Belmont High Fall Sports Wrap: Field Hockey, Girls’ Soccer, Volleyball, X-C

Photo: Senior Bridget Gray running onto the pitch in Franklin during Belmont High Girls’ Soccer’s first round MIAA Division 1 match against the Panthers

Field Hockey

After an exciting 1-0 win over Arlington in the first round of the MIAA Div. 1 playoff, Belmont High Field Hockey traveled to the cold and windswept hill country west of Worcester to take on fourth-ranked Wachusetts Regional.

But there wasn’t anything sweet in the Sweet 16 match against the Mountaineers. Despite trailing 2-0 at the half, the 13th-ranked Marauders were still in the game as they stepped up their midfield play in the second quarter. But minutes into the third quarter, a Belmont player was hit on the head by a rising, high stick resulting in the injured player being taken off the field via an ambulance. (The player is OK, as she was well enough to attend homecoming later in the week, albeit with three stitches on her forehead.)

A team member recalled,” We were so freaked out that all we wanted to do was pack up and go home.” The final 25 minutes was a proforma affair and the Marauders’ season ended in a 4-0 loss and an 11-6-3 record.

Despite all the drama of the last game, the team finished the season nearly doubling the six wins from 2021 while securing its first tournament victory since 2017. The team will bring back a substantial selection of high-impact players in 2023, said Jess Smith, who completed her 19th year as head coach.

“This team of multi-sport hardworking athletes surpassed how well I thought we’d do this year,” said Smith.

“They were a group of unselfish players who used speed, endurance, will, and aggression to get it done out there. They were led by a fabulous trio of captains [Layne Doherty, Devin Kelleher and Willa Sama] who kept things fun but goal oriented. They went into every game believing they could get it done. Eleven wins in a Middlesex season is phenomenal. I’ll miss this graduation class and I’m pumped for next year,” said Smith.

Girls’ Soccer

It’s tough enough for a new coach to take the reins of a successful program, but Belmont High Girls’ Soccer Head Coach Jemmy Cange would have to do it with an injury list that would make a physical therapist rich. Nearly half of the team’s projected starters and other past varsity players sat out the entire season or significant portions of 2022.

Despite an injury cloud that hung over the team, the Belmont Girls’ returned to the playoffs with a 9-9-1 record and a tournament victory. It’s a team with some impressive results in the year – an away 4-0 victory over 12-win Arlington and capturing the title on Soccer Night In Belmont – which will return a solid defense that will join two of the best young attacking forwards in the Middlesex League.

Belmont started the postseason hosting Brockton in a play-in match, coming away with a dominant 3-1 victory with sophomore Anna Santos scoring the brace. The first of her goals came in the opening half when she directed the ball into the net. The second will be Santos’ easiest in high school as the inexperienced Boxer goalie whiffed on a clearing attempt which dribbled to a surprised Santos, who flicked it into the wide-open net. Finally, Gray scored from the corner kick when the goalie bundled her cross into the net.

Ranked 25th in the 32 MIAA Division 1 field, Belmont’s round of 32 match was at 8th-seeded Franklin. The teams were evenly matched in the first 20 minutes, with Belmont having the first shots on the net. But the Panthers would gradually take control before scoring midway through the half on a shot just out of the reach of Belmont’s ‘keeper Yuval Golani. Belmont’s best chance came from star freshman Danica Zicha who, despite tight marking, hit a shot heading for the low left corner that took a superb parry by Franklin’s goalie to keep Belmont off the scoreboard. The shortest player on the pitch, Franklin’s junior striker Anya Zub, would finish off the Marauders with the hat trick to secure the 4-0 win.

“It was tough. With all our injuries, this was going to be hard to pull off, and we just got beat up by a tougher team. But I am so proud of them, the way they kept being positive,” Cange said of the game.

The injuries may not have allowed the Marauders to reach their true potential, but Cange is optimistic about next season’s team.

“We have many sophomores and juniors that have a lot of talent and energy. I’m just hoping in the next year everyone can come back healthy, and let’s shoot for another great season.”

Senior Capt. Bridget Gray said she always wanted to play on the same team as her two older sisters.

