High schools: Winnisquam’s DeBlasie finishes 1 assist shy of milestone in win

  • Winnisquam co-captain Talia DeBlasie with her signature set up during the match against Belmont on Wednesday September 6, 2017. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Winnisquam co-captain Talia DeBlasie celebrates after a point against Belmont on Wednesday as the Bears picked up a 3-0 victory over the Raiders in Tilton. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff

  • Winnisquam co-captain Talia DeBlasie strikes the ball against Belmont Wednesday September 6, 2017. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Winnisquam co-captain Talia DeBlasie digs out a ball during the Bears’ 3-0 victory over Belmont on Wednesday in Tilton. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff

  • Winnisquam teammates watch as Talia DeBlasie sets up against Belmont on Wednesday September 6, 2017. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

Monitor staff
Thursday, September 07, 2017

TILTON – Her teammates did everything they could. Sensing time was running out during the final set of Wednesday’s rivalry match against Belmont, every strike was hit with a little more force and any extra chance to get the ball in the hands of setter Talia DeBlasie was taken.

But the Winnisquam volleyball co-captain will have to wait at least one more game for her milestone.

DeBlasie, who entered the season 49 assists shy of 1,000 for her career, needed 22 on Wednesday to become the 31st high school player in New Hampshire to reach the mark. Instead, the senior finished with 21 assists, putting the celebration on hold temporarily.

“The funny thing is I didn’t know about it. I knew how many I needed but I didn’t know that the girls were working for it for like 10 points,” said DeBlasie, who added two kills for Winnisquam in its 3-0 home victory over Belmont. “I knew going into the first game that I only needed 49, and judging from the stats I knew how many I needed, but during the game I don’t keep track of it.”

It will be hard for DeBlasie not to keep track of the first assist she records on Monday at Trinity – one that will officially push her into the record books.

“Honestly, records don’t mean a lot to me. I try to work for my team. … It’s more about the team. It’s just a number,” DeBlasie said. “Of course I’ll probably think about it a little, but I’m the type of person to kind of just go with things.”

DeBlasie’s words were a reflection of Winnisquam Coach Mike Livernois’s team-first approach. Of course every player and coach on the bench wanted to see DeBlasie finish the job inside the same gym where she’s worked tirelessly over the last four seasons, but not at the cost of the bigger picture.

“It was a team goal, but it wasn’t the most important goal,” Livernois said of the milestone. “The most important team goal for this game was to play well. (Belmont) is an improved team and we have to go there for their homecoming. ... We know they’re going to be pumped up to play us and so one of the things we really talked about was setting a tone for this game so when you go there next time, they’re not licking their chops going, ‘Oh we can beat them. We can beat them.’ ”

Wednesday was Belmont Coach Adam Gaulin’s first introduction to the spirited rivalry between the two programs, and the first-year coach from Maine was pleased with what he saw in the Raiders’ season opener. Belmont played at its best in the opening set, eventually losing 25-17 before dropping the final two games, 25-5 and 25-10.

“For the first game, this is absolutely what I wanted to see,” Gaulin said. “We got flat in the second game and it kind of carried over into the third. … I’m learning quickly but it was fun. I finally got my first game under my belt so it will be a good season. I’m looking forward to it and I have a great group of girls so I’m excited.”

The Raiders were anchored by a trio of players in the loss, including libero Amber Lemay (19 digs, three aces), Jordan Lavallee (five digs, three kills) and Chantelle Martin (two kills, three blocks).

But it wasn’t enough to slow down a seasoned Winnisquam team with Division III championship expectations.

Despite a slow start for the Bears in the first set, they eventually found their footing, riding the strength of five of Gabby Isabella’s team-high 13 kills and closing the game out on a 6-2 run before hitting their stride in the second.

Winnisquam built up a 6-3 lead in the second set and took off.

Shannon Goodwin (six kills, six digs) went on a service run of 15 straight points before finally breaking with a misfire and the duo of Isabella and DeBlasie finished off an overpowering set with three kills. The third set was all Winnisquam as well, charging ahead 18-6 before eventually ending things, 25-10.

“Anytime you can beat somebody by 10 or seven, you’ve really controlled the match,” Livernois said. “But the first one, we just never got into a rhythm and volleyball is a game of rhythm. When you don’t get into a rhythm, it’s just really weird.”

With wins over Mascenic and now Belmont – both playoff teams in 2016 – Livernois is enjoying watching his new group operate on the court.

