Volleyball Wins Round One Tournament Match 3-1

The Whaler volleyball team had to navigate its way through a wave of emotions Saturday afternoon in their round one matchup of the Div. 4 state tournament against the Monument Mountain Spartans. The Whalers feature a team that has very little state tournament experience but went into the game as the higher seed (#16 against #17).

The Whalers were able to come up with a 3-1 win but head coach Andrew Viselli said his players dealt with nerves to begin the match.

“For the first half of set one they were all saying they were really jittery,” Viselli said. “I have two freshmen out there and a sophomore. They get emotional. When things are going well they are sky high but when they aren’t going well they are down in the dumps.”

Sophomore outside hitter Chloe Marrero started out strong with a pair of kills in set one to help Nantucket take a quick 4-1 lead, but the Spartans battled back and made Nantucket earn every point. It was 13-12 Nantucket at one point, but the Whalers pulled away later in the set to make it 19-15 despite sloppy play. They eventually won the set 25-22.

“I’ll be honest with you I was really surprised we won the first set just because of the errors we missed the last three or four serves and I am counting the one Kacey (Riseborough) got an ace on to win the match because that ball was out. You can’t win if you can’t step up in those pressure situations.”

The second set went to the Spartans. After the Whalers kept it close for the first half of the set, the Spartans began to create some separation on the scoreboard and took a 22-16 lead over the Whalers that they rode to a 25-22 set win to tie the match 1-1.

The third set was all Nantucket. The Whalers won 20 of  29 points to take a 20-9 lead and won the set 25-14. Riseborough and Marrero played their best in this set. They finished the match with 25 kills and 15 kills respectively.

“The third set was definitely our best set,” Viselli said. “But look at the scoresheet and you see we put 67 points on the board through unforced errors and mistakes. As you move forward in the tournament and play a top seed, you can’t do that and expect to win.”

The Whalers fell into a 9-12 hole to begin the fourth set but rode Marrero and Riseborough’s strong play to a 26-24 victory. Setter Bianca Santos had a strong day with 34 assists.

The Whalers played in front of a large crowd of students, parents, and casual volleyball fans which Viselli said likely contributed to the nerves at first. He said as the game progressed they used the crowd to their advantage.

“These kids are awesome and they support each other,” Viselli said. “I know by walking down the hall in school I just hear them going up to the girls saying ‘are you ready, are you ready.’ They just really enjoy each other and it is awesome. This is a fun sport to watch but it is also them coming out to support us because we are Whalers and they are Whalers. That is what it comes down to and it is awesome.”

The Whalers will be traveling to take on the #1 seeded Ipswich Tigers on Tuesday, November 9, at 4pm. The Tigers are 18-1 this season. The Whalers are 13-6.

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