The Thursday Thoughts as we take a look at some of the biggest games in all three divisions.
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Hollis Brookline (5-0) at Bedford (6-0)
I expect this to be a dogfight between two very good undefeated teams. Jenn Chick Ruth and I will be at the game to bring you all the highlights and the post-game interview with the winning team.
Starting with the Cavaliers, who placed second last year in the Division II standings, are already off to another hot start. They have outscored their opponents 15-2 in sets this season; continuing to dominate offensively.
I expect to see a lot from Outside Hitter Hannah Close, who is coming off a terrific performance vs Alvirne last week. The Senior Captain racked up 12 kills on 5 aces in the 3-2 win. Look for her to carry that momentum into this big game on the road.
Head coach Anna McGann and her Bulldogs are rolling here early, with some big wins in the Division over Concord and Manchester Memorial.
I haven’t got to see this Bedford team yet this season, but I’ve heard great things about their Captain Setter Caleigh O'Connell; who is also one of this week's nominees for player of the week. As a Junior, O’Connell is nearing her 1,000 career assist milestone after eclipsing over 50 assists last week. I expect her to be a big piece to this well-coached Bulldogs group.
Coe-Brown (4-2) at Concord (5-2)
These two met back in week 1 where Coe Brown came away with the win 3-2 at home. I expect another close battle between two really good teams. Concord is eager to get another crack at this team, and we’ll see if they can get the win in their home gym this time around.
I got to see this Coe-Brown team last week and they looked sharp from the first set, all the way through the post-game interview after the win over St. Thomas. Remember this team was the runner up in DII last season, and they have all six of their returning starters.
Emily Morris and Annelise Wade have been terrific all year for the Bears, with the help of Junior standout Kaitlyn Miller. This team is very well-coached, playing a smart, up-tempo style of volleyball who are always ready to capitalize on mistakes.
For Concord, they have much improved since last season after falling short of the playoffs. Head coach Jonathan Flower has done a great job with this group after numerous injuries held them back last season early on.
Elizabeth Blinn has been a big contributor for the Crimson Tide. Helping her team secure wins over Goffstown, Manchester Memorial, and John Stark. I suspect another strong outing from her, and the whole Concord team as they try and get a win back from Coe-Brown tomorrow night.
PCA (3-4) at Epping (3-3)
“The Franchise” Jenn Chick Ruth and I plan to make the trip out to Epping to cover Kevin Carreiro’s Eagles and Jenn Spectors Blue Devils.
For Epping, they have had good wins over Raymond and Manchester West, with a strong outing against undefeated Farmington losing 3-2.
Seniors Haleigh Sullivan and Mackenzie McAniff have been outstanding in the first half of the season. They combined for 7 aces, 5 assists, and 15 digs in their home opener vs Raymond. Look for big plays down the stretch from both of these players.
PCA is coming off two good wins against Nute last week, with incredible performances from Senior setter Isabella Oulette and Lindsey Hatfield. In that series, Hatfield fired 17 kills to go along with 17 aces. Oullette tallied 35 assists on 8 aces. I expect them to continue their incredible season with another big showing in this one.
The Eagles also have another weapon in their Libero Madison Knipfher, who is one of the leaders in division three for digs on the season. I suspect she will make some big-time plays against this high caliber Epping offense.
Other key games:
Spaulding (5-0) at Exeter (4-3): Spaulding is dominating, having won their sets 15-0 on the season. However, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Blue Hawks pull off the upset having seen this Red Raiders team earlier this week.
Farmington (7-0) at Prospect Mountain (5-3): The undefeated Tigers get a look at Prospect Mountain who are 5-3 in Division II. We’ll see if the Timberwolves can snap their streak at home on Friday night.
PCA (3-4) at Oyster River (5-4): PCA has looked good early, with multiple threats on both ends of the floor. This is a big test for Kevin Carreiro’s Eagles as they look to grab one from a strong Bobcats team on the road.