Bailey Earns 1000th “Kill” During LA’s Volleyball Championship Victory

Groton, Mass. — Being close to the court (rink, field, mat), the game-within-the-game becomes clearer, particularly regarding interactions between coaches and players.

Most of the time coaches endeavor to motivate (in many, many ways), but sometimes they simply celebrate the fantastic achievements of their charges.

As the Spartans completed their first successful set during their eventual 3-0 win over Governor’s on Sunday, some cards came into view via Head Coach Steve Engstrom; cards announcing how close Gabi Bailey ’19 was to breaking the 1000 “kill” marker for her high school career.

Casually held aloft, the cardboard ticked up to the significant milestone, alerted the partisan home crowd to impending collective memory.

997.

998.

999.

Then, at the beginning of the second set, it happened:

“Oh gosh,” said a visibly relieved Bailey, postgame. “This is so awesome.

“I couldn’t have done it without all of [my teammates] and they really, really put on a show today.

“It was awesome,” she said. “So exciting.”

Bailey’s memorable play set the tone for the Spartans taking the second and third set — after a very, very tight opening stanza against a tenacious Govs team — en route to the eventual victory and a NEPSAC Class B title for LA.

But then, Gabi setting the tone is certainly no surprise to anyone who has seen her play for Lawrence Academy.

“[Bailey] really has turned around the program,” said Head Coach Steve Engstrom. “She was able to give us the offense that we never had before.

“The fact that she got her thousandth kill here in the finals was – well, it was amazing.”

For her part — and true to form on this team — Bailey passed the praise on to others.

“I knew [what] Dasha was going to do; couldn’t have gotten it without Dosh,” said Bailey of fellow senior Dasha Zhuravleva, who has fed Gabi’s powerful right arm for two seasons. “She’s an awesome setter.

“And with everyone’s passing,” she added, “I just knew I was going to come together.”

However, her teammates were thrilled to see the future Nittany Lion (as Bailey is heading to Penn State next fall) hit the heretofore unexpected milestone.

Coach Engstrom had kept the possibility a secret…

“I did not know that was happening today,” said a laughing senior Spartan standout Nicole Winthrop. “I guess I missed the memo.

“I saw Mr. Engstrom holding up like the 999. I was like, ‘Well what the heck is that?’

“And then she comes out with a 1000 sign; it was so exciting!” she said.

It certainly was, Nicole! It certainly was… Congratulations to Gabi and the entire roster. Mr. B & Mr. G

Gabi

Lawrence Academy Girls’ Volleyball Takes the New England Class B Title

Groton, Mass. — After a 3-0 victory over Governor’s Academy on Sunday, Lawrence Academy Varsity Volleyball Head Coach Steve Engstrom smiled ear-to-ear as he recounted his club’s journey from also-rans to NEPSAC champions. 

“Oh Man, what a game,” said the deceivingly intense, bespectacled coach of the Spartans. “[I remember] three years ago after the first playoff loss in the quarterfinals; then the semi-finals last year. Then we made it to the finals this year.

“We’re really excited about how it turned out.”


Watch the entire championship game… 


As far as Mr. Engstrom’s understatement goes, the entire LA community — many of whom were in the gym to witness LA’s latest NEPSAC title — were pretty pleased, as well.

Far from the easy 3-0 romp belied on the scoreboard, Governor’s girls’ varsity volleyball, a tried-and-true ISL foe, gave the Spartans all they could handle early.

“It was an exciting game from start to finish,” said the coach, trying to calculate stats in his head. “We were just nervous in the first set.

“That was quite a struggle … similar to yesterday [a 3-0 win against Dana Hall]. We couldn’t quite get our offense going.


Vs. Dana Hall in the Semi-final…


“The second set, we felt a little more comfortable,” added Engstrom. “We were getting our serves in… we started getting going, and we never looked back.”

However, many Spartan fans will look back at this game as the culmination of the career of — perhaps — the best volleyball player to don the red, white, and blue, Gabi Bailey ’19.

The Penn State-bound senior, whose grandfather was a member of LA’s undefeated 1955 football team, posted her 1000th high school “kill” early in the second set.


