By Kevin J. Stone, Contributing Writer
WESTBOROUGH – In 2017, the Westborough girls volleyball team made an incredible run though the postseason and capped off a 21-2 season with a Division 2 state title.
Fast forward four years, and the Rangers are right back in the hunt for a state championship after closing out their regular season schedule at 14-0. With no sectionals and just a statewide tournament now in play, the Rangers are taking part in a CMASS “invitational” of sorts that was created by the athletic directors in the area to still crown a sectional champion in each sport. Once that ends, head coach Roger Anderson is excited to see where his team stands against some of the other elite competition in the state.
‘The level of play is really high’
Anderson has seen and done it all now in his 23rd season coaching. So, are there similarities between the 2017 team and this one?
“I think the biggest similarity is the level of play is really high,” he said in a recent interview. “They’re really motivated to learn and get better every day. Certainly, every year we try to play the best of our ability and some years just line up a little better than others.”
The most glaring difference, meanwhile, is the amount of senior leadership on this team compared to the team four years ago. That season, Anderson had eight seniors, this year there are only four. Melissa Kuang, Makenna Thrush, Christine Li and Grace Burns are those lone seniors this season who have been leading the way both on and off the floor.
“They all play a role in the rotation,” Anderson said. “We’ve leaned on them this year, but it isn’t as big a group as that 17 team had. I think the seniors have done a great job leading with everyone on the team in mind.
“They came up with a series of statements regarding how they’d go about their business and going back to those has been a good reminder – especially for the younger players – as to why we’re doing what we do on a daily basis,” he continued.
Power rankings add new dimension to season
With a new power ranking system coming into play this year as a way to determine playoff seeding, coaches in all sports have had to make sure their student athletes aren’t getting too wrapped up in numbers but, rather, focusing on the task at hand each day.
“I really like the power rankings because, for years, we’ve played a tough schedule but we weren’t always one of the higher seeds, necessarily,” Anderson said. “It’s good to know the other teams around the state that are doing well without having to dive into too much research.”
“Parents, teachers and fans can look at that and have fun with it, but we know we’ve got to focus on practice every day,” he added, though.
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