For all that goes into the regular season rivalry between the Bishop Fenwick and Melrose High girls volleyball teams, both sides put that aside at last weekend’s Bay State Summer Games.
The two-day event, held at Mass Premier Courts in Foxboro, featured regional teams from Massachusetts as squads representing West, Southeast, Northeast, Coastal and Central took part. The Northeast team was composed of 13 girls, five of which were from Fenwick and five from Melrose.
Captain-elects Kate Lipka, Jen Crovo and Tessa McLaughlin represented the Crusaders along with fellow teammates Melissa MacKenzie and Madison Camelo. For Melrose, Allie Nolan, Alyssa Abbott, Analisa DeBari, Jill McInnis and Cassidy Barbaro joined them on the Northeast team.
The two schools, which met in the North sectional finals in both 2010 and 2011, have been linked since head coach Adam DeBaggis took over the Fenwick program four years ago. He is also an assistant coach for the St. John’s Prep volleyball team (which plays in the spring), while Melrose coach Scott Celli is the head coach for SJP.
“The rivalry between Bishop Fenwick and Melrose is one of the best in high school volleyball. But both programs really respect each other, which makes it that much better,” said DeBaggis, who has coached the Northeast team four straight years.
“I really enjoy doing it; it’s a really good tournament with the best athletes from every region. The team started out a little cliquey, but after spending all day Saturday and Sunday (together) they actually got along great and worked really well as teammates. Volleyball is a sport that you need a lot of continuity, and the girls were able to develop that as the tournament went on.”
After winning the silver medal two of the last three years, the Northeast team finished fifth over the weekend. “It was a bit disappointing that we finished last,” said DeBaggis. “We went 0-4 in the first games, losing by two points each time. It felt like we were always down and couldn’t break through. We played well, but we just couldn’t finish off a lot of those games.”
The Northeast faced stiff competition as the Southeast, the Coastal and West boast some of the best volleyball teams in the state.
The numbers were down, however, as far as the Northeast team was concerned. Normally DeBaggis is used to 30 or more girls trying out for a spot on the team, but when he held the tryouts at Fenwick a few weeks back, the turnout was low.
“There wasn’t even a Metro team this year,” added DeBaggis. “I don’t know if the tournament itself is fizzling out, but it wasn’t promoted like it has been in the past. Normally I see girls from Andover, Chelmsford and Methuen trying out, but we didn’t have any representatives from there this year.”