine outside work. Ruth Breen had a massive 48 assists over the night. Yet, it was a complete group effort with some of the best defensive work Melrose has offered this season from a strong Emma Desmond, Grace Gentile and Ava McSorley, who along with Desmond and Breen, offered flawless serving that’s made all the difference in playoffs.

Notes Celli, “I think our serving was the real difference tonight and especially our defense in the first set. It was spot on.”

Some of that flawless serving came at the hands of tireless libero Emma Desmond, who credited the front line for making her job a little easier. “I think our blocking behind Chloe and Sadie was amazing, so it allowed me to get a good read on the ball.”

Serving takes nerves of steel and senior Ava McSorley had it. She said after the game, “It’s about staying calm and thinking about it like a regular game.”

While the game felt like a carbon copy of their quarterfinal game against Billerica (see accompanying story) senior hitter Anna Shoemaker sees both similarities and differences. “They [Billerica] were just as strong, but we felt a little calmer in this game, and I think more confident. We were definitely able to hit a lot more.”

In Set 1, Melrose was simply dominant with kills from Chloe Gentile and Manon Marchais kicking things off, and four from Anna Shoemaker to put Melrose up 10-6. Duxbury had some fire power but saw scoops from Grace Gentile off the floor to prevent points. Gia Vlajkovic added four kills and Sadie Jaggers two to close the door, 25-17. That would also be the score in set two, dominated by Vlajkovic with seven kills, while Sadie Jaggers had four. Set three was when Duxbury crept into the game despite four kills apiece by Chloe Gentile and Sadie Jaggers. Melrose was in better command in the final, winning set, and saw a critical service run by Leah Fowke keep Melrose locked in scores of 4-4, 6-6.

Melrose faced a deficit of 13-8 but didn’t panic, while chipping away with kills from Gentile and Jaggers. Melrose would regain the lead in a critical stretch of play. Desmond tied things up 18-18 after two straight service points and Chloe Gentile would tie it up 20-20 with two straight kills. Fueled by a questionable call that went the Dragons’ way, Melrose responded. Vlajkovic nailed two kills, Gentile an ace at the service line, and with the game on the line at 24-21, Melrose saw an overpass kill by Jaggers seal the State Sectional victory.

After the game, Coach Celli noted that it might have been easy to be intimidated coming into the gym. “Beating an undefeated team in their gym this late in the tournament is a lot, and I just thought we played a great match.”