Published in the November 1, 2018 edition.
By DAN PAWLOWSKI
WAKEFIELD — When Wakefield volleyball’s six seniors entered the program back in 2015, the Warriors were starting a long process of building up to one day compete with the top teams in the Middlesex League.
During their last day as a volleyball Warrior on Monday at the Charbonneau Field House, the class of 2019 left with a record number of wins and a unified identity that will push the process onward, even after they are gone.
“Whether our seniors are on or off the court they impact what we’re doing,” said Wakefield head coach Sasha Duprey. “They’re leaving behind a really awesome legacy and leaving the program better than when they started.”
In fact, throughout their four years, captain Eadeen Beck, Hannah Butler, Jaime Greatorex, Casey Kearney, captain Sam Yandell and team manager Izzy Fortier, helped the varsity improve from one win when they were freshmen, to five wins as sophomores, six as juniors and a program-record seven as seniors this season.
That alone, should be enough to be proud of, but getting better on the court is only half the battle.
Monday’s Senior Night began with a thank you from coach Duprey who handed the mic over to her underclassmen.
Each senior was represented by an underclassman who wrote personalized letters to their teammates and read them to the crowd. For the record, I wasn’t crying, it was just allergies.
Yes, there might have been a few tears, but that’s what happens when you have a group that means so much to their teammates.
“I’ve got some really emotional children, in a good way. They were crying in the hallway before we came out, before anyone gave a speech,” said Duprey with a smile, who said it’s one of the reasons she typically keeps her speeches short and writes letters to her student athletes.
But in all seriousness, the moment proved that the Warriors see the bigger picture. Being there for your friends and teammates should always be the top priority.
“You can see the passion and the love for each other and for the sport pouring out of them in that moment and so at the end of the day I think we had a really great season and these girls genuinely care about each other and made some really awesome memories,” said Duprey. “That’s what it’s about.”
So after all of that, how do you play volleyball?
Wakefield matched up against a talented 14-6 Marblehead team who took an early lead in set one.
Thanks in part to some timely kills from Hannah Butler, the Warriors got back into it. Butler’s sophomore sister, Clara, had an ace to make it 19-16 and Hannah later made it 19-18.
Beck hit an ace to cut the lead to 21-20 and Clara Butler later had a nicely executed fake set for a kill, but Marblehead got the last two points of the set to take a 25-23 set one win.
The Magicians maintained that momentum in the second and ran away with a 25-11 set win.
It felt like maybe the emotional start to the night had drained Wakefield’s energy, especially when Marblehead took a commanding 6-2 lead in the third set.
The Warriors didn’t agree with that exactly.
Sparked by a ridiculous save from Clara Butler, who ran into the stands and hit the ball backwards over her head on a third hit to keep a rally alive that Wakefield would win for quite possibly the loudest point in Wake volleyball history, the Warriors roared back.
Greatorex got a kill to make it 13-5 Marblehead and junior Rachel Danzig had one of her patented “Air Danzig” spikes to later make it 14-8. Two great digs from Danzig and Clara Butler kept a rally alive that Danzig ended to make it 14-10.
Junior Katie Pearl later stepped to the service line and got back-to-back aces to cut the lead to three. Beck got a kill, Pearl added another ace, and Hannah Butler followed a kill from the middle with an ace of her own to finally tie it at 19. A block from junior Maddie Melanson made it 20-19.
The biggest point of the set was won on a wild rally that gave Wakefield a 21-20 lead and all the momentum. On the play, junior Jordyn Pugsley had a diving dig on Marblehead’s serve and after Wakefield just barely kept it alive on multiple occasions, Beck ended it with spike that sent the Warriors into a frenzy.
Melanson got them a point from the middle and Beck picked up another kill for a 24-22 lead. Danzig would finish it with a spike and a smile for a 25-22 Warrior win.
That comeback, though sparked by Beck, Butler and Greatorex, was an effort by the younger Warriors playing for their seniors.
“The whole team wanted to do it for the seniors,” said Duprey of that third set comeback. “It always helps when you develop some extra motivation; you’re going to play better volleyball.”
The Warriors finally ran out of gas in the fourth as the Magicians won it 25-10.
Hannah Butler and Greatorex finished with seven kills to lead Wakefield. Beck and Danzig each had six. Clara Butler finished with four aces, six digs and 24 assists. Pearl had three aces and 11 digs. Beck led the team with 14 digs while Greatorex had eight.
In the end, the seniors earned the respect of their coaches, teammates and fans during a special night honoring years of dedication.
“For the past couple of years this group has been the heart and soul,” said Duprey who credits these seniors for helping her get the underclassmen to buy into the system during her second as head coach. “They have always been unified. They’re leaving a big hole and they’re going to be really missed but we’ve got some really awesome juniors and some underclassmen who are hopefully going to fill their shoes.”