Volleyball falls to New Bedford in semi-finals
When the Dartmouth High girls volleyball team headed into November 8’s matchup against New Bedford High, Head Coach Rachel Lassey knew it would be a challenge for several reasons, not the least of which was the Whalers’ Janice Leao.
“Janice is almost unstoppable; we had to pass well and serve receive because we knew every time we gave them the ball it was like ‘here you go Janice,'” Lassey said.
The Indians ended its postseason run in the Div. 1 South semi-finals with a 3-1 loss to New Bedford High. The Whalers entered the postseason with an undefeated 17-0 record, and defeated Bishop Feehan 3-0 on November 6 to face off against Dartmouth. Despite the strength of the Indians’ opponent, Lassey didn’t think a win was out of the question, but her team struggled on offense.
“We could have hung with them a little bit more if we just could pass the ball and serve receive it better, and we couldn’t do that today,” Lassey said, adding that the Whalers found an advantage in Dartmouth’s season-long struggle with float serves.
The Whalers took the first set 25-14, but the Indians bounced back in the second set, taking an early lead and tying the game at 1-1 with a successful 25-19 set. After that, however, the Indians trailed in the third set (25-15) and most of the fourth set.
At one point close to the end of the match, the Indians put several points on the board as the Whalers hovered close to closing the game in the fourth set, but the Whalers took the win.
Despite the loss, Lassey credited her team with creating lasting bonds and improving throughout the season. The Indians ended the season with a 13-7 record, and beat Hingham on November 6 to make it to the semi-finals.
“From the beginning of the season to now it’s a completely different team, and we have a lot to be proud of,” Lassey said. “Nobody can hang their heads tonight.”
With the end of the season, Lassey is already looking to the future. With only four seniors graduating, she’s hoping her young team of sophomores and juniors will continue the team’s success for the next few seasons.
One loss that will be tough to replace, however, is the team’s senior captain, Sophie Crane. On the varsity team since her freshman year, Lassey said she’s a defining leader on the court and a valuable motivator both on and off the court.
For Crane, it was an emotional time knowing her four years as an Indian have come to a close with a team she’s formed many bonds with.
“[The team] is closer than I could ever imagine,” Crane said. “It’s closer than any other sport. We’re all best friends during the season and off season. We’re just always together.”
Crane had hoped to advance further into the postseason. It’s her second time, after advancing to the finals in 2015 and losing to the same team.
The game was also a pivotal moment for teammate Cierra Yim. She scored her 1,000th assist on a serve killed by Lindsey Oliveira, who also happens to be Yim’s best friend.
“I thought ‘wow, this is insane,’” Yim said of the moment she hit 1,000 assists. “I was really hoping it would happen [tonight] too.”
New Bedford advances to the Div. 1 South finals, and will face Barnstable on November 11.