HHS volleyball aims for banner season

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Talent and team chemistry is a combination every high school coach hopes to have. This season, the Hopkinton High School girls volleyball team has shown it has a plethora of both, and the result has been rolling through half the regular season without a single loss.

“They are just really supportive of each other,” coach Margie Grabmeier said. “We have eight seniors on the team, which is the most I have ever had, and I think that makes a difference. They are motivated by it being their last year, and I think that energy is carrying over to the rest of the team.”

Four members of this year’s squad were on the 2019 Hillers team that put together a deep postseason run. Grabmeier thinks this could be another banner year.

“Not only are they talented volleyball players, but the team chemistry is unbelievable,” Grabmeier said. “It’s just a pleasure to go to practice every day and work with this group of girls, and that makes the difference.”

Grabmeier said her team has been very balanced this year. Senior captain Cathryn Leighton has been a steady presence as the team’s setter.

“She is just very reliable and consistent,” her coach said. “She has great hands and great court awareness and she is able to put the ball pretty much anywhere. She is great with our hitters and with the defense.”

Libero Sam Berenson is another returning senior who leads the Hillers in passes received and digs.

“She has been on the team since sophomore year,” Grabmeier said. “She has only gotten stronger and more confident each and every year.”

Middle blocker Kate Powers leads the team in kills and blocks.

“She is just a presence in the middle of the court,” Grabmeier said, adding that her game is reminiscent of her surname. “She can get the team and the fans fired up with her explosive, powerful hits.”

Senior outside hitter Melanie Gildea is second in kills and has a strong attack from anywhere on the floor. Mikayla Grady, another senior, has been Hopkinton’s most consistent hitter. She is tops on the team in hit percentage, Grabmeier said, and is “playing consistent and clean volleyball while hitting the ball hard.”

Kate Dion has provided yet another strong option for attacking on the right side, while Sarah Furlong and Meg McCarron are both dependable and talented defensive players, Grabmeier said.

“The seniors are pretty much leading the way,” she said, summing up the season so far.

The Hillers also have five juniors — right side hitter Abbie Hardenbrook, middle blocker Maggie Fallon, setter Katie Cooper, and outside hitters Emily Graeber and Annabelle Senseney — along with sophomore defensive specialist Abby Hebert.

“They are holding their own,” Grabmeier said. “They are every bit as talented and add to the team dynamic.”

Team managers Amisi Omondi and Olivia Chen have added to the effort, Grabmeier said. The combination has the Hillers poised to tick off a number of lofty goals this fall.

“The team goals are the ones they are most concerned with,” she said. “The goal is to win the Tri-Valley League — they were close last year but didn’t quite follow through, so they want to get back there. And they want a deep tournament run in Division 2.”