“And being on it was even more than I could have ever dreamed of. All these girls are my best friends in the world. I’m so upset right now because we all just want another practice, another game with each other,” she said as the team left the field for the final time.

“We all just loved spending every minute of every day together, and we’re going to miss it a lot.”


Volleyball is a game that involves sending the ball back and forth over a net. And for Belmont High, Volleyball was a season of moving back and forth over the .500 mark as the Marauders attempted to continue participating in the Division 1 tournament since 2017. Unfortunately, renovation delays made it all the more difficult as the team’s home court at the Wenner Field House was unavailable for games and practices for more than a month. However, the Marauders would finally punch its playoff ticket with clutch victories in the season’s final two games – both at home – to finish the season at 9-8.

Once securing a spot in the tournament, the Marauders would find themselves slouching towards Cape Cop during afternoon rush hour traffic to play a first-round contest against perennial powerhouse Barnstable.

“We weren’t all having an ‘on the game’ against Barnstable, which we would’ve needed to win,” said Head Coach Jen Couture, as Belmont lost in straight sets, 25-19, 25-10.

“But we still put up a decent fight,” said the long-time coach. “In the first set, we were down 2-14 after a tremendous serving run by Barnstable. But we shook it off and came all the way back to 19 which made things pretty exciting,” said Couture.

Cross country

Belmont High Sophomore Jared Rife emerged as the team leader of the Boys’ Cross Country, qualifying for the Division 1 state championship by taking 6th – breaking 16 minutes (15:55.8) on the 5K course – in the Division 1B qualifier, the youngest runner of the top 10 finishers of the race. As a result, Rife is the sole Belmont High harrier at the state championships being held on Nov. 19.

The Boys’ team finished the Middlesex League duel meet season at 4-2 while placing 4th in the League meet. Seniors Ronnie Rubinshtein and Jason Kim were consistent 2-3 scorers, while sophomores Mark Chumack, Ian Hettenbach, and Ben Palmer – each scoring in the Middlesex meet – gained varsity experience for a team that next year has the potential of being a junior-fueled juggernaut.

The Belmont High Girls season finished in 9th in the Middlesex League meet with junior Keira Healey leading the way, followed by two youngsters, 9th graders Alyssa Kresse and Riley Morgan while at the qualifier, juniors Northanna Strautmann and Clara Roth secured points.

The season’s other highlight wasn’t a race or result but the team’s new home course at Rock Meadow Conservation Land. The double figure eight three mile course allows ample viewing opportunities and is an esthetic winner.

Playoff Bound Belmont High Volleyball On The Road (Again) To Cape Cod In State Tourney 1st Round

Photo: Belmont High’s Sophia Qin (12) and Sonya Ivkovic (13) set up the block against Winchester

For half of the 2022 season, the Belmont High volleyball team resembled a rock band promoting its new album: they were on the road a lot.

With a month delay to the renovation of the Wenner Field House, the Marauders found themselves without a home until the first week in October, which was only to see

“Being on the road early on meant there was a lot of scrambling to figure things out not just games but also practices,” said Belmont head coach Jen Couture.

And when the team finally decamped into the revamped field house, “we had to make a lot of adjustments early on. It took a little while to get settled into our routines and figuring out what we were doing,” she said.

Through all the hours on the highway away from their home court, the Marauders came through with tough wins in their final two matches – both at home against Arlington (3-1) and Lexington (3-1)- to pull out the 28th ranking in the MIAA Division 1 state tournament with a 10-9 record.

Their reward? A two-hour bus trip to Cape Cod to meet powerhouse Barnstable High in a first-round encounter on Friday, Nov. 4 at 5 p.m. The 16-2 Red Hawks have been perennial visitors to the tournament’s final four, winning state championships in 2015 and 2016.

Despite a somewhat chaotic start of the season, the Marauders began building into the squad that made the playoffs.

“It was halfway into the season when we started having regular practice times and started getting into a groove, when we could push ourselves every day and just enjoy that we had a set schedule that’s not changing everyday,” said Couture.

That improvement came as the Marauders tackled a competitive stretch of its schedule.

“The first time we played Winchester [which won the Middlesex League Liberty Division at 16-2], we were still kind of shaky. We weren’t sure what we were doing together. But the second time, I felt like we put up a great fight. We really made them have to beat us. It was great volleyball to watch,” she said.