Gabi Bailey’s 1000th…

The full Twitter thread is may be found @lawrenceacademy.


“It was awesome,” said Engstrom, who held up cards signifying Bailey’s progress toward the goal to the delight of the partisan LA crowd. “I mean, she really has turned around the program.

“She was able to give us the offense that we never had before,” he continued, speaking to Bailey’s arrival two years ago. “And, what it did, was help the other girls in the team get so much better; being able to practice against the best hitter in the ISL.

“The fact that she got her thousandth kill here with in the finals was – well, it was amazing,” he said.

And the progress of the entire team was first-and-foremost on Coach Engstrom’s postgame mind.

IMG_5746

“We’ve had some of our seniors have been here since freshman year, and we were something like 3-16 at that point, and it was a totally different team,” he explained. “But they have put in the years, and we slowly grew in our success.

“We worked a lot during preseason and during the season in practices just to keep getting as many touches and get as much experience on the court, so we feel comfortable when it comes down to the games like this.”

Despite that experience, Engstrom also spoke about the LA community and how it embraced his team down the stretch.

“It’s so much fun to be able to see is our fan section out there and just really trying to bring it,” said Engstrom. “Our girls noticed them, for sure, and we saw it yesterday, and they talked about it after the game; how exciting it is when, when the fans get on their feet and just in our new ‘newish’ gym.

“It’s been a lot of fun.”


FWIW: LA’s Most Recent New England Titles

2018 – 19 — Volleyball

2017 – 18 — Football, Boys’ Hockey

2015 – 16 — Football

2014 – 15 — Boys’ Soccer, Football

2011 – 12 — Boys’ Hockey

2008 – 09 — Field Hockey

2002 – 03 — Girls’ Soccer

Last volleyball title?

1997 A.I.S.G.A. Volleyball Tournament  – 1st Place

Arnold & Evans: NEPSAC All-Stars

LA Basketball

Coach Mastrangelo congratulates Nicolette Arnold ’19 and Ashley Evans ’20.

DEDHAM, MA — Two girls’ basketball Spartans took to the court to represent Lawrence Academy at the 2017 – 2018 NEPSAC Class B All-Star Game.

Hosted by Nobles, Nicolette Arnold ’19 and Ashley Evans ’20 joined the “East” squad and impressed LA’s longtime girls’ basketball guru Donna Mastrangelo.

“Both girls did an outstanding job representing our school,” said Coach Mastrangelo, postgame. “They made big stops defensively, rebounded well, and there was a huge block by Ashley

“Also, they both did well on the offensive end with impressive assists by Nicolette, and key baskets by each girl.

“They put the East ahead while they were in the game,” she said.

Congratulations to both Spartans, not only for their fine showing on Sunday but also for an excellent winter season.

 

Boys’ Hockey: NEPSAC Champs

MANCHESTER, NH — Following their 6-2 win over St. Mark’s in the quarterfinals, the boys’ varsity hockey team prolonged the winter season with two overtime wins and emerged as the tournament’s eventual champions.

LA Hockey

Lots of smiles at St. Anselm…

After beating Gunnery 3-2 in OT in Connecticut on Saturday, the team traveled to St. Anselm College to take on the New Hampton School on Sunday in the final game of the Piatelli/Simmons bracket. After an end-to-end contest finished 4-4 in regulation, the Spartans managed to edge the Huskies 5-4 off a goal from forward Gunnar-wolfe Fontaine ‘20 with 8:22 on the clock in overtime.

“[I’m] so proud,” said co-captain Andrew Moynihan ‘18 after the game. “Every single player in that room would do something for the person next to them, and I think that’s what’s most important.”

“It’s been a huge honor,” added fellow captain and senior Jack Cameron.

“To be a captain of this team and go win the championship—it means so much to me, it could’ve been anyone out of eight or nine of us in the room…I feel very fortunate, very lucky to be in that position.”

“We preach family first, right from the get-go,” head coach Robbie Barker reflected.

“I tell the guys, ‘You’ve got to believe in yourself, you’ve got to believe in each other, and you can’t play for yourself’—it’s a team game, and that’s a great example of what happened today.”

From NESCAC to NEPSAC