Sports

Swampscott volleyball hoping to reach new territory

Swampscott volleyball coach Chip Emery knows his team will work as hard as possible with one goal: to get into the playoffs for the first time since the team?s inception in 2011. To do so, it will compete for a spot atop the Northeastern Conference.
But, it will be difficult with a very big presence gone from the team.
Last year:Swampscott struggled to a 5-12 record.Coaches:Chip Emery and Kevin Doyle will be in their fifth season together. “It says I?m the head coach and Kevin?s the assistant coach. (But,) really that?s not true. We’re coaches,” Emery said.Key players gone:NEC MVP Gina Asipenko has moved on after four brilliant years. “The biggest loss is, of course, Gina Asipenko,” Emery said. “She was the captain all four years here, made the conference All-Star team three times, and was the conference MVP last year.”

Key players this season:Senior captain Tiana Delano lines up at libero, and senior captain Antonia Tucker-Figueroa will be at setter. Junior setter Leanne Nisbet, an All-Star in 2014 is back, as well as senior outside hitter Olivia Carle. Senior middle blocker Maddie Robbins-Lentz returns. Junior Taylor McBurney, who was named the team?s most improved player in 2014, lines up at opposite hitter.
Emery is also expecting big things from underclassmen Katelyn O?Keefe, Caroline Phelan, Elizabeth Rizk, Maise Vasquez, Michaela Phelan and Olivia Kiely, who are making the leap to varsity from the JV.
Strengths:It?s all about the team, Emery said.
?While we are thankful for all of Gina’s contributions to our team, this will be a great opportunity for the Big Blue team,” Emery said.
?All the players understand this season that they will need to work harder and work together supporting each other. There will be no single player to depend on and the whole team is prepared and excited to win and play as a team.”
Question marks:Can the new players jell quickly with the returning players to make the Big Blue competitive and consistent all season as they hunt for the playoffs?Opening game:Swampscott opens the season Tuesday against Saugus.

Big games on the schedule:Swampscott will have a few difficult games including Marblehead on Sept. 24 and at Hamilton-Wenham on Oct. 2.
Coach?s outlook:?We have talent and enthusiasm, and if we play as a team, the whole team we will be hard to play against.”

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