BEVERLY — Veronica Schaefer knows how the Beverly High volleyball team is feeling — and, perhaps more importantly, where they’re headed in the future.
North Andover High, the team that Schaefer coaches, was once in a situation similar to that of the Panthers: a young, still growing program whose best years are ahead of them.
So Schaefer, whose team bested the hosts, 3-0, in the Division 2 North quarterfinals last night, was more than happy to share a bit of wisdom with Beverly’s head coach, Pam Padovani, after the Knights prevailed 25-10, 25-9, 25-19.
“I told Pam I remember when she started, and that when I started it took me six years just to make it into the state tournament. We had some 0-20 seasons,” said Schaefer, who has been at the Knights’ helm for all 11 years of the program’s history. “I told Pam that her team should keep their heads up and be proud. They’re on the right path.”
Padovani, whose third-seeded Panthers saw their season end at 14-3 overall, clearly took those words to heart.
“She’s an inspiration to me,” Padovani said of Schaefer. “She said it’s taken them a long time to get to this point, and it’s only the second time they’ve ever gone this far (to the North semifinals).
“I watched them play and knew that they were a tough, tough team. We had a lot to prepare for. By the third game, I thought we adjusted and were playing much better ... but overall, it’s a learning process.”
Beverly’s three senior starters — outside hitter Mariah Dodd, middle hitter Katie Ball and setter Karlie Marrs — all did what they could to keep the home team in the match. They helped get the Panthers off to a fast 5-0 start in the second game, then were instrumental as the team battled back in Game 3, cutting North Andover’s lead to 12-11, then 23-19 before eventually falling.