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Thursday, September 4, 2014

Nashua area volleyball teams find open field

The best news for the other 19 girls volleyball teams in Division I is that Molly Wotton, of Dover High School, has graduated.

Last year, the two-time Gatorade Player of the Year led the Green Wave to a perfect 22-0 season and the program’s first championship. ...

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The best news for the other 19 girls volleyball teams in Division I is that Molly Wotton, of Dover High School, has graduated.

Last year, the two-time Gatorade Player of the Year led the Green Wave to a perfect 22-0 season and the program’s first championship.

This year, while Dover should still be a contender, the field seems to be a little more open.

Merrimack will once again challenge for a title after getting close the last three years. The Tomahawks reached the final in 2011 – falling to Hollis Brookline – and have advanced to the semifinals in each of the last two years. With senior Jen Coffey, who could be this year’s Gatorade winner, returning, Merrimack will be a tough out.

After losing in the D-I first round the last two years, HB is poised to return to its championship form of three years ago behind seniors Emma Tanner, Kayla Barron, Emily Cook and Kristin Johnson. The Cavaliers will also see history made this season, as coach Becky Balfour is closing in on her 300th career win.

Despite losing seven seniors from last year’s semifinal team, Alvirne returns a strong team that should be among the tops in the division again, while Nashua North has a strong returning group that took Salem, last year’s runner-up, to a fifth game in the quarterfinals. Nashua South will try to build on a strong finish to last season while Bishop Guertin has a new head coach in Abby Rosen.

For just the second time in the last 18 years, Gilford didn’t advance to its respective championship game, as Coe-Brown, of Northwood, knocked the Golden Eagles out in the Division II semifinals on its way to a championship.

Gilford and Coe-Brown, along with last year’s runner-up, Windham, and Portsmouth should be among the top teams in D-II. Milford, which returns every key contributor from a team that went 14-4 last year, hopes to be there as well. Leading the way for Milford is senior libero Amanda Alcox, who was a D-II first team player a year ago, along with seniors Jess Leach and Abby Blanchet and junior Olivia Rougeau.

Souhegan is in its second year under had coach Kelly Olsen and the Sabers will look to improve on a season that saw them finish strong and grab a D-II playoff berth.

In Division III, Campbell will try to take the next step with the help of its strong junior class, led by Olivia Martinage. Nute and Winnisquam have played in the final the last two years, which each winning a title.

DIVISION I

Alvirne

COACH: Joe Walz (second year).

LAST YEAR: 17-4, lost in the semifinals.

RETURNING STARTERS: Malory Coronis, jr, outside hitter; Jess Baker, jr, right side; Emily Sullivan, jr, right side.

RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Steph Jones, sr, setter; Kim Cook, sr, outside hitter.

PROMISING NEWCOMERS: Vivian Susko, jr, Libero; Morgan Leonard, sr, right side; Amanda Wetmore, so, middle blocker; Lauren Donahue, sr, setter; Paige Simoneau, jr, middle blocker.

COACH’S COMMENTS: “Despite losing seven seniors last year, five of them being starters, the new group of girls that will be filling in for them look very promising,” Walz said. “We are a young team, but our level of skill is very high. With Malory Coronis returning on the outside and Amanda Wetmore taking over the middle position, our offense is looking strong and steady. Steph Jones and Lauren Donahue will be in charge of conducting the offense and will have a lineup with plenty of options. There is plenty of room for improvement this season and we will be ready for any challenge that we may face.”

Bishop Guertin

COACH: Abby Rosen (first year)

LAST YEAR: 4-14, lost in preliminary round.

RETURNING STARTERS: Mackenzie Sweeney, jr, MH; Kasey Massicotte, jr, S; Lexie Cambray, jr, OH; Sara Shields, sr, OH.

RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Emma Williams, jr, OH; Hannah Glasheen jr, L; Danielle Szczygielski, so, S; Meghan Feenan, sr, RS; Jenna McCormack, so, S.

PROMISING NEWCOMERS: Margaret Richardson, so, MH; Sara Sherburne, jr, RS; Jillian Rabasco, so, MH.

Hollis Brookline

COACH: Becky Balfour (15th year).

LAST YEAR: 9-10, lost in the preliminary round.

RETURNING STARTERS: Emma Tanner, sr., setter; Kayla Barron, sr., setter; Emily Cook, sr., middle hitter; Kristin Johnson, sr., middle hitter; Maddy Blake, jr., outside hitter; Bella Zampieri, jr., outside hitter.

RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Kaitlyn Kozsan, sr., Libero; Gabby Pickard, sr., middle hitter; Sophia Saunders, jr. OH/RS.

PROMISING NEWCOMERS: Kaleigh Crocker, sr., OH/RS; Monika Schneider, jr., OH/RS; Alexis Chilton, jr., OH/RS; Hannah Balfour, so., setter; Selene Berube, so., Libero; Kaitlin Johnson, so., middle hitter.

