Lynnfield girls ruling the net
They wear sparkly blue headbands and matching teal shoelaces on their Mizuno sneakers. But don’t let that distract you. The Lynnfield High girls’ volleyball team comes to play. And to win.
Home or away, the Pioneers play a polished game and approach each one with a victory in mind. On Wednesday night, Lynnfield clinched a berth in the Division 3 North tournament with a 3-0 win at Beverly, extending their unbeaten streak to 10 games.
“It’s really been a team effort,’’ said coach Michelle Perrone, a Somerville native. “Our biggest philosophy this year is ‘every day a little bit better.’ ’’
The current seniors were freshmen in 2008, when Perrone was hired to replace Bob Cleary. Those seniors account for six of the eight core players that Lynnfield rotates into the game.
“We’ve never known any other coach,’’ said middle hitter Julia Goldstein, a senior captain. “We’ve been playing together since freshman year.’’
Under Perrone’s guidance, each year they have gone deeper into the post-season.
In her first season, Lynnfield finished below .500. The next year, she guided the team to the North final before falling to Notre Dame Academy. Last fall, the Pioneers lost to Case in the state semifinals, 3-1.
“They know what it takes to advance in the state tournament and are very determined to get there again,’’ said Perrone, who played volleyball at St. Clement’s and then St. Joseph’s of Maine in Standish.
Lynnfield, the only Division 3 team in the Cape Ann, has proven that it can compete with any program.
Liz Vo, a senior middle hitter, credits the work of Perrone for the continued success. “We added a lot more new drills this year,’’ said Vo. “She is thinking outside the box. Like jump-roping and ladders for conditioning; not just suicides.’’
“We want to go the distance and not run out of speed,’’ said Perrone, who preaches the importance of a well-conditioned team. “Consistent motion all the time, you should be ready for anything.’’
“It has made us faster,’’ said Goldstein. “And if you’re faster, you can get to every ball. You can get a tip and hit it higher.’’
Ms. Perrone, as her players call her, says that her team’s greatest strength is its dedication.
“As a coach, I am very lucky,’’ she said. “They love the sport. The majority of them play all year round.’’
Kelsey LeBlanc, a senior outside hitter who plays for the Andover Pumas along with Goldstein, said the offseason work “helps our court awareness. When we play over the summer then we’re not rusty going into preseason.’’
Because the majority of the players are dedicated to the game full time, Lynnfield no longer needs to depend solely on one or two players.
“That was us in the past, but two or three great players isn’t enough,’’ said Vo, who also plays club volleyball.
“There isn’t one standout player,’’ said LeBlanc. “If there were, we wouldn’t be as successful as we are.’’
Every player contributes a different element, and that combination of skills makes the Pioneers so dynamic.
“Julia is a smart player. She knows when to push the ball instead of slamming it,’’ said Vo, of Goldstein.
“Liz gets so high on blocking and hitting,’’ added LeBlanc about Vo. “The other team doesn’t know what to do.’’
Goldstein chimed in, “Kelsey is a really good server. She has five or six aces every game.’’
Rounding out the rotation are setters Abby Norwood and Amanda McQueen, outside hitters Caroline Shannon and Meghan Deighan, and libero Erika Burgess.
“Each girl is playing their position well and knowing where they need to be,’’ said Perrone.
The girls believe that their trust in each other is also a factor in their achievement so far.
“In the summer we all hang out a lot,’’ said Vo. “We take road trips to the beach and we have dance parties a lot. We’re such a close team.’’
Perrone said there is no “girl drama. They support one another, on and off the court.’’
Although Lynnfield started 10-0, they are not taking anything for granted.
There are challenges ahead with Cape Ann foes Masconomet and North Andover, as well as Lexington, a strong non-league opponent.
“We have to keep our positivity and teamwork up every single game,’’ said Vo. “With good coaching, chemistry, and skills, there is nothing stopping us.’’
“When we play like we can play, we can do anything and beat anyone,’’ said Goldstein.
Cat Calsolaro can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.