Volleyball team reaches finals of GBL tourney
The Everett High volleyball team saved its best for last, as the Crimson Tide played their best ball of the season to advance to the finals of last week’s Greater Boston League Tournament.
Although Coach Mike Fineran’s charges eventually fell in the championship match to Medford by a 3-1 score, they eviscerated Somerville and top seeded Cambridge, the GBL’s number one team, in a pair of 3-0, straight-set matches, en route to the title round.
“The girls really put it all together against Somerville and Cambridge,” a pleased Fineran said afterwards, who noted that this marked the first time that Everett had defeated Cambridge in five years. “Not only did we win in straight sets for the first time this season, but other than a 1-0 deficit to Cambridge in the second set, we never trailed in any of the sets.”
The march to the finals was all the more impressive because it came amidst a stretch of five matches in five days, beginning with a regular season encounter at Cambridge last Monday, followed by a contest with a state-title contending Pope John High team on Tuesday, and then the battles with Somerville, Cambridge, and Medford on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday.
Fineran said he had an inkling that his team would hit its stride in the GBL tourney after nearly upsetting a Pope John Tiger team that has but one loss all season. PJ handily had dispatched with Everett in their first meeting a few weeks ago with a straight set win. But this time around the Crimson Tide almost turned the tables, forcing Pope John into five sets before falling by a 15-12 margin in the fifth set. Indeed, Everett held a 12-11 advantage in that final set, but Pope John scored the next four points to claim the match.
“That match really gave us a lot of confidence, because the girls realized that they have the potential to play with the best teams around if they can maintain their focus and consistency,” said Fineran.
Fineran cited the play of all four of his senior captains, Kristi Joti, Eni Bashllari, Melvina Nadeau, and Ingrid Serafim, for their strong play throughout the PJ match. Junior Taciane Santos also made a key contribution in the second set, which was won by Everett, as she took her team from a 17-15 deficit to a 21-15 advantage with six service points, of which four were aces.
When Everett took on Somerville the next day, the Lady Crimson Tide wasted no time in establishing their dominance over the visiting Highlanders, as Santos started the match as Everett’s server and the Tide ran off 10 unanswered points in the opening set.
Joti took her turn to rally the team in the second set, a 25-14 Everett win, while Tamires Machado played an outstanding game in the back row defense to spark a 25-22 win in the third set to ensure the shutout.
That win propelled Everett into the semifinal round against first place Cambridge which already had defeated the Crimson Tide twice this season, including a straight set win on Monday.
However, past history proved no barrier to the Everett juggernaut, as the Crimson Tide displayed the sort of consistency that Fineran has been preaching all season.
“We played with no fear and with poise,” said Fineran. “The team was as relaxed on the court as they have been all season.”
Nadeau was a key factor, earning seven service point in a 25-22 win in the first set, and then reeling off nine straight points, of which an amazing six were aces, in the third set that jetted Everett from a 10-8 advantage into an insurmountable 19-8 bulge.
However, Nadeau was not alone with a strong service game, as Amanda Souza accounted for six aces in the match and Bashllari served up four aces.
The fifth game of the week on Friday night against Medford once again saw Everett play well, but this time the Crimson Tide came up on the short end of a 3-1 decision. Souza sparked a 29-27 win in the second set with six service points and three kills, while senior Laura Michel made a key contribution with five service points and a block in the third set.
However, the final result indicated both the closeness of the match (25-22, 27-29, 25-17, 25-20) and underscored that unforced errors by Everett (11 missed serves in the first and fourth sets) proved fatal for the Crimson Tide.
“We didn’t miss any of our serves in the wins over Somerville and Cambridge,” noted Fineran, “and when you give away points against a good team like Medford, it really costs you because you cannot afford to do that.”
The final stats for the season showed Souza, a sophomore, with a team high 83 kills and 139 service points. Santos led with 30 blocks and was second in kills with 45. Taciane also attained the 100 mark on service points. Four other Crimson Tide performers, senior captains Nadeau, Serafim, Bashllari, and Joti, also accounted for more than 100 service points.
Mangan wins medal at GBL cross country meet
The Everett High boys and girls cross country teams wrapped up their seasons last week with a non-league meet against Lynn Classical on Thursday and at the GBL Meet at Fresh Pond on Saturday.
The girls narrowly were edged by their Classical counterparts, 28-29. Angele-Louis Jean placed second overall and first for Everett in a time of 27:04 over the 5K course. Jessica Mangan was right behind in third in 27:05; Melissa Michel ran a time of 28:55 to place fifth; Sarah Fischer placed eighth in 30:53, Erika Fuentes finished in 10th in 35:36; and Adra Ringdahl crossed the line in 11th spot in 36:05.
“I was disappointed that we were not able to win this meet, because we should have won,” said EHS head coach Shelanda Irish. “I didn’t think the girls utilized strong race tactics. When it comes to down to almost the end of the race, you can’t slow down and I think that happened to a few of our girls when it shouldn’t have. This was an important meet as it was an opportunity for a win and we came up short. Hopefully it is a lesson learned for our team.”
On the boys’ side, Ricky Perez placed first overall, edging the Lynn Classical runner by a mere second in a time of 21:06. Jonathan Mendez placed fourth overall in 22:24 and Nick D’Angelo finished in ninth in 25:45.
At the GBL Meet Saturday, sophomore Jessica Mangan was able to grab a medal by placing ninth overall in the girls’ 5K race with a time of 25:06 (the top 10 runners received medals). Teammate Melissa Michel came across the line in 26th spot in a time of 29:22.
In the boys’ race, the trio of Perez (2nd place in 20:42), Mendez (28th place in 23:20), and D’Angelo (32nd place in 24:35) represented the Crimson Tide.
“I was happy with how our entire team ran at the GBL Meet,” said Irish afterwards. “Everybody set personal records, shaving about three minutes off their time on this course (Fresh Pond) in Cambridge. This is the meet where everyone is looking to run their best times. This was the third time we ran at this course this season so the kids are pretty familiar with it which was a plus. Although we have a small team, I feel that each of our kids put that factor to the wayside and focused on what they needed to run individually and where they should place against their competitors.”