While Medfield held tough for the early parts of most sets, they couldn’t stop Ashland’s runs in two straight set losses.
By James Kinneen
Hometown Weekly Reporter
Now 4-5 after a pair of losses to the 9-1 Ashland Clockers, while many volleyball teams around the state have finished their seasons already, the Medfield Warriors have two more games left. And although the Ashland matchups likely represented Medfield’s biggest on-the-court challenge, from an emotional standpoint, the next couple of games will likely be Medfield’s toughest.
Typical volleyball seasons are usually around 20-22 games, but for the Fall II season, the schedule was essentially cut in half, with teams adding games once it became clear the weeks that had been put aside in case games needed to be pushed back due to COVID outbreaks weren’t going to be necessary. For Medfield, who are in the “big” side of the Tri-Valley League, that meant games against “small” side teams Medway and Norton were added to their schedule, which will represent their senior night and season-ending games, respectively.
While it might not be hard to get motivated for senior night or the last game of the season, with no playoff seeding to worry about, the question arises as to how difficult it is to get players motivated once the novelty of the beginning of the season wears off. But Coach Cynthia Souza said for her team, it hasn’t been very difficult - especially for the Ashland games - because they respected their opponents so much. But while motivation may not have been an issue against Ashland, unfortunately for the Warriors, injuries were.
“This year the season’s been so short, and I think the kids and the coaches are so grateful that we’re even playing,” she explained. “At least with my kids, I’m telling them, ‘this is going to be over in the blink of an eye, so you’d better enjoy every minute of it’, especially for the seniors. They know how fast their four years of high school have flown by. So, I don’t think it’s hard to keep them motivated, especially on the big side. We were really looking forward to the Ashland game. We went there last Tuesday and we started out really competitively, but then our passing game just kind of fell off, so we didn’t have as strong a night as we anticipated having. Then the very next day, Wednesday, two of my starters went down with injuries before Ashland came to play us on Thursday, so we were disappointed. We knew we wouldn’t be as strong without them, but Ashland came to play us, and it was a very competitive match. We were kind of going back and forth until they managed to edge us out on the wins. Ashland has ten seniors on their roster this year, so they’re a very strong team. We were just happy to compete well.”
Still, although they lost both matches in straight sets, Coach Souza applauded her players' effort, especially when those injuries forced players to play out of position in the second matchup.
"'Captain Molly,' Molly Wagenseller, is all around just an excellent player and a good team leader. She’s the setter, who is like the quarterback - she has to run the offense of the team, and so Molly is always a strong contributor. Kate Anderson is also a captain, and she has been leading the team with kills this year. And then on Thursday night when they came to us, we had to move some players into different positions because the two starters were injured, and so it was a real team effort. Everyone had to step up and give that little bit of an extra push to try and win.”
With senior night coming up, Coach Souza said that while they won’t be able to have the typical crowds they normally would, Medfield still plans to make it a special night, both for her seniors and for Medway’s.
“This year, I think the big difference is there’s not going to be a big, huge crowd. In the beginning, they only allowed senior parents to come, but now they’ve been allowing two adults per player to come to the game. Obviously, the crowd is much smaller. We sort of honor the seniors on their team, too; we give them flowers and then we give our girls flowers and obviously we decorate the gym. But then we wait until the visiting team leaves at the end of the game and we do a celebration with the girls where we will have cake and we will watch a video, and we do things like that, and I give the seniors a senior gift, and the girls write poems. The only thing we might not be able to do this year is have the video, I don’t know why, but other than that, there won’t be that big type of crowd.”
Last year, the Warriors lost in the second round of the playoffs, so they didn’t know what game was their last. This year, win lose or draw, the end of the season will come on Thursday. So, while that could either soften the blow for the seniors or give them more time to reflect on it and make the final game against Norton on Thursday night more emotional, no matter what happens, Coach Souza is proud of her seniors.
“I call them my champions. The girls put in a lot of work and are really dedicated. They’re all smart, fantastic girls and I’m very proud of all of them.”