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2021 HS volleyball preview: Everybody back in the gymnasium

  • Rosa Bradley, left, and Esther Hacker jump to block a ball hit by Caitlin Fillinger, right, during a volleyball practice at Hanover High School in Hanover, N.H., on Tuesday, August 24, 2021. (Valley News / Report For America - Alex Driehaus) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Talia Daft sets the ball during a volleyball practice at Hanover High School in Hanover, N.H., on Tuesday, August 24, 2021. (Valley News / Report For America - Alex Driehaus) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. valley news / report for america — Alex Driehaus

  • From left, Darien Ray, Ada Callaway, Annika Lackstrom and Rosa Bradley joke with varsity head coach Megan McFarland, right, during a volleyball practice at Hanover High School in Hanover, N.H., on Tuesday, August 24, 2021. (Valley News / Report For America - Alex Driehaus) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Alex Driehaus

  • Varsity players lock their pinkies together at the end of a volleyball practice at Hanover High School in Hanover, N.H., on Tuesday, August 24, 2021. The team usually ends every practice with this gesture, but the COVID-19 pandemic prevented them from doing it last year. (Valley News / Report For America - Alex Driehaus) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Alex Driehaus

Valley News Correspondent
Published: 9/2/2021 12:01:21 AM
Modified: 9/2/2021 12:01:28 AM

The 2020 Upper Valley high school volleyball season, like those for all other sports, was certainly unusual.

New Hampshire squads were able to stay indoors, but players were masked and fans were nonexistent. Vermont teams had an odder scene: All games were played outside and, instead of a state tournament, Mid Vermont Christian hosted a postseason invitational.

The game is back to normal this fall … or as close to normal as it can be. Hanover returns from a superior 2020 campaign, Mascoma continues signs of improvement, MVCS will again go up against Vermont’s big schools and Stevens returns to building its program.

Hanover

Coach: Megan McFarland (5).

Last year: 7-1, lost in quarterfinals.

League: NHIAA Division II.

Returnees: Senior — Esther Hacker (OH). Juniors — Caitlin Fillinger (RS), Josie Hall (DS), Natalia Somoff (DS), Darien Ray (MB). Sophomores — Ada Callaway (OH), Talia Daft (S).

Newcomers (positions TBD): Junior — Lilly Clapp. Sophomores — Rosa Bradley, Annika Lackstrom.

Analysis: Hanover graduated four players, including one of the state’s top liberos, but a group of juniors and sophomores with experience are ready to fill the void, coach Megan McFarland said.

“We will spend this year rebuilding but see a significant amount of improvement with our returning athletes,” McFarland said. “The sophomore class specifically sees three blocking forces at 5-10 and above in Bradley, Lackstrom, and Callaway, as well as the starting varsity setter, Daft, who led the team in several statistical categories her freshman season. With a large junior class to complement and with focus and determination, this group could make a big impact.”

Mascoma

Coach: Eric Ramage (4).

Last year: 2-9, ost to Sunapee in first round.

League: NHIAA Division III.

Returnees: Seniors — Jenna Bean, Cardigan Loupis, Opal Shinnlinger, Emma Zuger.

Newcomers: Sophomore — Patience Maville. Freshmen — Anna Sullivan, Abby Waugh.

Analysis: “We are looking forward to the leadership of our four returning seniors to help us blend in players new to varsity and new to the program,” coach Eric Ramage said. “Our focus is to work as a team, keep learning from everything and have another strong season.”

Mid Vermont Christian

Coaches: Tom Evans (2) and Helen Jenks (4).

Last year: 7-2, won own postseason invitational tournament.

League: VPA Division I

Returnees: Seniors — Delaney Gross, (S/OH), Haley Goodwin (MH). Juniors — Sara Bascom (MH), Deborah Airoldi (MH). Sophomore — Cossette Meloon (H). Freshmen: Maggie Sharkey (H), Lily Horner-Richardson (H).

Newcomers: Junior — Skye Whitcomb (OH). Freshman — Felicity Adams (MH).

Analysis: The Eagles bring back four starters from last year’s squad but will be without junior Sarah Bascom, who is sidelined for the season with an injury.

“We will be looking for support from returning players Sharkey and Horner Richardson,” said coach Tom Evans of two Eagles to played varsity as eighth graders last year. “This is a young team but has potential.”

Stevens

Co-coaches: Rick Dorcely (3), Meryden Seaver (1) and Kori Joyce (1).

■Last year: 2-8, lost in quarterfinals to Sunapee.

League: NHIAA Division III.

Returnees: Seniors — Alexys Corliss, Kirsten Lawrence, Madasia VanGuilder. Juniors — Alison Blish, Mackenzie Frisbee, Sabrina Hagar, Emma LaPlante. Sophomore — Alana O’Connell. Freshman — Zoie Stevens

Newcomers: Junior — Lexi Wilson. Sophomores — Elise Smith, Mercedes Van Guilder.

Analysis: The Cardinals broke into the win column last season for the first time in several years — they also claimed a state tournament match — and Dorcely thinks they have turned the corner to more success ahead.

“This year, we have the goal of building upon our successes and learning from our losses,” he said. “We are a small group with the right attitude. At this time, fans are permitted to attend our home games, so we are hoping for a lot of support to help celebrate our victories. It’s taken a little time, but we are building something in Claremont, and this time might be a breakout season.”




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