Power and placement have fueled Cardinal Spellman to clinch its third Catholic Central League title under coach Ali Gerrish.
The firepower can be found in the middle behind seniors Meggie Gildea and Molly Anderson.
‘‘They’ve both done some damage," Gerrish said. "Between Molly and Meggie controlling the front row with their instinctiveness, hitting with power, and smart placement on the floor, having them up at the net at all times is a big weapon."
The 6-foot Gildea amassed 43 kills, 35 service points, 29 digs, 19 blocks, and 11 aces in a perfect 4-0 run this week for the Cardinals.
Gildea was last year’s team MVP and then the Cardinals' only junior. Her outstanding play has continued with her intensity continually firing up her teammates, Gerrish said.
And then on top of that, Anderson totaled 56 kills, 37 services points, 13 blocks, and eight aces for the week.
"The power and placement they use up front serve as different weapons and that’s something we talked about – being smart and reading our opponents," Gerrish said.
This past week wasn’t out of character for the two captains, and luckily for Gerrish the rest of her team does not fall short either.
Senior setter Nicole DiRenzo had 104 assists this week, totaling 74 alone in two games.
"Nicole is very receptive and has a great demeanor," Gerrish said. "She doesn’t get too shaken up and has a consistent personality on and off the court.
"[Our hitters] can communicate and rely on her."
Against Falmouth, the Cardinals delivered a resilient defensive game after losing two sets, the first time this season, but came back to win 3-2 (25-15, 25-27, 25-20, 18-25, 15-12) after senior libero Jess Sims landed 10 consecutive service aces.
In that game, DiRenzo had 34 assists while Sims, Gildea, and senior outside hitter Alex Pantano combined for 47 digs.
"Part of our strength is cohesiveness and working really hard to be on the same page at all times," Gerrish said. "This past week, we really reached our peak as a unit."
Pantano tallied 29 digs and 16 kills this week while senior outside hitter Jess Ezepik had 35 digs. Sophomore outside hitter Emily DeBarros pitched in 19 kills.
In her four years of coaching, Gerrish said these are the biggest numbers she has seen from any team she has coached.
Games of the week
No. 20 Westboro at No. 5 Melrose, Mon., 5:30 p.m. — Melrose remains undefeated with a 16-game streak as setter Brooke Bell recorded her 1000th career assist last week.
Newton South at No. 10 Lincoln-Sudbury, Tue., 4 p.m. — Lincoln-Sudbury hopes to move past Dual County rival Newton South the second time around after taking a 3-1 victory earlier this season.
No. 16 North Quincy at Quincy, Wed., 4 p.m. — North Quincy powered past Patriot League rival Quincy in last fall’s Central/East sectional semifinals, 3-2, and again earlier this season, 3-1.
No. 4 Medfield at No. 6 Frontier, Wed., 7 p.m. — Medfield was bumped down a spot in the rankings after a loss to unranked Medway, 3-1. Frontier could take this home match.
No. 8 Brookline at No. 10 Lincoln-Sudbury, Fri., 4:30 p.m. — Lincoln-Sudbury’s ultimate test will be against Bay State leader Brookline, which handed the Warriors their only loss of the season, 3-1.
Players of the week
Rachel Pierre, Madison Park — The senior tallied 21 service points and four aces against Brighton, 3-0.
Tara Lyons, Bourne — The senior tri-captain had 13 kills, 12 service points, 10 digs and a block against Wareham.
Kat Mazzone, North Reading — The senior outside hitter had 30 digs to pace the Hornets over Bishop Fenwick, 3-2.
Meggie Gildea, Cardinal Spellman — The senior captain had 43 kills, 35 service points, 29 digs, 19 blocks and 11 aces in a perfect 4-0 week for the Cardinals.
Kristina Ofeodu, St. Clement — The junior middle hitter locked in 23 service points, 15 kills, 14 digs and eight aces.
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