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Nipmuc Volleyball Returns Experienced Group

With only two seniors having graduated from last year's team and a strong corps of players returning from a successful 2017 team, Nipmuc girls' volleyball head coach Brian Gerard sees no reason to lower expectations heading into the new season.
"We are going to be very competitive," Gerard said. "I don't see a drop off from our goals or expectations. I hope the players we have coming back took the time since last November to improve themselves so they can be even stronger this year."
Zoe Morrison returns as the Warriors' setter and Gerard calls her one of the best at her position in the area. "Her hands are so soft and sweet, the ball comes out beautifully," he said. "And she has one of the toughest jump float serves around."
Among the recipients of Morrison's sets will be middle hitter Taylor Johnson. Seemingly undersized for her position, Gerard said her instincts and fast arm more than make up for her being shorter than some of her opposing blockers. "She is a six-position player with a tremendous jump serve and she is tenacious on defense," Gerard said. "She could easily wear a libero jersey."
Gerard recalled a play last year in which Johnson ran through a row of chairs court side to get to a ball, leaving her with a "golf ball" sized bump on her shin.
Faith Caughey, a junior, enters her third season as a starter. Another player who can see time at any spot on the floor, Gerard praised her defense and serve. Mt. St. Charles Academy transfer Johanna Nilson, who hit on the outside last year, won her spot through hard work in practice. She also returns for her junior season. "We had her working out of the middle last year and she asked to try hitting from the outside," Gerard said. "Everything is a competition and if you are the best, you will start. She does not have the most powerful arm but she is great at getting to the ball and keeping it in play."
Gerard said he is not certain whether any of the younger players coming in from middle school will be able to step in and contribute at the varsity level right away. He did say the freshman class was very competitive, however, and figures to add future depth to the program.
Exceeding last year's accomplishments sets a high bar for the Warriors, who won 14 regular season games in 2017 en route to an appearance in the district tournament.




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