The team banner that lists the most championships in the gymnasium at Quincy High School is not a football, baseball, or hockey team — it’s the girls’ volleyball program.
The Presidents won eight sectional titles and three state championships from 1982-90 under coaches Ray Whitehouse and Tom Anderson.
One of Anderson’s former players, 2001 grad Jacqui Niosi , has directed the program to a 215-70 record since 2007 — with just one losing season, in addition to winning the 2009 Division 1 Central-East title.
In the decade since, Quincy has consistently fielded a top team, reaching the Central-East in 2015 and 2016 before losing to Newton North.
But this season has been different, and the makeup of this year’s team is not like that of years past. Ranked ninth in this week’s Globe Top 20, the Presidents are 14-0 after wins over Plymouth South and Scituate.
“We definitely kind of fly under the radar, I think, sometimes,” Niosi said. “I don’t mind it.”
Their offense is more dynamic now. Past teams that went on deep playoff runs never had a hitter over 5 feet 8 inches. Now they have one in 6-foot senior Ally McMorrow (93 kills), a force at the net along with junior Julianna Tracey (106 kills).
“We’re definitely a smaller team,” Niosi said. “When you look at us you don’t really think volleyball powerhouse because we’re shorter, but we get by and play pretty good defense. I think the difference this year is we’ve got some good offense to go along with it, which has gotten progressively better over the course of this season.”
That offense displayed its progress in Quincy’s signature win, 3-2, over previously undefeated Duxbury on Oct. 2 in a matchup of Patriot Keenan and Fisher Division leaders. The Presidents dropped the first two sets, but rallied, taking the final three sets, 25-20, 26-24 and 16-14. Quincy had 57 kills in the match, led by Tracey (19), McMorrow (14), and senior Julia Kapcia (10).
“Honestly, we had nothing to lose,” McMorrow said. “[We said] ‘let’s just leave it out on the court.’”
Quincy beat Duxbury last season, too, but the Presidents are just 7-9 against Dux in Niosi’s tenure.
“It’s really competitive,” Niosi said. “It’s like [playing] North Quincy to us.”
Defense and serving have always been the Presidents’ focal points. The defense is anchored by junior defensive specialist Alyssa Ruan (158 digs, 11.3 per match).
“She was really excited to have tall people that can block and help her out on defense,” Kapcia said. “I think it’s exciting knowing that we are good at defense and also now have height so we can play both sides.”
That defense is backed up by an astounding 164 aces. Five players have at least 20 aces, led by sophomore Mona Ly’s 33.
“We have such a diverse range of talent on the team, that every day we always push each other in practice, to push each other to be better. It’s not just in games, having that. It’s every single day,” McMorrow said.
Are there talks of an undefeated season among Quincy’s players? Yes. But they know that a fast start in the regular season won’t equate to the program’s first state title since 1988.
“Over the years, Quincy, we’ve been known as underdogs,” Kapcia said. “We’ve not been expected to be as good as we actually were and the fact that now we’re undefeated so far, I think we as a team are not shocked, but we want to be a little more humble and confident about it.”
■ As previously noted, there are nine undefeated teams remaining in EMass: Newton North, Hopkinton, Winchester, Lincoln-Sudbury, Dartmouth, Quincy, Needham, Lynnfield, and Danvers. But top-ranked Newton North is just 7-0 while a number of other programs have played 11, 12, or 13 matches. Why? The defending Division 1 state champs only scheduled 13 regular-season matches because coach Richard Barton wants his team to spend more time refining their skills in practice and at high-level tournaments. The Tigers play only Bay State Conference opponents.
■ One of those high-level tournaments is the VolleyHall Classic, sponsored by the International Volleyball Hall of Fame in Holyoke. The tourney, which will tip off Monday morning at 8 at American International College, features features 21 teams from Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, New Hampshire and Rhode Island. Newton North, Central Catholic, Barnstable, Reading, Medway, Hopkinton, Wellesley, and Notre Dame-Hingham are the EMass teams participating.
Twenty-one two-set pool play matches will determine the top team in each of the six pools. Matches start tied 4-4 and the first to 25 wins The top two seeds will receive byes into the semifinals of the playoffs to determine the winner. Each playoff match is one set that starts at zero, first to 25 wins. Barnstable has won the last two tournaments.
Matches to Watch
Friday, Revere at Bedford, Friday, 5:15 p.m. — Give credit to the 11-2 Patriots for scheduling Bedford (second place in the DCL Small) twice this season. Revere lost to the Buccaneers, 3-1, on Sept. 19 and have gone 6-1 since. This game could be a preview of what type of team Revere may be in the postseason. The Patriots also have 12-0 Winchester on the schedule on Oct. 24.
Friday, No. 10 Duxbury at Hingham, 7 p.m. — The Dragons and Harbormen have one of the most competitive rivalries in the state, no matter the sport, and this match is no different as the top two teams in the Patriot Keenan square off.
Arlington Catholic at Arlington, Saturday, 11:30 a.m. — The Cougars make the 0.8-mile drive down Mass. Ave as both squads push for playoff spots.
No. 20 King Philip at No. 18 Franklin, Tues. Oct. 15, 4:45 p.m. — Entering Thursday, the Warriors and the Panthers were the top two teams in the Hockomock Kelley-Rex. Franklin defeated KP, 3-2, on Sept. 9, handing the Warriors their only league loss.
No. 4 Lincoln-Sudbury at No. 19 Acton-Boxborough, Tues. Oct. 15, 5:15 p.m. — L-S has lost just three sets through its first 11 matches as the DCL Large leaders face their rivals for the second time this season. L-S won the first meeting, 25-15, 25-17 and 25-13, on Sept. 17.
Brandon Chase can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.