When he took over as head coach of the Notre Dame (Hingham) volleyball team seven years ago, Josh Shepherd wanted to emulate his program after that of Medfield and Barnstable. The coaches at those schools, Jack Hastings and Tom Turco, were mentors to Shepherd and had taken him under their wings.
“I viewed them as two of the best teams in the state,” Shepherd said.
Shepherd put Medfield and Barnstable on his schedules, and for five years, the Cougars were dealt loss after loss by the stiff competition. Last year, they squeezed out a win at Medfield, which represented the program’s “largest victory at the time.”
On Thursday, No. 6 Notre Dame (5-1) took another step forward when it hosted and beat the No. 3 Warriors (7-1), 3-1, by scores of 25-18, 25-20, 17-25, and 25-15.
“It gives us confidence that we belong in the conversation,” Shepherd said.
Senior Julia Flynn, who is committed to play next year at Bryant, led the Cougars with 19 kills, four aces, and 10 digs. Shepherd said that Flynn’s performance was even more impressive because Medfield’s scrappy defense, calling the game an “unbelievable defensive battle.”
“(Flynn) is proving through her play that she is one of the premier players in the state,” Shepherd said. “She’s very focused on performing at a high level.”
Senior middle hitter Casey Thorbahn had eight kills and three blocks while junior outside hitter Julia Marshall added six kills, six digs, and three aces.
A win against Barnstable has proved to be more elusive, though Notre Dame took the Red Raiders to five games last Tuesday before losing.
And the road ahead won’t get any easier, as the Cougars will travel to Medfield a week from Thursday for a rematch.
But for now, the win against the Warriors signifies another step in the right direction as Shepherd has his team at a level where it can beat the teams it looked up to years ago.
“I hope we can use this (going forward),” Shepherd said. “We gotta be doing something right to be successful against (Medfield).”
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