SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

October 11, 2012

Jean DePlacido column: Team chemistry drives Beverly volleyball

Jean DePlacido
The Salem News

---- — One of the big reasons why the Beverly volleyball team is so successful this season is team chemistry. The 8-2 Panthers really enjoy playing together. The team suffered a disappointing loss to Peabody earlier this week in a key match. A win would have put them in a tie for first place Now the Panthers will concentrate on winning the next six games against teams they have already beaten once and try to nail down second place.

“The loss to Peabody was upsetting because we really felt we could have played better,” said coach Pam Padovani. “Now we are re-establishing our goals. We learn something with every match which is exciting. The character of our team will emerge as we play the next few games, build our confidence back up, and move forward.

“We’ve beaten everyone left on our schedule so we will need focus, consistency, and effort to do it again. Consistency is the key along with dedication to the sport. We have players with many strengths in different areas of the game.”

Padovani believes a key element this year is the shared desire to do well. She said in volleyball is it often difficult for everyone to get playing time at the varsity level, and each year fewer and fewer girls are kept on the varsity so competition for every starting position is keen.

“There is real competition, but I feel that all my girls want success and understand their role for team success,” said Padovani. “It is important that those on the bench understand that the ones on the court could not be doing what they are without them. I have been honest with my girls, and I believe they all know what they have to do to move into a starting or playing position. This group enjoys each others company, another aspect of team play that is very important. I feel so privileged to be working with these girls; we all like each other.”

Padovani hopes to see a feeder program started in Beverly with a freshman level program next year. She’d also love to see volleyball offered at the YMCA, recreation department, or middle school so that young girls would learn the basic skills.

“It’s hard to learn a sport as a freshman and strive to be one of the varsity players by junior year,” she said. “It takes dedication and commitment to stick with it. I am proud that the girls have, and they have all improved.”

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Monica Adler is the Division 1 New England Cross Country champion. The Boston University junior from Manchester (former Beverly High star) was almost six seconds faster than her nearest competitor on the 5K course at Stanley Park in Westfield last Sunday. Adler clocked a 17:00.79 to become the second straight NE champ from BU.

“It’s very exciting to repeat after Katie Mathews won last year,” said Adler. “It was a nice cool day for running, and that was my best time on a 5K course. My goal is to go to the NCAA’s. The qualifying meet is on November 9th at regionals in Connecticut, and I feel I’m building momentum now that we’re in the second half of the season.

“This was our biggest meet to date, but that regional is ever more important. It’s a 6K course which is a little longer, and you have to place high enough to go. They look at places instead of times because cross country depends so much on weather. If it’s a rainy day and muddy course the times are going to be slower so everything is determined by place which is a switch from track where it’s time.”

Adler has been fortunate not to have any serious injuries since high school. She is looking forward to taking a short break around Thanksgiving and then going right into winter track.

“That’s my favorite season because you don’t have to worry about the weather,” she said. “I think I’ll move back down to the mile this year, and hopefully all that hard work from the cross country season will pay off.”

Dartmouth rested some of its top runners including Abbey D’Agostino, who beat out 359 runners at the Paul Short Invitational, winning by 24 seconds (19:58) and was named Big Green Female Athlete of the Week.

Sophomore Alison Lanois, a former Hamilton-Wenham star, led the Big Green to a third place finish overall at the NE championship. Lanois was 22nd overall in 17:53 and second fastest for her team.

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In the latest Mile Split Massachusetts Coaches Poll for cross country the Peabody girls were ranked No. 1 in the state, and HW was close behind in 4th place. For the boys, St. John’s Prep was 11th and Masconomet came in at 23rd.

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Jean DePlacido is a part-time writer and columnist for The Salem News. Contact her at jmdeplacido@aol.com.