Volleyball Rallies for Big Comeback with Six Game Winning Streak

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Craig Cieplik

  Almost halfway through the fall sports season, Walpole Volleyball is off to a 6-3 start to the 2016 season. After losing three straight games to begin the season, the Rebels have caught fire and won six straight matches.

  At the helm of this year’s team are senior captains Abby Hile, Andrea Traietti and Kayla Frost. Traietti is leading all of Massachusetts Division 1 with 263 digs so far, and Hile ranks tenth in kills as well as in the top 20 for most blocks this season. Recently, after stepping into a new defensive position Walpole also named Frost player of the match for her play in Walpole’s 3-0 victory against Weymouth.

Also stepping up as an essential key player is sophomore McKenzie Rae, a first year varsity setter. After having a very successful JV career as a freshman, Rae came into the season ready for a starting varsity position. She currently ranks third in Division 1 with 225 assists, and has been a consistently strong player helping to lead the Rebels to their victories.

  “After losing three matches in a row, we realized that we really needed to step it up in order to make tournament,” said Hile. “We became more focused and worked on playing as a team and that has definitely brought us more success.”

  During this six game win streak, Walpole has beaten North Attleboro, Dedham, Needham, Norwood, Natick and Weymouth, respectfully. Hile said that the wins against Natick and Needham have been the most important of the year so far.

“Natick is always a tough team and beating them in three sets was a huge accomplishment for us. Needham was also a huge win because of their undefeated record. Winning these two matches gave us a boost of confidence and showed us that our hard work paid off,” said Hile.

The only losses of the year were at the beginning of the season to Wellesley, Brookline and Milton.

  Joining the varsity coaching staff this year with head coach Lisa Cyr and assistant coach Julie Rooney, Walpole High School math teacher Zachary Okolowitcz became the head coach of the JV team, as well as the hitting instructor for the varsity squad.

  Growing up, Okolowitcz played volleyball at Cranston High School in Cranston, Rhode Island, where he was captain for both his junior and senior seasons. Okolowitcz also played for Assumption College, where he was the captain, president and coach of a competitive volleyball club team.

  With his long history in the sport, Okolowitcz said, “I’ve always been interested in coaching, but there weren’t any chances to do so at my old school, so when the opportunity arose, I jumped on it immediately.”

  The experience of the ten returning varsity players, along with the talent of the five new underclassmen has created a positive new perspective for Rebel volleyball. The team hopes to carry on their winning streak in the second half of the season.