After a brief Westwood run, a Mustang timeout allows Coach Jenny Murphy to instructs her team in the first of two wins against Norwood.
By James Kinneen
Hometown Weekly Reporter
The Westwood Wolverines volleyball team moved to 3-3 on the year this week, thanks to a pair of victories over the Norwood Mustangs. After a difficult start to the season that saw them lose three straight, the Wolverines turned things around to take home a Senior Night win on Thursday night, where their players played all three sets together.
With high school volleyball games being played against the same opponent on Tuesdays and Thursdays, there isn’t much time for teams to make adjustments to either their lineups or game plans. That’s why it was so remarkable to see Westwood recover from a four-set loss against Medfield, securing straight sets victory just two days later, a few weeks ago. Coach Jenny Murphy credits a March twelfth practice with turning the season around.
“We had a tough opening week, but things really started to set in at our practice on 3/12, which proved to turn everything around for us during our series with Medfield,” she explained. “On Tuesday against Norwood, we held strong in our serves and our serve-receive. We set certain goals for ourselves, and each individual really delivered and overall, we made few unforced errors. Laurance Stokes stood out in this game for her consistent attacks and no-quit attitude.”
Just two days later it was Senior Night, which presented a unique situation for Westwood. While COVID restrictions mean every team has lost their home crowd - save for the occasional parent allowed in the gymnasium - that doesn’t have the same impact for most teams that it does for Westwood volleyball. While before COVID-19, most teams often had scattered fans and the JV squad cheering them on, in years past, the Wolverines have had packed, raucous (and often themed-costume-wearing) crowds that have shaken opponents, unused to that level of hostility.
“Last year's games when we had packed bleachers was AMAZING,” Murphy noted, “but was not something that we had come to get used to, or take for granted. We have always worked to create our own energy and this season is no different. We miss having 'The Den' there rooting for us, but we're so grateful that we're able to have even limited fans and continue to create our own energy on the court.”
Still, fans or no fans, the Wolverines were not going to lose on their Senior Night, especially when all their seniors were on the court together for the duration of the game.
“In our Thursday night game vs. Norwood, it was Senior Night and our senior players made a commitment to each other to ride it out together as long as possible - and in the end, were able to play the entire three sets together. As far as stats go, they played a very clean game with few unforced errors and a spectacular night behind the service line. They showed determination and grit as a team and pulled it out together. Captain Katy Dumais is always a leader and a standout, and last week's series was no different. She is the most consistent and dependable teammate and really takes it upon herself to help others reach their personal game goals. Captain Hermela Haile stood out in Tuesday's game as our kill leader and captain Alexa Kritzer stood out in Thursday's Senior Night game as the kill and service leader.”
While senior night may not have been what it was last year, Murphy explained that in a year with so much uncertainty about whether there’d be a season at all, the team is just happy to practice and play together.
“We have such a strong team and team dynamic this season. We've had to adjust our season goals but overall are just so happy to be together and be able to play. We're grateful every day to be practicing together and we don't take any matchup for granted. Within our abridged season, we don't have any 'easy' matchups and really look forward to each game we're given the chance to play.”