Andover Spikes Dracut High

There is no stopping the Lady Blue Volleyball team. Neither local rivals Dracut High nor North Reading stood a chance against the girls, as Andover jumped to an unbeaten 5-0. Andover entered Saturday’s game at a bit of a disadvantage. Both Co-captain Mimi Hanley ’04 and Jessie Daigneault ’04 were unable to play, as the duo were off on college visits. Even without the two starting middle hitters, the Lady Blue pulled off a strong win against Dracut. In the beginning of the first game, the girls had a difficult time getting a comfortable lead. Dracut, an out-of-league rival, kept it close until the second half of the game, when the PA offense, led by Co-captain and setter Devon Dickerson ’04, picked up the pace. With the help of strong efforts by Lauren Cantwell ’05 and Cassie Tognoni ’05, the squad got the job done with a score of 30-25. The depth of the team was made obvious in the second game, which was not nearly as close. A change in the lineup put Parla Alpan ’06 at outside hitter, Sarah Thomas ’06 at middle hitter, and Megan Winn ’05 at setter. They dominated Dracut from the beginning of the game, and won a convincing 30-11. If depth is the mark of a great team, then the Lady Blue is certainly superior. The bench, which came through against Dracut, also stepped up last Wednesday. With Dickerson thrown on the sideline from a knee injury sustained during the first game, the team was able to rise to the challenge and win the match. “We have a very talented group of people, and it’s great to see that,” said Dickerson, whose knee has since recovered and is back to peak condition. The entire squad gave outstanding performances, with a team total of 25 kills and 12 aces. Tognoni served successfully 11 times out of 11 attempts, with one ace, and was 12 for 13 in hitting attempts with 8 kills. Cantwell was also successful hitting 13 out of 15 attempts with 9 kills, and serving 16 out of 18 attempts with 5 aces. Alpan stood out, as well, with 3 aces and serving 8 out of 8. The victory was especially sweet for the girls, as the Lady Blue lost to Dracut last year in a close four-game match last year. The win extended the team’s record to 4-0. On Wednesday, PA faced off against North Reading High School, a team from a different league. Although the North Reading team is strong, it has been plagued by injuries throughout the season and was no match for Andover’s squad. The girls started out the match with a strong first game. The score for the first set was 30-19, and it looked as though the Lady Blue were going to cruise to another overpowering win. North Reading, however, refused to go down without a fight. In the second game, they gave the girls a run for their money. North Reading had an early lead, until Daigneault came through for PA. Her clutch serving helped her team squeak by their opponents with a score of 30-26. They won the third and final game decisively, 30-17. Coach Clyfe Beckwith utilized every player, and the team put up big numbers. Dickerson made three kills on three attempts and five aces, as well as 15 assisting sets. Hanley made 4 serving aces, 3 blocks, and 10 kills out of 20 attempts. The team total of aces was 18 and they had 36 kills. “The team plays together really well,” said Cantwell. “We’re pretty much all returning so we’ve played together a lot. We know how to work together, and the new people have meshed really well.” This win brings the season record to 5-0. For the fifth time this year, the squad bested its opponent in straight sets, meaning that the team not only has a perfect record, but is unbeaten in every game within each match. The girls hope to extend this streak this Saturday when they play league rival Choate.