Couture pointed to sophmore Bella Radojevic’s all-around effort in the final games as key to stablizing the team.

“[Radojevic’s] defense really shown in these games while her hitting has been happening all season and she’s also one of our strongest servers,” said Couture, while also calling out Libero Gabby Hashioka whose digging “hass been really solid all over the court, laying out all the time.” Against Winchester, Hashioka was challenged from the Sachems’ hard hitting front line but “she did not back down.”

Against Barnstable, Couture will rely on her experience – there are six seniors and five juniors on this year’s team – and an improving defense to keep the Marauders in the game.

Belmont Volleyball, Boys’ Soccer, Field Hockey Early Outs In Fall Tourney Play

Photo: Belmont High’s Field Hockey after the game verses Concord-Carlisle.

“Three and out” is a common American football phrase describing the failure of a team to make a first down on three plays and then punts. And this past week, Belmont’s three teams were ousted from the fall 2021 tournament season after their first matches of the post season.

Field Hockey: There could not have been a more perfect fall day for a field hockey match in New England this past Friday: a cloudless sky, autumn colors, last bit of sunlight on a cool afternoon. Only one thing could spoil the day for the Belmont High Field Hockey Marauders: going against a top-five opponent in host Concord-Carlisle.

And the number three-seed in the Division 1 tourney beat the 30th-ranked Marauders, 5-0, with a assertive performance.

The Colonials pressed the play at the beginning of the first and third quarters and was rewarded with three goals. CC’s dominance on the pitch was evident in the nearly two dozen penalty corners they took as to the pair Belmont had. While one sided, the Marauders held their own for long stretches against their traditional pre-season game opponent.

“I’m proud of this team. They never stopped playing despite the score,” said Belmont Head Coach Jessica Smith.

Boys Soccer: Things looked promising for the Marauders as Peabody Veterans Memorial High came to Harris Field minus one of its top offensive players and 20 minutes into the match a Tanner picked up a red card and was ejected from the match.

But despite the man advantage for three quarters of the match, Belmont could not find the back of the net despite a furious attack on the Tanner’s goal while at the other end, the visitors netted the game-winner off a direct kick. The hero for Peabody was goalie Paul Drilon who stood on his head in the final 40 minutes including a twisting save off a deflection near the end of the game to preserve the clean sheet.

Belmont’s season saw first year Head Coach Niman Kenkre bringing up players from the junior varsity to fill the injuries and illnesses that left half of his veteran varsity players on the sideline at one time or another. He gave especial praise to Charlie November, his senior defender who was injured for a good part of the season but continued to push his teammates from the sideline and in practice.

Volleyball: A trip into the recesses of far-away Sudbury saw Belmont push the Lincoln-Sudbury Regional Warriors in the final two sets before falling in three, 25-16, 25-23, 25-23. Belmont came into the match on a seven-game losing streak which will have to end next campaign as the squad could not find that final push to take a set.

Seniors Katherine Bai (9 kills in the game/125 season kills), Megan Kornberg (17 digs vs. L/S, 330 for the season and 16 serve receptions) and setter extraordinaire Andy Li (227 assists in the season) were outstanding in their final high school game while underclass players Sophia Liu (117 kills), Ava Dolan (209 assists) and Isabella Radojevic (96 kills, 196 digs and 57 service aces) will be coming back in 2022.

Thank You, Power Ranking: Three Belmont Teams Make Their State Tourneys Under New System

Photo: Belmont High Girls’ Volleyball starts tourney play on Nov. 4

Jen Couture, Belmont High Volleyball head coach, was joking – a bit – when discussing her team as it wrapped up the 2021 fall season last week.

“Best 7-11 team ever, huh?” she said.

In fact, Belmont IS the best 7-11 volleyball team, at least, in the context that the Marauders will be taking its below .500 record into the MIAA Division 1 state tournament. Just two years ago, a similar “losing” season would have seen the team packing their uniforms early. But in 2021, Volleyball is joining Field Hockey (6-10-0) and Boys’ Soccer (6-9-3) into the playoff brackets with a more defeats than victories to their names.

What gives?

