L-S knocking on the door
For the past three years, Lincoln-Sudbury has been inching closer to a Division 1 girls’ volleyball state championship. This year, it could make the final step.
The Warriors have ammunition this year with a line of power hitters led by Alex Braverman and 6-footers Mandy Sifferlen and Meghan Klapper, who are skilled blockers. Braverman not only dominates outside hitting and blocking, but has a serve with topspin that will frustrate opponents.
“We are definitely more strategic with our serving,’’ said coach Judy Katalina. “The kids are more controlled and have more movement, which is important for tougher teams.’’
The Warriors must plow through a tough schedule of Dual County and Bay State League competitors before facing teams such as Barnstable and Medfield, but Katalina is ready as she approaches her 300th career victory. Her team has gone 74-2 since 2008.
“There’s no day off in our league,’’ said Katalina.
Barnstable, with 13 titles under its belt, returns setter Kayla Crook, outside hitter Carolyn Morin, and All-Scholastic Kaylee Deluga, who was on the Division 1 All-State team and was most productive at middle. Six seniors return: Crook, Morin, Nikki Deluga, Aine Cole, Lynne Hibbard, and Lexi Malakhoff.
“They’ve been on a team that hasn’t made it to a state championship and one that has. They’ve experienced both, so they’re pretty self-motivated,’’ said coach Tom Turco.
South finalist New Bedford graduated Division 1 Player of the Year Maura Manley, a huge blow to its offense, and is looking at a rebuilding year after losing nine seniors.
With three consecutive Division 2 state titles, Medfield will be a team to follow despite losing six seniors, including the height and power of Kathleen Krah and Natalie Dickinson and the setting of Hannah Donnelly.
Andover, which lost to Barnstable in the state semis, returns three Merrimack Valley Conference All-Stars and senior outside hitter Sarah Arvidson (150 kills and 170 digs last season).
Division 1 state semifinalist North Quincy has experience in returning libero Elizabeth Sullivan and outside hitter Emily Ainsley along with offensive weapon Olivia Umoren in the middle.
“Olivia is a big gun in the front row. She’s been able to score points on offense and is a real weapon,’’ said coach Kerry Ginty.
Division 3 state finalist Case returns a loaded senior class, including All-Star Jenn Cabral, who notched a 91-percent serving average, and the consistent Shannon Orton.
State champion Frontier, which went 26-0, returns junior Cassidy Stankowski, who finished with 219 kills. Since 2007, Frontier has gone 90-4, with tournament appearances every year.
Other teams to look out for this fall include Brookline, Fairhaven, Central Catholic, Newton North, North Attleboro, Boston Latin, and Newton South.
Field hockey In Division 1, Andover returns All-Scholastic junior Jaclyn Torres to a team that finished 24-0 and beat Algonquin in the state title game. Along with Anne and Kate Farnham and senior captain Taylor Farris, Andover should be strong again. If Andover stumbles, Acton-Boxboro, which lost to Andover in the North final, could step in, as well as South champion Walpole, which finished 22-1 last year, and lost to Andover in the EMass final.
Senior All-Scholastic Erika Kelly returns to a Watertown lineup that finished 23-0 and won the Division 2 state title for the second straight year. Kayla Costa is back in net for coach Eileen Donahue, who is entering her 26th year in Watertown.
Canton, which lost to Watertown in the EMass final, could challenge again.
Swimming Andover will begin pursuit of its 12th state title with a roster loaded with returning talent. All-Scholastics Maggie D’Innocenzo, Rachel Moore, Ashlee Korsberg, Emma Cammann, Alexa Korsberg, and Maeve Awiszus are all back for coach Marilyn Fitzgerald . . . Michelle Millerd takes over the coaching duties at Notre Dame (H) with a new dive coach as well in Chris Benisch. All-Scholastic Taylor Ellis returns for ND. Division 2 champion Reading’s challenge is to find a replacement for four-time All-Scholastic swimmer Erica Belcher.
Bob Holmes contributed to this report.