Nile Fox has a plan.
And in his second year as the girls’ volleyball coach at Newton North, his players are all in, resulting in a 6-0 start for a top-ranked Tiger team that advanced to last year’s Division 1 state final against Bay State Conference rival Needham.
Despite the graduation of eight seniors from that finalist squad, a relatively young North team is led by senior Abigail Wright and junior Katelin Simmons, the team’s captains.
“I’m a very competitive person, and I’m glad that I’m here, I’m just still trying to get it to be my culture, and really set the things that I want to do,” Fox said. “They’ve been buying into everything and it’s been great. I’m trying to be better and push myself, and I’m pushing the girls so we can get better together. I’m new and I just want them to know that we’re all in this together.”
After sweeping No. 7 Needham in an emotional rematch of the state final, the Tigers went on the road and took down No. 2 Lincoln-Sudbury on Wednesday night in four tightly-contested sets: 25-19, 25-20, 19-25, 25-22.
He has continued to remind us all of what our goals are and hold us accountable to what we say we want to achieve.
“We came in with the game plan, we did what we wanted to do,” Fox said. “I was nervous going in, we had the really big one Tuesday, and had to go play another really good team Wednesday, but the girls came in focused.”
Junior outside hitter Chloe Lee recorded 18 kills and three aces, and Wright had 17 kills.
“Coach Nile has been all in, all the way since the very beginning,” Wright said.
“He has continued to remind us all of what our goals are and hold us accountable to what we say we want to achieve. Going into the games this week, he talked us through game plans and focused on what we could do as a team to be successful rather than the other team.”
Wright added that having so many new players “has given our whole program the opportunity to build really strong bonds, and I think it’s pretty clear that we all love being on a team together on and off the court.”
Fox wants the group to stay hungry.
“We know we still have a lot more work to do,” he said, “and I’m kind of glad about that because we see our errors that we make and we see the things that we can get better at, so every day we’re still trying to get better.”
The state championship loss remains a motivator.
“We definitely learned a lot over the past two matches against two very talented and gritty teams, and I think it has shown us how mentally tough we have to be going forward,” Wright said.
▪ The lone returnee of a Bedford team that graduated 14 seniors, Gabriela Zovko recorded her 1,000th career assist in the team’s five-set loss to Westford Academy Wednesday.
The 6-foot-2-inch senior setter entered the match at 995, and hit the bench marker assisting on a kill by senior Elora Syed in the second set.
“It took a while to get there, but to be on the court with the best people when it happened made it a really uplifting moment,” she said.
A starter since her freshman year, when she he tallied 425 assists, Zovko s now a leader in the locker room.
“[Zovko] is really a player that the other girls look to,” Bedford coach Lisa Predaina said. “As a leader, that’s a role she’s continued to expand upon as a teacher who has all the experience.”
With a new set of teammates, the Bucs (3-3) will lean on Zovko to provide guidance through challenging moments.
“I’m just looking to play some good volleyball and hopefully bring up the girls around me,” Zovko said. “They are all willing to work hard and it is my role to help out.”
Pending her acceptance, Zovko is verbally committed to attend Sacred Heart, where she will play Division 1 volleyball.
▪ Lincoln-Sudbury roared to an impressive 6-0 start before Wednesday’s loss to Newton North.
“We have a really strong senior class,” said L-S third-year coach Greg Falcone, who is assisted by longtime Warrior coach Judy Katalina, who has been part of 500-plus victories at the school.
“They take a large responsibility in leadership and having them there is huge.”
▪ Eight games in, and No. 20 Revere is 8-0 in the Greater Boston League.
Coach Lianne Mimmo has guided her roster of 12 through the GBL with star performances coming from Tassya DaCosta (22 assists), Ayra Vrani (15 kills) and Lea Doucette (seven kills), who played big in Wednesday’s win over Malden.
Games to watch
Thursday, Braintree at No. 1 Newton North, 4:30 p.m. — Facing their third match in consecutive days, the top-ranked Tigers return to the Bay State Conference to take on Braintree.
Thursday, No. 11 Ipswich at No. 6 Lynnfield, 5:30 p.m. — Can the visiting Tigers (4-1) take down their Cape Ann rival that is off to a 5-0 start?
Monday, Andover at North Andover, 5:30 p.m. — A 5-1 Andover squad travels to MVC rival North Andover in a match which could have ramifications in the power rankings.
Monday, Sandwich at No. 17 Dennis-Yarmouth, 5:30 p.m. —The Dolphins have been an even 3-3. losing their only Cape & Islands match to this point. Sandwich is 4-1.
Correspondent Tyler Foy contributed to this match.