The reason a trio of Belmont squads have a chance make some post season noise is the new process instituted this year by the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association. For the first time, teams are not judged by their win/loss records but ranked under a formula that considers how strong each opponents’ schedule is and the team’s average margin of victory. Under this system, playing well against top ranked teams is rewarded even if your team suffers losses during the season while defeating weak squads by a small margin could see you tumble in the rankings.

The Division 1 tournament for Belmont’s fall teams starts on Thursday, Nov. 4 with Volleyball at 10th seed Lincoln-Sudbury Regional (14-6) at 4:30 p.m. and then the 28th ranked Boys Soccer (6-9-3) hosting Peabody (8-8-1) at 7 p.m. Field Hockey (30th ranked at 6-10) ventures up Route 2 to meet its traditional pre-season opponent third-seed Concord-Carlisle (16-1-1) on Friday, Nov. 5 at 5 p.m.

The overall ranking decides if a team is one of the 32 teams that make the playoffs and their seeding in the tournament. A team’s win/loss record only comes into the mix if a squad is outside the top 32 but has a winning – above .500 – record. And then they are required to meet one of the lowest seeds, starting with the 32nd ranked team in a play-in match.

If the MIAA had followed the playoff criteria from previous years based on a team’s victories and defeats, every Belmont’s fall team – boys’ golf and girls’ swimming state championships are determined at single event meets and matches – would have failed to make the tournament.

Belmont’s teams benefited from being in a very competitive conference, the Middlesex League, with a number of strong teams. For example, Field Hockey faced three of the top 12 teams in the state twice during the season. Because the three top teams have very high ratings, just playing them is important in making the tournament. In their second games against Winchester and Arlington, Belmont kept the margin of victory of their opponents to less than the three – which is the maximum amount the ranking will count for or against a team – which prevented the Marauders from slipping out of the tournament as they placed 30th.

For volleyball, the new system doesn’t punish the team ending the season on one of the most brutal seven match losing streaks in team history, five of those losses going the distance, 3 sets to 2. But due to the tough schedule it faced, Belmont is ranked 23rd, one place higher than Natick High (10-4), three better than Wellesley (11-6) and five notches greater than Bridgewater-Raynham which finished the year at 12-5.

Boys soccer also found itself on the wrong end of an early season seven game bad beat, which in previous seasons would have been fatal to its chances making the playoffs. But a win against Winchester and two memorable ties vs top-ranked Melrose and Arlington saw the Marauders slide in seeded 28th with a play in game to come.

Yet losing to underrated teams or playing a slew of weak squads has dashed the fortunes of Girls Soccer (5-6-5) and Belmont High Football. Belmont’s Hall of Fame Girls Soccer Head Coach Paul Graham lamented his team’s losses to “small schools” Wakefield and Stoneham – those in the Middlesex League Freedom division – which the Marauders would traditionally skim by. A 1-1 tie against three-win Watertown, which hadn’t scored a goal against Belmont in 30 years, and a 5-0 home defeat against Arlington in the season finale was just enough to place the Marauders 34th in Division 1, the first team that missed the tournament as the 33rd placed squad had a better than .500 record and is in a play-in game.

While the football team (4-4) has had a great start to the season, the four wins came against opponents with a combined record of 3-28, which put the Marauders behind the eight ball early. And while Belmont finished the regular season with a one-point loss to 6-1 Woburn, they lost big to middle-of-the-road Wakefield (4-3) and Arlington (3-4) which saw them fall to 25th where the first 16 in Division 2 made the post season.

After Strong Finish, Belmont Volleyball Meets 2nd Ranked Quincy In Tourney Opener

Photo: Belmont senior Jenna Crowley serving against Arlington.

On Seniors Night against Arlington, Belmont High Volleyball’s Jenna Crowley was ready to shake off some late-season rustiness against the SpyPonders.

“I’ve been struggling a little bit serving lately and I asked our coach if I could serve today,” asked Crowley.

“She asked ‘are you ready?’ and I was like, ‘Yeah, I’m 100 percent ready because I was 100 percent in control‘,” said as the senior middle blocker/outside hitter led the Marauders to a three-set sweep of the visiting SpyPonders, 25-17, 25-16, 25-10, on the last game she’d be playing on her Wenner Field House home court.

