Dominant regular season for Nipmuc Volleyball
The Nipmuc volleyball team clinched the Dual Valley Conference with a perfect league record. Source Coach Brian Gerard
Warriors posted perfect DVC record
By Chris Villani
Nipmuc girls’ volleyball head coach Brian Gerard had an inkling this year’s team was going to be particularly strong after only losing two seniors last year. With nearly his entire team intact, Gerard watched the Warriors win 17 matches in a row, including a perfect 10-0 mark in the Dual Valley Conference.
“We have a lot of girls who play club volleyball, so that really gives them six more months of volleyball between seasons,” he said. “It makes a difference, it really does.”
Nipmuc was so dominant during the regular season, Gerard and the team opted to play in a higher division for the Central Mass tournament so as to better prepare for the MIAA playoffs.
Perhaps the coach’s biggest challenge is figuring out which of his starters has been playing the best.
“I have been blessed this year,” Gerard said. “Take your pick, really.”
Captains Laura Piekarski, the libero; Kate Jukian, the setter; and Dana Schechter, an outside hitter, form what Gerard has dubbed his “power triangle.”
“Laura does the lion’s share of the service receptions and defense, Kate has wonderful hands and runs a wonderful court, and Dana has been lighting it up since her sophomore year,” he said. “At times, she is unstoppable.”
Junior Charlotte St. Pierre and sophomore Kayleigh Fountain have anchored the middle for Nipmuc.
“I haven’t seen two better middles this year,” their coach said.
Outside hitter Lauren Tabakin, a junior, has put together a strong season despite battling an injury. Sophomore right side hitter Annabel Palmer has brought a ferocious swing to the floor.
“She crushes the ball, she just needs a little bit more fine tuning,” Gerard said, adding “I have no complaints about anyone this season.”
Nipmuc has advanced to the final eight of the MIAA state tournament in each of the past two seasons, and the Warriors are aiming a bit higher this year, having set a goal of reaching the final four. Nipmuc has typically competed in Division IV and was bumped up to DIII this fall, but Gerard said he does not think the higher level competition in the states will affect his group, many of whom are seasoned club players.
“If we make it to the final four, we will have reached our goal,” he said. “Anything else, getting to the semifinals or the finals, that’s just icing on the cake for us.”