By Gianna Addario Staff Writer
The Salem News
---- — One of the main goals Lisa Keene had for her Peabody volleyball team at the beginning of the season, was to win the Northeastern Conference. With an undefeated recorded in the NEC (14-0), the Tanners accomplished what they set out to do and even earned the No. 2 seed in the Division 1 state tournament.
“It was so thrilling for the girls,” said Keene, whose team played its first season in the NEC. “Coming into the new division, we knew it would be a better move over time.
“Early on the season we weren’t playing a great defensive game. Hitting wise, this is one of the best teams I’ve ever coached. As the season progressed the girls started to understand their positions better and the defense got better.”
Peabody has a bye in the first round and will host the winner of the Central Catholic/Lynn Classical on Monday at 7 p.m. The Tanners are familiar with both teams as Classical plays in the NEC and CC defeated them in the quarterfinals last year, 3-0.
“Both teams are very strong,” added Keene. “Any time you play a Merrimack Valley Conference team, it’s going to be a battle. Classical has improved since the first time we played them earlier this season, but either way we should be ready.”
Junior middle hitter Carolyn Scacchi has been the Tanners leading player throughout the season. In a win over North Reading on Wednesday night, Scacchi recorded 20 kills and four blocks. She’s strong as a back row defender and also a great server.
Junior Olivia Summitt and senior Michaela Wallace have also been phenomenal up front and have really shined this year, according to Keene.
Beverly (14-2) also earned home court advantage in the quarterfinal round. The Panthers are seeded No.3 and host the North Andover/Chelmsford winner on Monday at 7 p.m.
Behind seniors Christine Green, Karly Marrs and Mariah Dodd, Beverly has a lot of experience and added depth with Hayley Sinik and Berina Malicbegovic.
If both Beverly and Peabody advance, they could play each other in the semifinals.
In Division 2, Bishop Fenwick drew the No. 3 seed and will host 14th seeded Swampscott on Saturday afternoon in the first round. The Crusaders (16-4) were hoping they would draw that seed and are working hard to get back to the North finals.
“I don’t know much about Swampscott, but they do have a good hitter,” said Fenwick coach Adam DeBaggis. “The girls are really excited to have a home game in the first round. It’s definetely a mental game they’ll be playing at higher level with the home crowd.”
Junior Kate Lipka was named co-MVP of the Catholic Central League. Jen Crovo, Gianna Pizzano and Tess McLaughlin made the CCL all-star team and the group juniors have made a huge impact for the Crusaders this season.
“It’s a big honor for Kate as junior,” DeBaggis said. “She’s just awesome — not only talented, but a hard worker. With eight juniors and senior Jess Ywuc, we have a ton of leadership.”
If the Crusaders can get past Swampscott (4-12), they’ll play the winner of the Weston/North Reading matchup. DeBaggis calls North Reading the “sleeper” team on that side of the bracket, but knows very little about Weston.
Arlington Catholic is another team on a Fenwick’s side of the bracket that poses an interesting matchup. Both CCL teams, AC and Fenwick split a regular season series.
Providing the Crusaders make it to the North final again, they’ll most likely play against top seeded Melrose. For the past two consecutive seasons, Melrose has sent Fenwick packing.
In Div. 3 North Shore Tech/Essex Aggie earned the No. 8 seed. The Bulldogs (12-6) host ninth seeded Mystic Valley on Saturday at 3.
Captains Grace McNally, Kiley Morgan and Zoe Barnes give the Bulldogs leadership and experience, while newcomer Rihannon Lane add some depth to the senior heavy roster.