Photo: Belmont Junior Libero Sophia Estok readies a serve vs. Woburn.
Four wins in as many matches to start the season has Belmont High Volleyball perched atop of the Middlesex League, reaching that height after defeating an always tough Woburn High squad last Friday, Sept. 14, at the Wenner Field House.
It was a match to remember as the Marauders battled the Tanners in a closely contested five-setter, yet another close game in the history of the rivalry.
“After losing to them twice last season they were excited to take them on this season,” said Belmont Head Coach Jen Couture.
The Marauders came out strong winning the first set 25-18, with a 10 point service run by senior Defensive Specialist Leah Babroudi and 4 solo blocks by senior Middle Hitter Audrey Quinn.
Woburn made adjustments quickly and was able to take the second set 25-22, including an 8 point run of their own.
In the third Belmont tightened the serves they received, never allowing Woburn’s servers more than 2 serves before siding out. Junior Libero Sophia Estok had an exceptional day passing and was 51 for 52 on serve receive, breaking her own single-match record. Preventing the Tanners from long service runs allowed the Marauders to take third set 25-15.
By the fourth set, Woburn’s middle hitters were in a groove, spiking and power tipping with dominance, often at junior setter Mindee Lai. Lai racked up 25 digs, the next closest being Babroudi with 13. The Tanners took the set 25-19 – led by Woburn’s Tyliah Maldonado-Andre who ended the game with 21 kills – and it was on to the Marauders first fifth set of the season.
After a quick side out, Lai extended Belmont’s lead to 3-0 before losing the serve. The Marauders managed to side out on the first serve for a full rotation, preventing Woburn from gaining momentum and slowly extended their lead. Senior Outside Hitter Jane Mahon and junior Opposite Hitter Nena Trifunovic provided 10 and 6 kills respectively to finish off the Tanner.
Mahon holds the career record for kills and is chasing the career blocks record. While Jane is the most experienced hitter on the team, we still spread out our offense.
While Couture points to Mahon – who holds the program’s career record for kills and is nearing the blocks record – as a team leader at the net, “we’ve never been a team who sets the same hitter every ball. This year we have a lot of different types of hitters who can get the team kills.”
“Every game we begin with our cheer of ‘We play as a team. We win as a team’ and it’s never been more true, said Couture.
“We have the strongest setter and libero the team has ever had and that gives the team a solid foundation to build off of. Lai and Estok have been starters since their freshmen year when they began playing with senior captains Mahon and Babroudi,” said the Belmont coach.
Having players that have already been through two full seasons together makes a huge difference, she noted. The majority of the starters from last year returned this year and have worked hard in the offseason.
“I think that’s the big reason we’re having such a strong start this year and I’m excited to see how far we can go,” she said.