Belmont High Volleyball seniors

“No one was down today, everyone had a smile on their faces, the crowd was hyped because everyone wanted this one. It was like a perfect night for a perfect game,” she said.

That strong second half of the season saw Belmont through to an 11-8 record and the 7th seed in the Division 1 Central/East sectionals. They will travel to second-ranked Quincy High School to take on the 18-2 Presidents in a quarterfinal match on Monday, Nov. 4 at 6:30 p.m.

Against Arlington, Crowley would serve without and error and in the third set went on a nine-win run from the backline. But it was her play at the net – including five solo kills and nine in-close digs – that helped Belmont dominate the match with a series of blocks on Belmont’s serve that kept the score running in the Marauders’ favor.

Crowley and the rest of the starting core have stepped up their game in the final weeks of the season.

“We’ve had a lot of good games even the ones we’ve lost I feel we played well,” said Head Coach Jenn Couture after the Arlington match.

“I think things have been clicking a lot more and the team just needed a little bit of time to develop the chemistry with some of the new players,” said Couture, noting the team’s 3-2 loss (15-13 in the fifth set) to a 13-7 Reading team “where we played really consistent and aggressive for the entire game.”

After starting strong in its first two games of the season, the Marauders found themselves facing a league in which each team has gained experience in playing the game.

A three-game stretch turned the season around starting with an epic five-set come-from-behind victory at Burlington. The Devils, who would finish the season 16-4, dominated the first two sets only for the Marauders to take the final three (18, 23, 8) for the big win.

Against Burlington, senior libero Sophia Estok served 18 times with an error, dug the ball out 31 times and had 30 returns of serve to spark the defense. Sophomore Katherine Bai (12) and senior Emily Sabina (11) led in kills while senior setter Mindee Lai handed out 35 assists while handling the ball 169 times with only two miscues.

Belmont’s talent serving and at the net will likely where the Marauders will take advantage of the Quincy match. For Crowley and her teammates, the thoughts of not going to the state tourney were out of the question, even when the team was going through its mid season bad patch.

“It was close but we made it and we have to take the mentality we had [on Seniors night] of just playing smart but also playing hard,” she said.

Volleyball Takes Lessons From Battles With State’s Top Programs

Photo: Belmont’s Nena Trifunovic breaks through the block of Melrose.

Let’s start with the “bad” news this past week: Belmont High’s volleyball team dropped its first two games this season. The “good” news: It can be competitive with a pair of the top programs in the state, “top” as in squads in the Boston Globe’s Top 20 poll.

After losing to perennial Middlesex League powerhouse Melrose (ranked 8th) 3-1, last Monday, Sept. 16 to drop from the unbeaten, the Marauders spent Friday in Winchester (3rd ranked) where they fought a spirited, but losing battle with the Sachems by an identical, 3-1, score.

“I came in knowing it was going to be a fight against both [teams],” said Jen Couture, Belmont’s head coach. “I was hoping that [the team] would rise to the challenge. And they did because what I saw was some of the best volleyball we’ve played.”

Belmont faced two teams that are some of the best in the state: Melrose was a sectional semifinalist last year and a state finalist in 2017 while Winchester has turned on the afterburners this season having pummeled Barnstable – a state finalist, state semifinalist and state champions in the past three years – 3-1 earlier in the year.

In each of its matches, the Marauders would take a rare set from both squads – only the second time that has happened this season to Winchester, winning 25-22 – while remaining competitive thought the games.

Leading Belmont were co-captains Mindee Lai, Sophia Estok and Nena Trifunovic who stepped up with outstanding service games, “the most consistent we’ve been serving wise this season,” Couture said after the Winchester game.

Belmont’s Katherine Bai (4) at the net vs. Melrose.

Adding to Belmont’s attack is rising star sophomore Katherine Bai who is second to Lai in kills with a kill ratio of 43 percent.

If there was one area that Belmont has some work to do setting up its blocking against opponents with taller frontline attackers. “We keep tweaking the lineup every game to adjust it based on the opponent. It keeps evolving,” Couture said.

Belmont would not leave the week empty handed defeating previously unbeaten Lexington at home on Wednesday in a match that was as exciting as it was close, 3 sets to 2, going to 15-12 in the final set.

