Rocket volleyball blasts off in Natick

Junior Lila Carr (#24) executes a powerful spike against the Redhawks in the first set.

By Maddie Gerber
Hometown Weekly Intern

The Needham girls varsity volleyball team continues to assert its dominance over the Herget Division, adding another win against Natick to its already impressive undefeated record of 8-0 and officially securing a spot in the post-season. Although the Rockets had already played the Redhawks in their first game of the season and had won handily by 3-0, their second match-up was not as easy.

“They looked like a completely different team,” Needham junior Meg Allen remarked about the Natick squad, noting their significant improvement. However, Allen also noted that the Rockets were “up to the challenge to play them the second time.”

She was absolutely right.

The first set started off slowly for Needham, with the Rockets trailing close behind the Redhawks but struggling to pull into the lead, despite impressive kills by junior Albina Miloshi and senior Olu Ajayi. “I think some of our basics were a little bit off at the beginning,” observed Needham coach Courtney Chaloff. “Our serving was a little bit off. Our passing was a little bit off. Our rally play was nice, but, you know, you need those fundamental pieces in order to have a good game.” Natick managed to secure the first set by a score of 23-25, giving Needham their first lost set of the season.

Needham’s Albina Miloshi (#14), Karen Nie (#3), Sarah Jensen (#9), Daly Johnson (#4), and Olivia Kierstead (#11) celebrate after defeating Natick in the third set, leading them to an eventual 4-1 victory to add to their undefeated record.

Needham’s Albina Miloshi (#14), Karen Nie (#3), Sarah Jensen (#9), Daly Johnson (#4), and Olivia Kierstead (#11) celebrate after defeating Natick in the third set, leading them to an eventual 4-1 victory to add to their undefeated record.

However, the Rockets were undeterred and continued to battle it out in the second set. The scores were tight, with both teams struggling to take a substantial lead until the Redhawks delivered a series of successful points that pushed them ahead and set the tone for the second half of the set. However, when the Redhawks were merely one point away from victory, the Rockets began to show their true potential with an impressive comeback, winning five consecutive points to tie the score at 24-24. In a nail-biting conclusion, Needham managed to take the second set, 26-25.

The third set closely mimicked the second, with both teams remaining extremely close but unable to assert their dominance. However, as the set came to a close, Needham once again showed their incredible tenacity and managed to take it, 25-21.

Riding their momentum from the end of the third set, the Rockets proceeded to absolutely dominate the fourth, delivering masterfully executed points with impressive kills from juniors Lila Carr and Karen Nie. The Redhawks didn’t stand a chance and surrendered the final set to the Rockets, 25-17.

Coach Chaloff was impressed by the team’s tenacity and improvement throughout the game. “Each set we got a little bit better, a little bit cleaner, you know, to pick it up to get the win,” she said. However, she warned the girls against becoming complacent with their undefeated record, reminding them that “every minute that we practice, every play we have, it’s an opportunity, and if we don’t capitalize on those opportunities, then we’re just wasting our time.”

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