Expect the Unexpected: Girls’ Volleyball triumphs


Natasha Singh, Print Manager

After defeating Billerica Memorial High, Westford Academy’s Girls’ Varsity Volleyball team is making their way to the playoffs for the first time in four years.  The progression of the match did not give a clear path as to which team would win. However, through sheer strength, stamina and strategy, the girls fought hard for their win.

While Westford began gaining points in the first set, Billerica kept catching up to match the scores. However, Westford started flying towards 25 after Billerica hit two out-of-bounds spikes and left one open slot into which Westford was given the clear to spike the ball.  Despite being in the lead, 19-15, it could all have changed in the matter of seconds.

Girls head toward court

Nevertheless, Westford managed to prevail and won the first set 25-19. In spite of winning, the girls began to lose their grips with the ball yet threw it over the net with excellent precision.

Billerica began the second set with newfound vigor after their initial loss, causing them to be relentless towards Westford. They led the game by four points but soon started slacking by losing simple points by dropping the ball twice or spiking into the net. However, Westford continued to provide excellent blocks even to their exceptional shots.

Soon enough Westford started to lose stamina and fell into the same pattern that Billerica had earlier. This was a key point for Billerica, as they utilized this moment to target players particularly out of breath and used deceptive moves such faking a spike.

Coach Brandon Eang quickly noticed the fatigue affecting the players and called a time out while Billerica was rapidly moving towards 25, at 19-14. After getting back in the set, the girls were visibly more alert and ready to handle the opponents. Ultimately, although the two teams broke even at 21-21, Westford lost the second set. This led the game to be played out of a total of five sets.

At the start, Billerica dismantled Westford’s defense by striking at players who could not orient themselves to save the ball. Westford also started to attack with a series of out-of-bounds shots, which led to easy wins on Billerica’s part. Overall, the beginning painted the picture of who would win the round.

The girls still managed to put up a strong fight after Captain Angela Alibrandi slammed the ball into an open slot. That gave Westford enough hope to take the reins, but it was too late in the set. Billerica ultimately won the third set, and both teams moved to the second to last set with Billerica’s second win in a row.

The girls carried that moment of elation and determination to the next set and instantly sprung to a huge lead 16-7. Seniors Angela Alibrandi, Julia Libbie, and Katalinn Cooper deployed their heights to block whatever came over the net. Billerica, however, did not accept their imminent defeat and took every chance to score.

It was futile nonetheless, as Westford came out 25-19 by the end of the fourth set. It was an overwhelming play that really displayed their true talent especially in the state of exhaustion they were in.

Westford, exhausted, yet so close to winning the game
Westford, exhausted, yet so close to winning the game

The final round approached as both teams were in a standstill for the first few minutes or so, until Billerica caught on to an out-of-bounds ball and then took the first point of the set. However, as the set progressed, Westford gained on Billerica, 13-4. At that point, it was a lead that was unsurpassable.

In the end, it was an immense victory for Westford, 15-4. The gym was filled with roars coming from the bleachers and the players, while a visibly dejected Billerica formed a line to congratulate their opponents.

“Well, I was not happy in the beginning because it started very [slowly] and that seems to be our motto now or something. We always start [off] slow and that’s just really frustrating. Once we get warmed up, once we start to sync with each other and coordinate and know where to go and then we seem to be okay. But we cannot afford to start off slow like that every time, it’s [going] to come back and things won’t play out like they did,” said Coach Eang.

As they improve on that for the playoffs, Captain Angela Alibrandi was unable to keep in her excitement for the team’s destination.

“I’m so excited, this is the first time since 2012 that we’ve qualified for playoffs. First time in my high school career and for all of us, seniors, this meant a lot. And today I think we played well as a team, we struggled a bit in the second and third set but I’m so proud of how we were able to come back and win together in the fourth set and then just push it out in the fifth set,” said Alibrandi.

The girls will be at an away conference match in Cambridge Rindge & Latin today.