After dispatching quickly of the Minutemen in the first set and a more competitive second, Lexington, behind its big hitter Taylor Salerno, took control in the third and fourth sets to extend the game into a final fifth set.

In the decider, Trifunovic produced three winners at the net and Lai’s pinpoint serving gave Belmont an early 6-1 lead. Lexington’s blocking along with Salerno’s playmaking brought the Minutemen back to a 10 all tie. But Belmont would take the next four points – with Estok serving an ace at 12-10 – to secure the win.

“A game like this gives the team a confidence boost,” said Trifunovic. “Lexington was undefeated coming here so now we know that we can play these intense five sets against very good teams.”

“But next time we’ll keep it to three sets,” Trifunovic said.

Belmont Fall Sports Starts With Solid Wins For Volleyball, Boys’ Soccer

Photo: Belmont High School Volleyball’s Mindee Lai attacking the net.

Belmont High athletics started the 2019 Fall Sports season on Thursday, Sept. 5 with a pair of solid home outings.

Volleyball Cage Wildcats In Straight Sets

In its season opening victory over Wilmington High, Belmont High’s Volleyball squad showed that it has just as much or even more talent on the court in 2019 than last year when it made its way to the Division 1 Central/East Sectional finals against eventual state champs Newton North.

Belmont swept the Wildcats 3-0 (25-11, 25-17, 25-10) in the first game in the Wenner Field House that is adjacent to the construction site of the new Middle and High School.

“I’m really happy with the way they played,” said Belmont Head Coach Jennifer Couture, who led her team in the season opener less than two weeks after giving birth to her daughter.

Belmont’s Sam Lim setting for her teammates.

“I think that everybody just went all out and they weren’t afraid of making mistakes. There’s still stuff for us to work on like communication, but I think, overall, the team played really aggressive,” she said.

Where Belmont has gained from last year is the addition of a second setter. Senior setter Mindee Lai now has junior Sam Lim who can take over setting up attacks, allowing her to play outside and use her hitting skills.

“Those two centers gives us a lot of options and lets us do a lot of different things we couldn’t last year,” Couture said.

Marauder Jenna Crowley sets up for a block.

Couture also pointed out senior libero Sophie Estok who came up with 12 digs and sophomore Megan Kornberg who “really stood out in her varsity debut. She played with a lot of confidence. Great passing great hitting.”

Boys’ Soccer Strikes Quick vs Wilmington

The Belmont High Boys’ Soccer got off to a fast start in the new season as they struck early in each half to defeat Wilmington, 2-0, in the season debut.

Senior Jon Brabo opened the scoring campaign with a strike eight minutes into the first half (assist from sophomore Mateo Estrada Donahue) while Will Kilavatitu entered the scoring column with a goal after only two and a half minutes into the second half (fellow junior Ali Noorouzi assisting) to give Belmont all the edge it needed as senior goalie Finbar Rhodes earned the clean sheet with five saves.

“This is a very likable group,” said Head Coach Brian Bisceglia-Kane of his team that saw a good number of senior players graduate in June.

“It’s a youngis squad, but we have a mature group of juniors, which is why I think it works. They really matured a lot from sophomore into junior year,” he said.

It’s one game, but I think they showed what they’ve been working on moving the ball and we had a bunch of scoring chances in the game,” said Bisceglia-Kane.

Girls’ Soccer Trip To Wilmington Less Than Welcoming

A young Belmont High Girls’ Soccer squad surrendered a goal in each half to host Wilmington and were shutout in its season opener, 2-0. The Marauders get back in action on Tuesday, Sept. 10 at Harris Field vs. Stoneham.

Belmont Volleyball Falls To Powerhouse Newton North In Sectional Finals

Photo: Belmont High Volleyball Captains (from left) Leah Barbroudi, Jane Mahon and Mindee Lai along with Athletic Director Jim Davis and Head Coach Jen Couture with the runners up trophy.

At least the Belmont High School volleyball team could smile coming off the court at Wellesley High School early Saturday morning, Nov. 10. 

In the team’s historic season – a record 18 wins and a place in the Central East Division 1 sectional finals – the players and coaches have met a number of very good teams. On Saturday, they met a program that has dominated the Central East for more than a decade. Number one seed Newton North, who just happened to be last year’s Division 1 state champions, had won six consecutive sectional titles and was looking for its seventh against the Marauders.

