Holliston Volleyball Makes Strides this Season

Christopher Tremblay, Staff Sports Writer
Holliston volleyball took a beating last year, but with all the players opting to participate in club play, the team has improved so much they’ve already beat last year’s scores.
Issue Date: 
November, 2018
Article Body: 

Last fall, under first year varsity head coach Anneliese Harrison, Holliston found it rough going on the volleyball court. The Panthers were only able to secure five wins while losing 12 other contests. Now in her second year, Harrison seems to have coaching down, and her girls are showing that on the court. Through the early part of the season the Panthers are enjoying their best start in some time, posting a 6-2 record.
“Last year was not a great season,” the Holliston Coach said. “Not only was it my first year as head coach, our gym was being redone, so we had to share space with the middle school at their gym, we had to switch a few of our opening home games to road games – it was definitely a rebuilding year.”
In addition to having already won more games than all of last year through the first half of the season, Holliston has shown they are not a team to be taken lightly. The Panthers have already defeated Medfield and Westwood 3-0 in the early goings. The last time Holliston defeated Westwood was in 2010, Harrison’s senior year, which was also the last time the Panthers graced the Division 2 Central Tournament. As for the Medfield victory could possibly be the first. Athletic Director Matt Baker was only able to find records back as far as 2007, but said it most likely went back further than that.
One of the big reasons the Holliston volleyball team has been winning more than losing this fall is that the girls on the team all decided to play club ball so that they were ready attitude and skill wise when the season opened.
Leading the Panthers onto the court are the senior captains in libero Anna Koeva, right-side hitter Alison Edwards and the team’s ultimate power hitter Emily Howland.
Not only has the Coach seen some much-improved play and consistency on the court, the girls are scoring more and playing very smart volleyball, even when out of position.
While the seniors are pushing the squad to perfection, two underclassmen are making a big statement for the Panthers; freshman outside hitter Collette Salem and sophomore Sophia LiRicco, who plays the back row.
“Collette is an all-round player that can play the front as well as the back. She has it all skill-wise and is probably the most powerful hitter and server on the team as well as a great passer,” Harrison said. “Sophia, will most likely become our libero next season after Anna graduates. She is always on the floor and brings a positive attitude, which is huge.”
One athlete who has opened the coach’s eyes during the first half has been junior middle hitter Katie Randlett. According to the Coach, the junior has improved drastically since last season and has become very smart on the court; she knows how to pick her spots and has been doing it on a consistent basis.
Coming into the season, Harrison had two goals: one to advance into the tournament for the first time in over a decade and two to have the girls ready mentally to play good volleyball. With six wins already in their possession, the Panther are only a handful of wins away from grabbing a tournament spot and the way they’ve been playing so far they have emerged mentally tough.
“With all the issues surrounding us, last year didn’t get off to a good start, and we had a hole to climb out of, and, when we started to do just that, we couldn’t maintain it,” the coach said. “We need to stay mentally tough and be able to finish.”
Unless disaster hits, it looks optimistic that the Panthers should be making their way into the Division 2 Central Volleyball Tournament later this fall. Harrison not only expects her girls to come ready to play night after night, but she is expecting them to go deep into the tournament.