WILMINGTON - The Wilmington High girls’ volleyball team had a lovely winning streak going until last week, where three strong opponents put the Wildcats’ tournament hopes back on their heels.
Wilmington is now 4-8 heading into Tuesday’s non-league match at Everett, where the Wildcats hope to regain their winning ways against the Crimson Tide. Results of that match were not available at presstime.
Throughout the week, Wilmington showed improvement with each match, culminating with two strong sets to finish out a 3-1 loss to Lexington, 25-12, 25-17, 19-25, 25-23.
Wilmington came out extremely flat in the first set, falling behind 5-0 right from the start. The Wildcats made a lot of errors on serve receive, as well as with attacks. Before they knew it, they were down 20-7. They eventually dropped the set, 25-12.
The second set started out about the same way, with Wilmington falling behind 4-1 before rallying to take a 12-11 lead. Once again, a series of serve receive errors and hitting errors led to a 25-17 loss, and an 2-0 deficit.
“We made a small change to the lineup to see if we could improve two weak rotations, and I talked to Julia Willson, our setter, about emphasizing our middle attacks more,” said Wilmington coach Bruce Shainwald. “This combination of changes, along with a renewal of determination made all the difference.”
The third and fourth sets, were much more competitive, including a 25-19 victory in the third, and a down-to-the-wire, 25-23 squeaker in the fourth that gave the Minutemen the match.
“It was a tough loss, but there were some definite highlights,” said Shainwald. “It shows the girls that they can compete when they come to play.”
Wilmington showed its scrappiness with 21 digs, led by Khrystyna Fedynyak with six and Raegan Sweeney with five. Maeve Cadogan was on fire with her serves, accumulating six aces while serving 100 percent on 16 serves. Julia Willson had a good all-around game with 88 percent serving on 17 serves, with an ace. She also had four kills.
On Friday, the Wildcats went up against a strong Arlington squad and lost in straight sets, 25-13, 25-17, 25-22.
Wilmington also struggled in the first two sets in this one before starting to put it together in the third set, only to run out of chances at the end. The Wildcats served at 91% with three aces. Khrystyna Fednyak had one of those aces with her 17 serves, along with four digs. Maeve Cadogan had five of the team’s 14 kills and four digs.
Wilmington got out to an early lead in the first set, leading 10-4 on the strength of a five-serve run by Fedynyak. Unfortunately for the Wildcats, the Spy Ponders got back into the game and took a commanding lead on a couple of strong serving runs of their own. The girls were able to keep in close for the first part of the second set, before once again falling victim to a strong serving run.
In the third set, Wilmington played one their best sets of the season. The lead swung back and forth several times, with neither team able to pull ahead by more than two or three points. Finally, tied, 22-22, Arlington took the last three points to close out the set and the match.
“Despite the loss, we were very happy with the resilience that our Wildcats showed in their determination to play as hard as they did in that last set,” said Wilmington coach Bruce Shainwald. “They continue to grow in their abilities and their emotional fortitude.”
One of the highlights of the match was a play where Julia Willson set Savannah Andersen on a back two, for a kill that took Lexington completely by surprise.
“The bench went wild,” said Shainwald.
The week got off to a modest start, as the Wildcats closed out the first half of the season with a 3-0 loss to Melrose on Wednesday. Wilmington was all over the place in the 25-20, 25-9, 25-17 final at Wilmington Middle School.
The Wildcats served at a sterling 89 percent with three aces, led by Anna Rideout, who served at that rate and had two aces. Maeve Cadogan had 11 digs, nearly half the total of 25 for the team, and freshman Maddie McCarron had three kills.
“Melrose, as usual, is a strong program,” said Shainwald. “The girls came out strong to start the first set, jumping out to a 15-7 lead. Unfortunately, they were unable to keep Melrose out of system, and Wilmington started to make more mistakes.”
The Lady Red Raiders were able to dominate both the second and third sets to earn a straight set victory.
Wilmington will host Woburn on Thursday (5:15 p.m.), back at Wilmington Middle School.