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The new class

Bears turn to fresh faces

by Jeff Lajoie
Sports Reporter

Senior setter Erica Doubleday (9) is one of just five returning players for the Bears as they set to open their Division III regular season schedule Friday night. File Photo. (click for larger version)
September 01, 2014
TILTON It was a remarkable era for the Winnisquam Regional High School volleyball team. The senior class that graduated this past spring compiled an incredible 69-10 record in four years, winning two state championships and a state runner-up in that span.

Put with the loss of eight seniors, including standouts like Hannah Chapin and Carissa Archibald, this year's Bears lineup will have a decidedly different look than the familiar squads of years past.

"It's a very big changing of the guard," admitted Winnisquam head coach Mike Livernois, whose team lost in the Division III state championship match to Nute last season. "But I'm very optimistic at this point. I like the team a lot and they've come together well so far."

Winnisquam does return five players from last year's runner-up squad. Senior co-captains Erica Doubleday (setter) and Becky Rapoza (outside hitter) will be anchors in the lineup, and Livernois is counting on the duo to help set the tone.

"Erica I think got a lot of valuable experience last year," said Livernois of Doubleday, who totaled an impressive 506 assists as the starting setter last season. "She had to step into the spot that Elyssa Clairmont left and she managed to put a lot of balls up last year that got hit. Now we're not quite as experienced at the hitting spot but I thought Erica had a really nice season stepping in for someone who had big shoes to fill. She'll have to be a catalyst and a big leader for us.

"Becky did a lot of work over the summer and I think she's going to surprise people," Livernois continued. "She's hitting the ball really well."

The junior trio of Meghan LaBelle (defensive specialist), Jaila Remillard (outside hitter) and Marissa DeBlasie (outside hitter) round out the returning core, and all three should expect to see their roles beefed up this fall.

"I think we'll be better than people think by the time the season is done," said Livernois. "We're going to have some growing pains but we're a very fast and very athletic team. We're going to do some things differently because of that. Someone like Jaila Remillard has a chance to be a fantastic offensive and defensive player. She has a chance at five foot 10 to alter a game at the net."

Junior Dakota Austin will figure right into the lineup at weakside hitter while classmate Kaylyn Dion will play substantial minutes as a defensive specialist. Fellow junior Lindsay Raymond will also work her way into the outside hitter mix, while Macayla Skeats rounds out the junior newcomer class. Sophomore Nicole Matcheski is also new to the varsity squad.

"Even though I've only got five returning players, three of those new players Dakota, Kaylyn and Lindsay in most years would've played as sophomores," said Livernois. "We had so many seniors last year that it didn't make sense to have them up and sit on the bench. They're pretty experienced, and they're doing a nice job. We are a little more experienced than people might think because we have people who have played a lot of volleyball."

Livernois pointed to the success of the JV team, which finished 15-1 last year and won the JV tournament at year's end.

The regular season is slated to kick off on Friday night with a road trip to Hillsboro-Deering before Moultonborough Academy comes to Tilton for the home opener on Sept. 8.

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