By Matt Williams
---- — The Peabody High volleyball team has won 37 straight regular season matches, and finished this year a perfect 20-0 a top the Northeastern Conference.
Next week, the Tanners would like nothing more than to start a new streak of one.
The top seed in the Division 1 North bracket released yesterday, Peabody is looking to win its first postseason match since 2009. The Tanners went 17-1 a year ago before losing to Central Catholic in the tourney.
They’re slated to begin this year’s playoff against the winner of tomorrow’s Salem/Methuen contest on Monday at home.
The 20-0 mark is the best regular season ever for Peabody, which began the 2004 season 18-0 before falling to Andover in the Division 1 North semifinals. Coach Lisa Keen’s Tanners are led by Carolyn Scacchi, the program’s all-time leader in kills, as well as hitter Olivia Summitt and captains Jillian Defelice and Katie Gallo, and sophomore setter Sara Hosman.
Peabody is not the only team in the Tanner City to draw a No. 1 seed. Bishop Fenwick is the top-seed in the Division 2 North bracket after an 18-2 season.
The senior-laden Crusaders have been eyeing this season for a few years and so far they’ve met their own lofty expectations. Fenwick was upset by Weston in the quarterfinals last year, and fell to Melrose in the North final in 2011.
Captains Gianna Pizzano, Kate Lipka, Jen Crovo and Tessa McLaughlin lead coach Adam DeBaggis’ Crusaders, a club that played a difficult schedule this year to prepare for the postseason. Fenwick is strong on both offense and defense, and opens the playoffs on Sunday at home against the winner of a Belmont/Dracut preliminary round game.
Salem, led by captain Hannah Mullarkey, qualified in Division 1 North with a 13-7 regular season mark. The Witches earned the No. 8 seed and the right to host No. 9 Methuen (also 13-7) on Saturday at 4 p.m.
On the other side of the Division 1 North bracket, Beverly and Masconomet will play each other in an all-North Shore contest Saturday at 7 p.m. The Panthers, who finished second behind Peabody in the NEC, went 14-6 in the regular season to earn their second straight postseason trip and the No. 7 seed.
The Chieftains went 12-8 and are seeded No. 10 and return to the playoffs after a one-year absence.
Around the growing NEC for volleyball, Lynn English (seeded 14th, at Andover) and Lynn Classical (seeded 13th, at O’Bryant) also qualified.
Coach Chip Emery’s Swampscott squad also qualified in Division 2 North, turning in a record of 11-8 to earn the No. 12 seed. The Big Blue travel to Arlington Catholic for a first round game Sunday at 6:30 p.m.