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Nipmuc Volleyball Eyes Postseason Return

The Nipmuc girls' volleyball team is fresh off a postseason appearance a year ago, and head coach Brian Gerard feels this year's squad has a great chance to equal, or eclipse, what the Warriors were able to do in 2016.
"We have a nice mix of seniors and younger players, I think we are about 50-50 as far as people who have been in the program and those new to the varsity team," Gerard said. "I think our athleticism has improved, and I think our chances to get back to the postseason are just as good as they were last year."
Nipmuc finished 14-7 a season ago, falling to Ashland in the first round of the district tournament. The team welcomes back a number of key contributors from last year, including motivated senior middle hitter Emily MacKay.
"She is definitely our team leader hitting out of the middle, she just brings a great energy to the team," Gerard said. "She is invested, I think, in making this team better and in leaving her mark when she graduates at the end of the year."
Fellow senior Megan Drew has been battling injuries over the past two years. A thumb injury limited her 2016 season, and she missed the season opener due to a pulled quad. Gerard said, when healthy, Drew will be one of the team's most consistent hitters.
"She is probably our hardest hitter," he said, "she brings the hammer when she swings."
Sophomore Taylor Johnson has moved up to the varsity this season and made a significant impact from behind the service line in the Warriors' season-opening win over Southbridge. Down a game and trailing by four points in the second set, Johnson rattled off six aces to give Nipmuc a lead it would not relinquish.
Sophomore Faith Caughey is back after starting as an outside hitter last year, and "brings tremendous athleticism to the game with her serving and defense," Gerard said.
Junior Robin Dupre had been eyed for the setter position, but has found a home as a defensive specialist instead while freshman Zoe Morrison takes the role of quarterbacking the offense.
"She has some of the sweetest hands as a setter I have seen anywhere in our league," Gerard said. "She is a freshman, so she is raw, but she can be one of our stars."
After beginning the year with a 3-2 win over Southbridge, the Warriors return to the court Monday at Grafton.




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