“We knew it would be a challenge,” said Head Coach Jen Couture. “They are simply a great team.” 

After an impressive 3-1 set victory over second seed North Quincy in Wednesday’s semifinals, Couture believed her team had to transition its strengths on the defensive side of the ledger to scoring quickly against a Tiger team that brought back most of last year’s state title team.

And while Belmont had its moments, especially in the third set led by setter Mindee Lai and senior middle Jane Mahon, the power and skills built into the Tigers DNA was far too much for the Marauders to overcome as Belmont fell to Newton North, 3-0 (25-12, 25-11, 25-15), in a display of power and tactics.

The one person on Newton North who dominated the match was senior Ashley Wang, a strong and tall player who was not only adept at the net where she was deadly with her kill attempts but also quick on defense. Her service game was “on” in the first set when she went on an eight-point run to take the Tigers from a 7-4 lead to a 15-4 advantage. Wang’s skill to drive serves to vacant spots on the floor forced Belmont to place four players on the back line.

Joining Wang in pushing Belmont was senior Chelsea Simmons – who is a teammate with Wang and three other Tigers on a successful Newton-based AAU-type club – who was one of the morning’s most impressive blockers, while stepping in as setter and taking the ball down the line as an opposite hitter. 

Belmont did demonstrate a strong defensive game but the offense was hampered by the Tigers dominate front three which threw up walls of blockers against Belmont. 

The Tigers built an early second set lead at 7-2 and stretched it to 16-5, Belmont began putting up some effective blocking, including senior Gabby Viale stopping Wang one-on-one at the net. But Newton North was too strong on the offense, always looking for the quick kill. 

After going down 11-4 in the third, Belmont started its best rally chipping away with some strong net play to reduce the lead to 16-13 after a big block by Mahon and 17-14 from a Viale floater that just dropped inside the line. But once again, Newton North had so many options to go on a seven point run to extend the lead to 24-15. The final point found Belmont tied up in the net and Newton North getting ready to take on undefeated Lawrence in the state semifinals.

“[Newton North] was a fun team to play. It was the best serving we’ve seen all year,” said Couture. “By the third set, we showed them why we are here. But ultimately, we were overpowered as they were hitting to great spots to beat us.” 

Couture said reaching a sectional final should be a great motivator for future players in the program.

“No more should Belmont just settle with making the state tourament but to see us winning championships. I hope this game opens doors at some point where we no longer look at ourselves as underdogs,” she said.

Belmont High Volleyball To Sectional Championship After Dispatching N Quincy

Photo: Senior Jane Mahon winning a point blocking a kill attempt at the net.

Belmont High Volleyball’s historic run continues as the 3rd seeded Marauders are heading for the Central East Sectional Finals after defeating North Quincy, 3 sets to 1, (27-25, 25-17, 20-25, 25-22) in the semifinals on Wednesday, Nov. 7. 

Belmont (18-3) will meet top-seed Newton North (14-2) on Saturday, Nov. 10 at 10 a.m. at Wellesley High School. With a win, the Marauders will secure its first-ever sectional crown in program history.

The Marauders came up big in its strength, defense from the back and at the net along with outstanding serving, to defeat North Quincy which in many ways mirrored Belmont’s tactics.

Belmont started the game tentatively falling behind 23-18 before a solid service run by senior defensive specialist Leah Babroudi brought the score level at 23. Down to set point at 24-25, Belmont took the first set on a North Quincy service error and a tip at the net by senior middle Jane Mahon.

North Quincy trailed throughout the second set as both teams went on long service runs with Belmont’s sophomore opposite hitter Kat Cosic hitting a pair of aces as she scored four points to up the Marauder lead to 16-7. Playing an outstanding game both serving and on the back line, junior outside hitter Nena Trifunovic ran down many “free” hits and kill attempts.

In the third set, North Quincy’s star senior captain and outside hitter Alexandra Qose stepped up as her teammates set her up for several crosscourt kills as Belmont appeared to need a breather.

