Rockland doesn’t have much of a history when it comes to girls volleyball, but it’s making some this fall.
Having never advanced farther than a sectional semifinal entering this year, the Bulldogs will be playing for a Div. 3 state title on Saturday after rolling to a 3-0 sweep of Ipswich Wednesday night at Newton South in impressive fashion – 25-17, 25-18, 25-4.
“I think that, especially us seniors, we have worked so hard all these four years and it’s making it all worth it to get here,” said Rockland captain Caroline Elie. “Knowing how hard we are playing and our energy is up and the fans are supporting us, I think it’s just good for the community and the volleyball program.”
Rockland (24-1) will face Frontier at Worcester State.
There aren’t many Div. 3 squads that can match the hitting power of Elie and fellow senior captain Hannah Wyllie. The dominating duo imposed their will against the Tigers as Wyllie pounded out 16 kills and Elie added seven against an Ipswich team that had not dropped a game in the postseason.
“This season I wanted to load our schedule with Division 1 schools and Division 2 schools just because we wanted it this year,” said Rockland coach Emily Murphy. “To know that we have the talent in the front row like we do, we needed to teams that have that talent, too.”
But it was a serving game — that Murphy admitted has struggled at times this year — that may have been the real key. Rockland had 11 aces, including four from sophomore Jessica Esposito, who had long serving runs early in both Game 2 and Game 3 to get the Bulldogs out to quick starts.
Rockland led 8-0 in Game 2, but Ipswich (16-7) twice battled back to within one at 11-10 and 17-16 before falling. There was no recovering from a 17-1 edge to begin Game 3, however.
“When we are playing our best is when we are having fun, laughing and relaxing,” said Elie. “When we stress out is when we start making mistakes and that whole third set we were just relaxed and having fun, that’s the biggest thing for us.”
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