COACH’S COMMENTS: “We return a lot of players from last year and have strong additions to the team as well,” Balfour said, “so we are looking forward to a solid and successful season ahead.”

Merrimack

COACH: Tammy Lambrou (10th year).

LAST YEAR: 15-3, lost in semi finals

RETURNING STARTERS: Jen Coffey, sr, OH; Caitlyn Paulson, sr, DS; Jo Coffey, jr, setter; Elise Jolly, so, MH; Lianna Kilinger, so, Libero.

RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Jackie Petricelli, sr, RS; Tayla Schipilliti, sr, OH.

PROMISING NEWCOMERS: Katie Flynn, jr, OH; Alexa Ladue, jr, OH; Courtney McCarthy, jr, MH; Addie Lacey, soph, MH; Jess Bonner, soph, DS.

Nashua North

COACH: John Connolly (26th year).

LAST YEAR: 13-7, lost in quarterfinals.

RETURNING STARTERS: Kaylee Verrington; Sabrina Ivory; Rosa Casalduc; Amanda Stumpf; Taylor Choate.

RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Allison Paluzzi; Erica White; Roshely Casalduc; Adaeze Okorie; Sarah Cordova; Samantha Holloran.

PROMISING NEWCOMERS: Sina Duncan; Holly Reed; Kaleigh Dozois; Katherine Amrein.

COACH’S COMMENTS: “This year’s squad is very talented with very strong senior leadership,” Connolly said.

Nashua South

COACH: Bonny Ducharme (sixth year).

LAST YEAR: 5-13, lost in preliminary round.

RETURNING STARTERS: Cassandra Putsch, sr, outside, Kiela Bridge, sr., middle, Sarah Drake, jr., Libero; Olivia Toth, sr., setter; Mallory McCabe, sr., setter; Samanatha Guilfoil, sr., setter; Elizabeth Ux, jr., outside; Juana Borg, sr,. middle.

PROMISING NEWCOMERS: Daria Putsch, so., outside/middle; Olivia Martinez, sr., right side; Talia Thurber, sr., Libero; Heather Bridge, fr., middle.

COACH’S COMMENTS: “We all have the same goals in mind for the season and they are very determined to reach those goals,” Ducharme said. “I’m very excited for the season to start but even more excited to help and see this team reach their goals.”

DIVISION II

Milford

COACH: Charles Roberson (24th year).

LAST YEAR: 14-4, lost in the quarterfinals.

RETURNING STARTERS: Amanda Alcox, sr., Libero; Jess Leach, sr., OS; Hanna Hembrow, jr., S; Abby Blanchet, sr., S; Cecilia Arnoldy, sr., MH; Jess Scott, sr., OS; Olivia Rougeau, jr., MH; Mary Griggs, so., MH.

RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Barbara Ferraz, sr., S; Zoe Menendez, sr., DS; Maddy Wheeler, so., OS.

PROMISING NEWCOMERS: Casey Covell, so., OH; Natalie Olsen. jr., S.

COACH’S COMMENTS: “This team has the potential to be very good,” Roberson said. “We are solid at all positions.”

Souhegan

COACH: Kelly Olsen (second year).

LAST YEAR: 6-10, lost in preliminary round.

RETURNING STARTERS: Sam Allen, sr., outside; Oksana Clay, sr., setter; Hannah Cochran, jr., outside.

RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Esther Johnson, sr., middle; Brooke Tanguay, jr., outside.

PROMISING NEWCOMER: Sydney French, so.

COACH’S COMMENTS: “This year we are starting off ahead of the point we were at this same time last year during preseason,” Olsen said. “The additional hard work and commitment our team has put in during the offseason with conditioning, attending our team summer camp and open gyms, are turning out to be crucial toward our strong team development. We look forward to a competitive season full of hard work, dedication and excitement.”

DIVISION III

Campbell

COACH: Colin Walker (fifth year).

LAST YEAR: 15-3, lost in quarterfinals.

RETURNING STARTERS: Sophie Scafidi, jr, setter; Val Boucher, jr, Libero; Olivia Martinage, jr, outside hitter.

RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Emma Kuczkowski, sr, middle; Taysia Boyson, jr, setter/DS; Talia Hardy, jr, DS; Avery Lacroix, jr, DS; Amanda Simoneau, sr, DS.

PROMISING NEWCOMERS: Meredith Marr, sr, middle; Gabbi Sott, fr, outside hitter.

COACH’S COMMENTS: “The core of this team (six juniors) has gone 33-4 over the past two seasons and looks to continue its success with a deep playoff run,” Walker said. “Newcomer Gabbi Sott is the next in line of a series of strong outside hitters to wear Campbell colors.”

Note: Attempts to reach Wilton-Lyndeborough were unsuccessful.