The fourth set was close early with Belmont up 10-9 when they went on a small run to build a three-point lead, 18-15, after sophomore opposite setter Sam Lin’s hit broke a two-player block. Mahon then increased the lead by scoring on a little floater and then won a one-on-one block against Qose. North Quincy got close to the delight of their loud fan base to 23-22 but a net ball on their serve allowed Belmont to win the final point. 

Girls Tourney Bound: Soccer, Field Hockey, Volleyball Earn Tickets To Postseason [VIDEO]

Photo: Belmont High Girls Soccer, pictured below are securing another trip to the Division 2 North playoffs.

It was quite a week for three of Belmont High girls’ fall season teams as each secured playoff spots in the coming state MIAA tournament.

Within a few minutes of each other on Monday, Oct. 8, Girls’ Soccer and Field Hockey punched their tickets to the postseason while Volleyball completed its task on Wednesday, Oct. 10.

After a pair of losses – a heartbreaker, 3-2, at Woburn after leading 2-0 at the half and a 4-0 rout at Winchester – left the team at 2-2-1 early in the season, Girls’ Soccer has rattled off five straight wins including a 3-1 home victory on Columbus Day to see its season extended. While not raking up the goals, the Marauders have been efficient in their games, using senior center forward Ella Gagnon as the cornerstone of the offense with speedsters senior Morgan Krauss and youngster Jenna Thomas (a pair of hat-tricks for the sophomore) creating opportunities on the wings. 

Since clinching the playoffs, Belmont took its revenge on Woburn, defeating the Tanners, 2-1, on Wednesday, Oct. 10 to extend its winning streak to seven and currently in second place in the Middlesex Liberty division with a 9-2-1 record. They will take on Lexington on Tuesday, Oct. 16 before meeting up with league leader Winchester at home on Thursday, Oct. 18.

Field Hockey came into its annual match with perennial Division 2 state champions Watertown on a seven-game winning streak. The night game on Oct. held at Belmont’s Harris Field saw the Marauders come out and controlled the match, dominating possession, especially in the second half, ending the game with 11 shots on goal and a 13 to 1 margin in penalty corners. The one area they didn’t hold an advantage over Watertown was on the scoreboard as the Raiders tallied on both of their two shots of the game in a two-minute stretch in the final five minutes of the first half, defeating the disappointed hosts, 2-0.

To make the playoffs, Belmont had to take a trip to an improving Wakefield High team and came away with a solid 2-0 win with senior co-captain Jordan Lettiere scoring both times to continue her hot stick at the inner forward position.

After reaching the playoffs, Belmont traveled Wednesday, Oct. 10 to the environs of Lexington to battle it out with a very good Minuteman squad. Starting at 6:30 p.m. (on a school night!) on a field – situated on the border of a mosquito-infested swamp – apparently illuminated by mood lights as no one could see the ball. In an evenly fought battle, Lexington took advantage of the not so common “man” advantage when the refs called Belmont’s junior Emma Donahue, the team’s top defender, for a push then sent off junior Katie Guden, the squad’s leader, for not respecting the five-meter space when the ball is restarted. And the Minutemen scored both times as Belmont’s best players were sitting by the scorer’s desk, winning 2-0, as the Marauders had to contend with the odd custom in Lexington of allowing dogs to wander along the sidelines.

Belmont, which defeated Woburn, 8-0, on Friday, Oct. 12 will have its rematch with Lexington on Wednesday, Oct. 17 with the winner in control to capture the Middlesex League Liberty title. This game played during the day, sans the threat of malaria and without mutts on the field. 

After just making the playoffs last year, Volleyball’s goal this year was a return act. And Belmont got there, but even faster than they thought, reaching its 10th win in just 12 games as the Marauders swept Wayland, 3-0, in an out-of-league match on Wednesday, Oct. 10. Led by kill specialist Jane Mahon (who is leading the Middlesex League) , and a pair of three year junior starters; setter Mindee Lai and libero Sophia Estok, Belmont was pushed in each of the three sets including having an 11-0 service run against them in the third to fall behind 21-20. But good digging and returning from the back line as well as a few unforced errors on the part of the Warriors allowed the Marauders to take the win.

After defeating Woburn on Friday, Oct. 12, Belmont, at 11-2,. will host Lexington on Tuesday, Oct. 17.