“I like the balance of our offense and that’s what we were missing last year,” Livernois said. “(Goodwin) had a great run but when she went to the back row we lost our offense. So I think that’s the major difference for us.”

(Jay McAree can be reached at 369-3371, jmcaree@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @JayMcAree.)


John Stark 3, ConVal 1

Key players: John Stark – Haley Philibotte (30 digs, 7 aces), Sara Medvetz (9 kills, 3 blocks, 8 aces), Nicole Yelle (23 assists, 14 aces)

Highlights/key moments: The Generals led the whole way in the first set to claim a 25-20 win. They followed that up with their best set of the season, which ended in a 25-13 win. ConVal took the third by a two-point margin, but Stark closed things out in the fourth, 25-18, behind the passing and serving of Philibotte and some great kills from Medvetz and Sarah Wagner.

Coach’s quote: “It was great to get the win tonight, and we played very well in the second set. We need to maintain our poise and energy if we want to keep on winning.” – Stark’s Jeff McClellan

Records: John Stark 1-1, ConVal 0-2

Laconia 3, Kennett 0

Key players: Laconia – Hannah Dow (8 aces, 8 kills, 7 digs), Maddy Todd (5 aces, 5 kills, 9 digs)

Coach’s quote: “Our girls are really playing well as a team and we were able to keep our momentum going for the game this evening. Our service was excellent as we were able to put together 26 service aces as a team.” – Laconia’s Jeff Twombly

Records: Laconia 2-0; Kennett 0-2

Coe-Brown 3, Kingswood 0

Key players: Coe-Brown – Jadlyn Newport (24 assists, 16-for-16 serving, 3 aces), Amaya Newport (13 kills), Maggie Sylvester (9 kills)

Highlights/key moments: The Bears claimed a 25-21, 25-18, 25-18 win in their home opener.

Records: Coe-Brown 2-0; Kingswood 0-1

Mascenic 3, Franklin 0

Key players: Franklin – Lexy Lynch (4 blocks, 2 aces, kill)

Coach’s quote: “We played very well for the first game of the season. We have been working on our net play and it paid off tonight.” – Franklin’s Stephanie Shepard

Records: Franklin 0-1; Mascenic 1-1

Pittsfield 3, Portsmouth Christian 1

Key players: Pittsfield – Arianna Cyr (15 kills, 6 digs), Emma Smith (15 digs, 4 aces, 8 kills), Emily Dunagin (14 digs, 9 assists)

Highlights/key moments: Pittsfield was able to string together points in the first, third and fourth sets to claim a season-opening 25-23, 23-25, 25-20, 25-19 win on the road.

Coach’s quote: “The girls have been playing together for several years now, and the dividends are beginning to show. The whole team put in great efforts at their positions to secure the win.” – Pittsfield’s Paul Strickhart

Records: Pittsfield 1-0; Portsmouth Christian 1-1


Newfound 5, White Mountains 0

Key players: Newfound – Jasmine Peterson (goal, assist), Julianne Marchand (goal, 2 assists), Caroline Marchand (2 goals) Tiffany Doan (goal), Savanna Bony (assist)

Highlights/key moments: Marchand, Peterson and Bony created offensive chances for their teammates and themselves all game long as the Bears rolled to the road win.

Coach’s quote: “We are continuing to work on the little things to improve. If we can get to a point to connect on crosses in front of the cage we will be able to open games up.” – Newfound’s Karri Peterson

Records: Newfound 3-0; White Mountains 1-1


Pittsfield 10, Nute 0

Key players: Pittsfield – Cameron Darrah (4 goals), Garrett Guerrero-Hadley (4 goals), Jah Gordon (first varsity goal), Matt St. George (goal)

Coach’s quote: “We controlled play from start to finish. We did a good job of holding possession and creating quality scoring opportunities.” – Pittsfield’s Derek Hamilton

Records: Pittsfield 3-1; Nute 0-3


Merrimack Valley first

Key players: MV – Emma York (2nd, 23:24), Noelle Colarusso (5th, 25:43), Kaitlyn Covell (6th, 26:10), Maizie Thurber-Wells (7th, 26:17), Lauren Rouse (10th, 27:19)

Highlights/key moments: The Pride (30 points) won a three-team meet over Lebanon (43) and Plymouth (53). The boys’ race was cancelled due to thunderstorms.

Coach’s quote: “The girls ran well in tough conditions, high heat and humidity. Kaitlyn ran a great race, moving up consistently throughout, as did MV’s sixth runner, Madisyn Garrity.” – MV’s Dave Irving