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Wolverines please packed bleachers of fans

***IMG_ 4687 - Nicole Laughter and Kate Anderson meet at the net in front of a packed house at WHS. Photos by James Kinneen
IMG_ 4679 - Bella Hamdan sends the ball straight back to the Medfield side. Photos by James Kinneen
IMG_ 4741 - Amanda McKim tries to time her block. Photos by James Kinneen

By James Kinneen
Hometown Weekly Reporter

College basketball has Cameron Indoor Stadium, college football has LSU’s famed “Death Valley,” and Massachusetts girls high school volleyball apparently has the Westwood gymnasium. A raucous crowd spurred the Westwood Wolverines to a five-set victory over The Medfield Warriors last Wednesday night.

With EEE fears moving their football games to Saturdays, rather than Friday nights, the Westwood students have decided to throw their support behind the girls’ volleyball team. Dressed in beach attire (it was the evening’s theme), the crowd chanted, cheered, waved beach towels and used pool noodles as thunder sticks throughout the match.

Medfield deserves a ton of credit for how well the team handled the situation. In the first set, they gave the crowd little to cheer about as they ran out to an early lead. At 19-6, an unreturnable serve from Kate Anderson was punctuated with a fake shoe-shining celebration, while the Medfield JV put shoes on their hands to try and match the Westwood student section’s noise. In the end, the Warriors won the set, 25-14.

Bella Hamdan sends the ball straight back to the Medfield side.  Photos by James Kinneen

Bella Hamdan sends the ball straight back to the Medfield side. Photos by James Kinneen

The second set was almost the inverse of the first, with Westwood running out to an early lead that Medfield couldn’t overcome. A couple of spikes from Bella Hamdan had the Wolverines up 7-0, then 18-7 when Westwood showed off their own unreturnable serve celebration (best described as a team-wide jump, combined with a chainsaw revving motion). In the end, Westwood took the second set, 25-13.

The third was close, with the score tied at 16-16. After a small Westwood run, Medfield called timeout, down 20-16. It made little difference, however, as Westwood continued its run and took the third, 25-18.

The fourth set is where Medfield deserves all sorts of credit. After running out to an early 17-9 lead, a Westwood timeout led to a Wolverine run and an eventual 20-19 Westwood lead. The crowd was roaring at the comeback, and had Medfield crumbled at this point, no one could have blamed them.

Instead, the Warriors fought back and won the set, 28-26, after some great effort by Kayla McNeil.

Medfield was able to carry that momentum into the final set, but couldn’t maintain their quality throughout. After taking a 9-5 lead, they went on to lose the final set, 15-11.

While the Warriors dropped to 1-4 on the season, coach Cynthia Souza noted that against what was “absolutely” the most hostile crowd they’ve played, there were plenty of good things they did on the court.

“It was a tough environment to play in with the loud crowd, and I think it was really, really competitive,” she explained. “Each team played very well, and it came down to the bitter end, but good job by both teams. We made lots of great plays throughout the game - our libero [Genevieve Brooslin] did phenomenally in digging, both my setters kept putting the ball up, we got some good all-around plays. I made a lot of substitutions. They’re a really well-rounded team, so they’re just starting out early in the season. They’ll come along.”

As for Westwood, coach Jenny Murphy acknowledged the crowd’s support while noting that it was her players who ultimately propelled the team to victory.

“This season, [the crowd] has been getting bigger, which is really, really nice - it’s great to see people coming out and supporting volleyball. I think our last three home games, we’ve had big crowds. Last Friday’s crowd was bigger than that, and louder than that. The serve really, really helped us out tonight. Hermela [Haile] just won player of the game because her serve dug us out of many holes tonight, so it’s just a reminder to play our game, control what we can control and fight for every point. Bella Hamdan was great tonight. She really found the holes and capitalized on the Medfield side. And Katy Dumais as well - she’s our setter, and she had a ton of assists tonight and played a really good game.”

With the win, the team with the best homefield advantage in Massachusetts high school volleyball moved to 5-1.

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