Earns 21st win after Melrose (21-3) beats Bedford, Greater Lawrence
Published in the November 13, 2015 edition
By JENNIFER GENTILE
MELROSE — The Melrose Lady Raider volleyball team is one step closer to returning to the Div. 2 North finals after back-to-back wins over Bedford and Greater Lawrence this week. Melrose swept the competition in all six sets, taking 3-0 victories in each game, earning their 21st win of the season. At 21-3 Melrose is hoping a victory against Danvers on Wednesday (post deadline) will return them to the Div. 2 North finals held this Saturday, Nov. 14 at Tewksbury High at 3 p.m.
Melrose began the winning week taking down an overwhelmed Greater Lawrence team last Friday in the Melrose Middle School gym in sets of 25-10, 25-19, 25-3. Melrose’s Victoria Crovo led in offense with 11 kills and Marissa Cataldo and Hannah Mulcahey both had 8. Libero Kaitlyn MacInnes was flawless at the serving line and setter Lily Fitzgerald tallied 24 assists.
A feistier team arrived on Monday evening at the Melrose Middle School gym when No. 13th seeded Bedford came to town. Melrose walked away in sets of 25-18, 25-20, 25-10. The Buccaneers took an early leads of 5-2, and 14-10, as Melrose shook out the nerves. Victoria Crovo (11 kills) turned things around at the 15 point mark with strategic kills that swung the momentum in Melrose’s favor, giving them a lead of 16-14. Saoirse Connolly helped Crovo man the net up front and Hannah Mulcahey (12 kills) went on an offensive run to lift Melrose 19-15 and Lily Fitzgerald had a key service run toward the end of the set, including an ace, that helped Melrose take a 25-18 set 1 victory.
In set two Melrose capitalized on a number of Bedford errors but Crovo’s work kept Melrose tied at points 5, 7 and 8. Crovo had seven kills in the set. Julia Symonds enjoyed a nice service run and libero Kaitlyn MacInnes played the best game of her career with a number of dives on the pine helping Melrose take the set 25-20. In set three Marissa Cataldo (9 total kills) brought offensive power, with 6 kills in the set, along with solid serving. Bella Federico chipped in with a number of kills, stepping in for senior Meagan Leyne, who left the game with an injured foot. Melrose dominated the Buccaneers, despite a strong hitter in senior Gwen Gardner and proficient libero Nghi Nguyen. Melrose coasted to a quicker win in this set at 25-10 and the 3-0 victory was theirs.
The evening was a chance for local fans to see up close some of the best power hitters in the division from Melrose: Victoria Crovo, Hannah Mulcahey and Marissa Cataldo. Each Lady Raider demonstrated what they kind of hitting they bring to the floor. Cataldo, recently named to the MGVCA Div. 2 All State team, delivers strategic kills, Mucahey’s power can bruise an opponent’s face and Crovo’s front row block kills deny the best hitters in Massachusetts. It’s this trio of weapons Melrose will use for a Div. 2 North title or State Championship run. But if the second half of the season has shown anything, it is the growth and maturity of their new positional players, Kaitlyn MacInnes (libero) and Lily Fitzgerald (setter). Both have worked tirelessly in the second half of the 2015 season, showing experience beyond their years, particular against an energized Bedford team.
After the game, Melrose coach Scott Celli noted Bedford’s effort. “They came in with nothing to lose. But I think set three was indicative of where we are as a team. We fired on all cylinders and I think it started with our front row.”
At press time Melrose was slated to host ninth seeded Danvers (13-5) on Wednesday for the right to contend for a D2 North crown. Celli watched the opponent recently. “They’re good, young, energetic, a lot like this team we faced tonight.”
Melrose junior captain Victoria Crovo likes their chances in the playoffs. “With Lily setting, Marissa and Hannah on the outside, when we play our game, we are unstoppable. If we stay mentally tough we can go all the way.”
Senior captain Marissa Cataldo noted the strong start of Bedford and Melrose’s ability to clamp down. “They were fired up and came right at us, but we held it together and got the job done.”
Over the season Melrose has enjoyed their share of upsets, taking down some surprising opponents such as Newton North and Arlington Catholic. Cataldo acknowledged the rivalry against Arlington Catholic this season. “There’s a rivalry there and we get fired up playing them,” she said. There exists a likelihood they will face the Cougars in a Div. 2 North title game. Arlington Catholic plays Marblehead Wednesday evening, and likely has the edge. Melrose and Arlington Catholic have a long rivalry, and Melrose beat them earlier this season 3-0.
Hannah Mulcahey, enjoying a stellar playoffs, agreed that Melrose’s goal is to win a state championship. She considers the Bedford win as the most meaningful. “It makes us on step closer to our goal as a team,” she said, while her teammate Crovo agrees. “It kept us alive and showed our mental toughness.”
Junior libero Kaitlyn MacInnes, who Celli credited on Monday for her great back row defense, said that Melrose is a team who gets better over time. “We always have a strong third game and we find our rhythm.” And while MacInnes hopes to get to the Div. 2 State game she wisely noted, “First have to take care of Danvers.”
Fans are encouraged to visit www.miaa.net for up to date tournament information.
Remaining Div. 2 North Bracket (at press time, 11/11)
Gm 13: 11/11 7pm
at: *Melrose (21-3)
Gm 14: 11/11 4pm
*Arlington Catholic (16-4)
at: *Marblehead (17-1)
13 winner vs. 14 winner
Game 15: DIV. 2 NORTH FINAL
Sat 11/14 3 p.m. Tewksbury High School