SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

November 6, 2013

Fenwick makes most of opportunity, eliminates Weston

By Matt Jenkins
Staff Writer

---- — PEABODY — Battered or bruised, the Bishop Fenwick volleyball team always goes all-out for a win.

Despite playing through some injuries, there was no way the Crusaders were going to let last night’s opportunity pass them by.

Fenwick earned revenge from last year’s tournament exit by hitting Weston with a 3-0 victory in a Division 2 North quarterfinal game. Weston eliminated the Crusaders in the same round a year ago, but a more experienced, hungrier Fenwick team responded last night with 25-23, 25-15, 25-11 wins.

The Crusaders (20-2) get a familiar opponent in the semifinals as they’ll host Arlington Catholic (19-3) tomorrow night (7 p.m.).

Fenwick actually started slowly against Weston, battling point for point in the first game, but things started turning around in the second game and the Crusaders were playing their best volleyball by the time they put the Wildcats away.

“That’s something we’ve done all year. Last year, we were a little up and down because we were a little younger,” Fenwick coach Adam DeBaggis said. “This year, we’ve been so composed and finishing games when it’s time to finish. Some teams go into the third set like that, thinking this game’s already over. We put our foot on the gas pedal instead of slowing up.”

After the first game, Fenwick played with speed and intensity that Weston simply couldn’t match.

“We went in with the idea that the girls were going to not only play their own game, but also maintain a certain level of energy on the court. After a certain amount of points, because we have so many young people on the court, it’s kind of hard for them to completely commit the entire 25 points,” Weston (15-7) coach Fabian Arila said.

“They’re a very, very solid team. I commend them. They’ve got a great middle, they’re very scrappy, and they don’t let anything drop. I know my girls fell apart, but they have a great team and I hope they do well.”

There were several long volleys that Fenwick refused to give up on, especially an extended battle eventually won in the second game for a 14-10 advantage. Plays like that seemed to break Weston’s will. After winning that particular point, the Crusaders outscored the Wildcats 11-5 to put Weston on the brink of elimination.

Gianna Pizzano, Olivia Morsey and Jen Crovo never gave up on a ball and that effort seemed to be infectious for the Crusaders.

Pizzano and Morsey each finished with 21 digs.

“(Gianna) is playing hurt,” DeBaggis said. “One thing about our team, we’ll never be accused of not having heart. Jen Crovo will dive into the stands for one point; it’s crazy. It’s unbelievable how good they’ve played on defense. Some of the plays we made I’ve never seen in my life. I was proud of that.”

Weston came out quickly in the third game, opening a 4-1 lead. Fenwick showed its resiliency, however, and quickly overtook the Wildcats.

Senior Kate Lipka had three kills down the stretch and officially put Weston away with a block for the 25th point.

Lipka ended up with 14 kills to lead the Crusaders while Crovo added six and Pizzano chipped in with four. Tessa McLaughlin had 24 assists for Fenwick and Madison Camelo and Melissa MacKenzie played well.

“I’m not a heavily religious person, but this is a gift from God getting a chance for redemption (against Weston). We couldn’t ask for much more than that,” DeBaggis said. “We knew they were good, too. We don’t want to play teams that are bad and just get (to the North final). We want to earn it. We want to raise a trophy and feel good about it.”