The Quincy girls' volleyball team does not plan on altering its system any time soon.
Then again, why should the Presidents change?
Their approach to the game relies on strong, tenacious defense, well-placed attacks, and a little bit of deception when the situation calls for it.
Quincy is 11-0 without losing a set and won its second consecutive Patriot League Fisher Division title. The Presidents entered the Patriot Cup as the No. 1 seed from the Fisher Division and earned a first-round bye. After Thursday’s 26-24, 25-23, 25-18 second-round win over Hingham, Quincy is 46-9 since 2018, postseason included.
“It was really fast-paced good volleyball. It kind of went back and forth the whole way,” said Quincy coach Jacqui Niosi. “[Hingham] is very big at the net and they hit the ball well.”
After a difficult 3-2 loss to King Philip in last year’s Division 1 Central-East semifinals, Quincy finally has the chance to win a championship it has sought for so long, albeit during a truncated season, having established itself as a frontrunner again.
“We were excited about the season. You don’t really walk into a season thinking you’re going to go undefeated. We had high expectations of ourselves playing well, and fortunately that’s what we did,” Niosi said.
Of the 33 sets the Presidents have won this season, 25 have been by more than 5 points and their defense has helped the teammaintain large leads. Quincy had 425 total digs this season (14.2 per set) entering Thursday night’s match, and four players have at least 30 digs, led by seniors Alyssa Ruan, who had 23 digs vs. Hingham to give her 119 on the season, and Ashley Grehan, who had five kills and 14 digs Thursday to give her 108 for the year.
Niosi also switched junior Mona Ly from outside hitter to defensive specialist before the start of the season to bolster the back row, and the results have paid dividends, as she’s averaging 6.5 digs per match.
“I think our block has improved, but definitely every year, we tend to rely on playing strong defense,” Niosi said.
Senior Rachel McKenna, who notched 100 kills in a full 2019 campaign, has 50 this season.
Hingham coach Katelyn Sassorossi said Quincy would be a tough first playoff match for the Harborwomen, who finished second in the Keenan Division behind undefeated Duxbury. Quincy and Hingham did not meet due to the pandemic, but the Presidents won both matches in 2019, 3-0.
“We’re really excited because we love when we get to face a competitive team. Quincy’s a very scrappy team so we’re going to have to be very smart to where we attack on the court,” Sassorossi said Thursday afternoon. “I just remember them being really great, defensively, and them catching us on the tip over the block. So we’ve been preparing for both scenarios coming into the game.”
Unfortunately, Sassorossiwasn’t able to coach Thursday because she was in self-quarantine after a family member tested positive for COVID-19. Hingham JV coach Natalia Maccarrone and freshman coach Gabby Parker assumed coaching responsibilities. Sassorossi said she would be back for Hingham’s next game in the double-elimination tournament because this week was the last of her two-week quarantine.
Quincy almost had a COVID-19 scare threaten its season. On Nov. 2, Quincy superintendent, Dr. Kevin Mulvey notified the community in a letter that, due to a party attended by approximately 70 high school students, North Quincy High would be moving to remote learning and athletics would be canceled until Nov. 16.
Fortunately, Quincy High was not affected by the incident, so the Presidents were able to keep their season intact. In hindsight, the incident only galvanized Niosi’s squad, giving her players an added sense of urgency in a shortened regular season, which ended last Thursday with a sweep of Scituate.
“It’s obviously a little smaller than a state tournament, but every time you step on the court you feel lucky to play,” Niosi said. “We just talked as a team about wanting to be out there and taking advantage of every moment.”
▪ Scituate (3-2 over Marshfield on Monday), Whitman-Hanson (3-0 over Pembroke on Tuesday), and Hanover (3-0 over Silver Lake on Tuesday) were winners in the first round of the Patriot Cup in the tournament’s single-elimination phase. Thursday marked the start of its double-elimination format, which continues through next Wednesday. The finals will be either Friday, Nov. 20 or Saturday, Nov. 21.
▪ Haverhill improved to 9-0 on Wednesday with a 25-21, 25-13, 25-18 win over North Andover behind 13 kills from senior Jada Burdier, four aces and 11 digs from senior Shiloh Osmer. The Hillies have two games remaining on Saturday and next Wednesday, a home-and-home series with Billerica. An undefeated season would cap a two-season run in which the Hillies went 30-3.
▪ The Catholic Central Cup will commence with first-round and quarterfinal games Saturday. No. 8 Archbishop Williams hosts No. 9 Matignon at noon in the tournament’s only first-round match. The winner will play No. 1 Bishop Feehan next Tuesday at 5 p.m. The other quarterfinal matches on Saturday: No. 7 St. Mary’s at No. 2 Austin Prep (10 a.m.); No. 6 Arlington Catholic at No. 3 Bishop Fenwick (1 p.m.); and No. 5 Bishop Stang at No. 4 Cardinal Spellman (4 p.m.).
Semifinal dates and times are TBA and the final will be Saturday, Nov. 21 at the highest remaining seed, time TBA.