Westborough volleyball takes on tough competition for playoff readiness

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 Emma Smallcomb (l) and Haley Brown Photo/John Orrell
Emma Smallcomb (l) and Haley Brown
Photo/John Orrell

By John Orrell, Contributing Writer

Westborough – To play your best, you should play the best.

While that may be a head-scratcher to most, it certainly is not for Westborough High (WHS) girls varsity volleyball team head coach Roger Anderson who is recognized area-wide as one of the best in the game.

As Anderson prepares for playoff competition which begins in a matter of days, he knows that playing top tier opponents late in the season is a much preferred route than playing lesser caliber teams that deliver less challenge. Win or lose, the caliber of teams that the Rangers take on shapes their performance and prepares them best for what is to come. This season, it was two of the state’s finest, Barnstable and Melrose, who lined up with Westborough to close out the regular season, matchups that didn’t occur by accident.

“Playing top teams prepares us for the type of competition we’re going to face in the tournament,” said Anderson, whose team finishes the regular season at 14-4 following a 3-1 victory over Melrose and a successive-set loss to Barnstable. “We want to win but the kids really like playing great competition. Plus, we can work on different kinds of situations that will help us play our best.”

“Playing against harder teams sharpens our game a lot and it’s more fun because it gives us a challenge and it’s fun to be challenged,” said senior Haley Brown, the lone senior on the team recognized in the Barnstable contest on Senior Night. “We play them (Barnstable) every year and every year we have really close games. We really wanted to win this one; it just didn’t come out in our favor.”

“I thought this game really showed our character for going into the tournament,” added junior Emma Smallcomb. “We’re playing the toughest teams in the state and that’s going to prepare us the best out of anybody for the tournament.”

Still somewhat fresh in the minds of players, coaches and team supporters is last season’s heartbreaker 3-1 loss to powerhouse Notre Dame of Hingham in the State Division 2 finals held at Fitchburg High. While not dwelling on the past, it’s more than clear that all involved would savor the opportunity to go far in the playoffs once more.

“I would love to get to the finals again,” said Smallcomb. “It’s an honor to play in that game and a lot of people don’t ever get to do it. We need to play hard at every game and every practice so we get better and when that game comes around, hopefully we’ll be a part of it.

One of the many qualities that this group brings to the hardwood night in and night out is a palpable sense of team camaraderie and the joy that players receive in competing as a Ranger.

“This team is very flexible and I like that,” Anderson said of his 2016 squad. “They’re always willing to try new things if it can help the team win. They’re not set in their ways and are willing to try new defensive and offensive situations.

“They never put undue pressure on themselves and get along so great. They have great fight in them and are not afraid to take on any team and as a coach, I like that a lot. They can be relentless.”

Anderson and his players now await MIAA Tournament pairings that are expected to be announced later in the week.

Members of the 2016 Westborough High girls varsity volleyball team are senior Haley Brown (OH), juniors Rebecca Arena (OH), Emma Smallcomb (S), Kristen Steudel (OH/MH), MaryKate Lehman (L), Jaclyn Latimer (L), Erica Ross (RS/OH), Emily Hannan (OH/MH), Mary Beth Ashton (MH/RS) along with sophomores Chloe Goebel (RS/OH), Heidi Yap (S), Sarah Masciarelli (MH), Danielle Heims (OH/RS), Rebecca Plunkett (S/RS) and Gabrielle Bailey (OH/MH/RS).

 

 

 

 

 

 

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