PEABODY — Ever since losing its opening match of the season to North Reading, the Peabody High volleyball team has made it a mission not to lose again.
So far, the Tanners haven’t.
Peabody won its 11th match in a row yesterday, taking care of visiting Salem, 3-0, in a Northeastern Conference contest. The Witches gave them a battle, but the hosts prevailed 26-24, 25-21, 25-18.
Junior middle hitter Carolyn Scacchi, a 6-foot-1 presence at the net, had seven kills and four blocks for Peabody, while Olivia Summit chipped in with five kills and senior captain Mikayla Wallace had four kills.
“Salem is a very tough team and has improved so much,” said Tanners head coach Lisa Keene, her team playing in the NEC for the first time this fall. “They have an amazing libero (Hannah Mullarkey) who digs up everything. She’s just an incredible player.”
Salem coach Craig Massey, whose team fell to 7-8 overall with the loss, praised both Scacchi and his junior captain, Mullarkey (17 kills), for their play.
“We knew Peabody was going to be the team to beat in the conference, and they haven’t disappointed,” said Massey, whose team lost its first meeting to the Tanners, 3-1. “We played well, but we just couldn’t get over the top.
“(Mullarkey) was all over the court; she’s got great court sense. In my opinion, Scacchi and Mullarkey are the two best in the entire conference. Carolyn was a good player last year, but this season she has added power. That takes her game to a whole new level and makes her very dangerous.”
Scacchi is confident her team is clicking on all cylinders now.
“We were still jelling as a team when we played North Reading in the opener, but we’re well-prepared now,” Scacchi said. “I think we can beat them when we see them again because everybody has come together.
“I’m hitting more toward the ground this year. I think how I see the court is also better, and my back row passing has improved — although I don’t think Coach would ever say that.”
Salem senior captain and outside hitter Kylie These had five blocks, and sophomore defensive replacement Abbey Meadowcroft had a strong game, as well.
“These took a lot away, but Scacchi still got a lot of points,” Massey said. “She’s so strong. Meadowcroft has been doing a really nice job for us, too.
“We still need three wins in our last five (matches) to qualify for the state tournament. I’m confident we can do it, but there are no ‘gimmes’ on our schedule. It’ll take hard work, but that’s our goal. I believe we can do it.”
Keene said she’s not surprised at how well this team has done. The Tanners played in the Cape Ann League (where the teams are more established, and thus the competition was stronger) before moving to the NEC.
“There were a lot of new programs in the NEC, and because we had been around longer we needed the competition Cape Ann teams offered until those new (NEC) teams got stronger. They’ve all improved so much now,” he said.
“I knew we’d have a good year because we have a lot of great hitters. Scacchi is just amazing. She’s the entire package on the court: back row, front row or serving, which we didn’t have her do today because she has a sore arm. She does it all.”