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Nipmuc Volleyball Following Up on 2016 Success

The Nipmuc Girls volleyball team is set to make another appearance in the district tournament, and head coach Brian Gerard feels like his team is in position to exceed the unprecedented success the team enjoyed last season.
"The last couple of weeks, we have made a couple of changes to personnel in terms of keeping kids on the court and we have made a good progression," Gerard said. "I really, truly think we are peaking at the right time."
Nipmuc began the week 14-5 overall, already equaling the program's record for wins in a single season, which was set last year. The Warriors have locked up a second straight trip to the playoffs after qualifying for the first time last season, and Gerard said the turnaround started with a midseason loss to Whitinsville Christian.
"Whitinsville Christian came in and beat us, but it was such an exciting match and I was very happy with the way we played," Gerard said, referencing the October 11 loss. "From that point on, the energy level has picked up and the productivity from our hitters has also increased, that's been a huge help."
Senior Emily MacKay and sophomore Taylor Johnson have formed a consistent presence in the middle of the floor, Gerard said.
"The two of them have kept us where we are with their front row play," he said. "And Taylor is probably one of the better servers in the league. For a sophomore to have a jump serve is pretty impressive."
Nipmuc rattled off five straight wins heading into the final week of the season and did not drop a single set in any of them. Added production from the outside hitters has been a key to the success, Gerard said.
"I had been grooming Johanna Nilson for the middle, but she asked to hit outside," he said. "So I said 'let's put you out there and see what you can do.' Because of her height, she has been contacting the ball well above the net."
Senior right side hitter Megan Drew is "probably the strongest kid on the court," the coach added.
"She has been very productive," Gerard said. "And she has good hands so, if the setter takes the first ball, I know she will give us a good set."
With a spot in the district tournament already locked up, Nipmuc will have its sights set on clearing the high bar set last year.
"Hopefully we will get a home playoff match," Gerard said, referencing what would be another program first. "Our next goal will be to get through the first round."




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