Volleyball: Concord’s consistent energy carries Tide to win over Nashua South, 4-0 start

By ERIC RYNSTON-LOBEL

Monitor staff

Published: 09-12-2023 11:42 AM

CONCORD – Maria Wimpey might have just four games as a varsity volleyball coach under her belt, but it’s been nothing but a smooth transition for the Concord 2018 graduate coaching at her alma mater. The Tide are now off to a 4-0 start to the season after defeating Nashua South, 3-1 (25-20, 22-25, 25-18, 26-24), on Monday night.

Like the previous three games, Monday’s had its ups and downs for the Tide (4-0). Among the ups, Wimpey said, she was most pleased with the group’s energy.

“We had a little bit of a slow game on Friday, so the energy for this game was 10 times higher,” she said following the win. “We still need to work on those little slumps that we get into of energy being low, but today was the first day that they’ve been able to end it in four and actually have high energy, so it was nice.”

The biggest slump against the Purple Panthers (2-1) came in the third set when the Tide found itself in a 6-0 hole. But after Wimpey took a timeout, Concord fired back with an 18-5 run on its way to winning the set, 25-18.

“We do this thing where we take in a deep breath and let it out,” Wimpey said. “They almost get so excited that they can’t really put anything together, and then once they take that deep breath, it all clicks, and it’s great.”

On the court, Wimpey highlighted the play of junior libero Maddie Mikkelsen and outside hitter Brooke Wyatt. Wyatt, also a junior, led the Tide with 12 kills on Monday. Junior Katie Blinn finished close behind with 11.

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The first-year coach also pointed to the team’s use of a 6-2 offensive setup, with six hitters and two setters, to explain the team’s early success. 

“We have a very big front line, so that’s keeping us in the game a lot and stopping a lot of everything coming over,” she said. “We also have really good players in the back row, so when it does come over, we can get it up. There is some stuff to work on such as the consistency and our setter-hitter connection, but overall, everything's looking really good.”

Success on Monday stemmed in large part from a lack of reliance on just one hitter, forcing the Nashua South players to stay on their toes. With Concord attacking the left, right and middle of the court with regularity, the Purple Panthers couldn’t easily anticipate where the ball would end up.

It was a continuation of the start of Wimpey’s coaching tenure that has surely gone almost as well as she could’ve hoped. But this opportunity for her is more than just a chance to coach where she once played; she sees it as proof of the sport continuing to expand. Coaches she once played against are now coming up to her after games, picking her brain and welcoming her into the coaching ranks.

“I love that because it shows the expansion of volleyball,” Wimpey said. “You have the older generations and the fresh new generations and keeping everyone in the game which is nice.”

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