EHS Girls Volleyball Concludes Season With State Tourney Contest
The Everett’s High girls’ volleyball team wrapped up its 2023 season with an appearance in the Division 1 state tournament last Wednesday evening at Westford (Academy) High School.
Although the Lady Crimson Tide, who entered the tourney as the 36th seed in Division 1 with a regular-season record of 10-8, came out on the short end of a 3-1 decision to Westford (which was the 29th seed with a record of 5-13), the loss did not diminish the successes this season of coach Mike Fineran’s squad, who compiled the program’s best record since the 2017 team, which also won 10 games and qualified for the tourney.
“It’s a bittersweet loss,” said Fineran. “I am so proud of the way we fought all year. The seniors remember what it was like to go winless. They’ve come so far in just a short time. We are disappointed we couldn’t go further, but we played our hearts out, and that’s all I can ask.”
Everett played on the road, despite having the better record, because Westford Academy played a stronger schedule, with six of the Lady Ghosts’ opponents ranked in the top 25 for Division 1. “We knew they would be strong, despite their record, but I felt that we could hang with them, and for most of the match we did,” said Fineran.
The Lady Crimson Tide’s nerves were on display early, as they could not handle the first three serves of the match from Westford, but a kill from senior captain Nicole Brandao got the Tide back on track, and an ace from junior Kayleigh McMahon brought Everett within one, 6-5.
Aces from juniors Victoria Rodrigues and Emilly Nogueira kept it even midway through the set, but the Lady Ghosts went on another run to build a 24-18 lead. Brandao helped Everett claw back to 24-21, but the EHS crew could not pull any closer. Brandao had three kills in the set and Rodrigues added a kill, as did seniors Kaesta Sandy and Darryn Desrameaux.
Having proven that they could hang with Westford after the hard-fought first set, the Lady Crimson Tide stormed out to a 5-1 lead in the next set, thanks to aces from senior co-captain Yasmine Laabadla and junior libero Sonia Flores.
Brandao had three more kills and a dig, while Sandy had two kills and neutralized the opponent’s attack with three blocks. Sophomore Nicole Damaceno added two kills.
After Rodrigues delivered three serves to extend the lead for Everett to 22-14, Brandao aced the final point to tie the match at 1-1.
However, in the third set Everett dug an early hole with unforced errors on serve-receive, though Sandy recorded seven kills and a block to bring all the way Everett back. Everett tied the game at 23-23 on a kill from sophomore Amanda Verteiro, but a missed serve ended the momentum, and Everett lost the pivotal set, 25-23, putting the Tide down, 2-1.
“That was a turning point, certainly,” noted Fineran. “If we had gone up 2-1, it could have been a much different match, but we seemed to lose our focus at that point and the fourth set went by in a blur. We were down a couple, then down by fve, then all of a sudden it was 20-10 and we couldn’t recover.
“But the loss doesn’t really matter,” the veteran EHS mentor continued. “What really matters to me is that we played some of our best volleyball against a strong opponent in the most important match of the year.”
Brandao and Sandy each finished with 10 kills, and Sandy had six blocks, while Brandao was 19-for-19 serving. Laabadla was 7-for-7 on serves, and Rodrigues was 15-for-15. Flores successfully delivered 11-of-12 serves and played stellar defense all night. Sophomores Damaceno and Verteiro were a combined 4-for-4 serving with three kills, and they both played error-free.
“Our top three hitters are seniors, but the experience that we all gained being here should serve us well in the future,” said Fineran. “The leadership from all of the seniors will be hard to replace. This is a special group. But I think we can build on our success and shoot for even better things next year.”