By Bob York –
“We played exceptionally well in spurts,” explained John Pineo, the coach of the Deerfield Academy girls volleyball team. “The trouble was, we were unable to play that way consistently.” So, the bottom line on the Big Green’s inconsistency this fall read 7-10.
“Overall, I thought our record would be a little better than it was,” added the Deerfield mentor, “considering we had seven players returning from last year’s (6-8) team. And I think you’d find that every one of those girls expected we’d do better as well.”
When Deerfield played what Pineo would consider “exceptionally well,” his charges clicked on all cylinders and chalked up six of their seven wins by commanding scores of 3-0 over such foes as Worcester, Milton, Hopkins, Williston, Nobles and Marianapolis, plus a 3-1 over Taft.
“We came up with some real strong efforts in a few of our losses, too,” added Pineo. “In fact, there were four games in which we forced teams to a fifth game who ended up going on to postseason play.”
The Big Green extended eighth-seeded Northfield Mount Hermon School to five games during both of their meetings this season before watching the Big Red walk off both times with 3-2 decisions. Deerfield also forced fifth-ranked Andover to five games, as was the case with Pomfret, which would later go on to capture the NEPSAC’s Class B crown.
The top four seeds that moved onto the Class A tournament all proved too much for the Big Green as they all chalked up 3-0 sweeps, including top seed Choate, which ended up capturing the Class A pennant by knocking off second ranked Loomis in the title match, 3-1.
Loomis pinned a 3-0 loss on Deerfield during regular season play, as did both St. Paul’s and Exeter, the third and fourth seeds respectively. Hotchkiss, the seventh seeded team, earned a 3-1 over the Big Green.
Heading up this season’s squad was a trio of seniors, including co-captains Caroline Dye and Kate Ginna, both outside hitters, as well as Caroline Baldwin, a setter.
Claire Collins (15), a middle hitter and blocker who, along with Catherine Fleming (15) will serve as co-captains of next year’s team, proved to be the Big Green’s lone representative on this year’s All-Star team. Serena Ainslie (16), an outside hitter, meanwhile, moved up from last year’s JV team and turned in such a glittering debut on the varsity level that she ended up winning this year’s Coaches’ Award.
Fleming, who was another outside hitter, turned in a strong effort for Deerfield this fall, as did Chloe So (15), who was a defensive specialist. Others who contributed to this year’s effort and who will be among the nine players Pineo will be pinning his hopes on next year are Zahra Rawji (15), Maggie Kidder (16), Ceci Swenson (16), Perry Hamm (17) and Alaina Chen (17).