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.




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


LA Spartans Volleyball Stays Home for the NEPSAC Class B Semis on Saturday

Groton, Mass. — The celebration — at least the emotion on the court — was muted.

After the Lawrence Academy Spartans volleyball team completed their three-set sweep of Suffield Academy in the NEPSAC Class B quarterfinals, the girls could be seen embracing and walking to the bench, even as bedlam occurred in the stands.

Perhaps noting the subdued on-court celebration, LA Head Coach Steve Engstrom said his club remains determined to complete the task at hand.

“We’re really excited to be still playing at this point in the season,” said Mr. Engstrom, who — alongside Assistant Coach Dina Mordeno — has engineered a steady rise out of the ISL basement over the past several seasons.

“We’re trying to improve on what we have been able to do over the last few years,” added Engstrom on Thursday. “I’m really happy how the team played yesterday.

“It was a well-rounded effort, and we were confident,” he said.

But “not-too-confident” was the underlying subtext of Steve’s message, as much of his team was on the court at the end of a heartbreaking 3-1 loss to Cheshire in the semis of the 2017 Class-B tournament.

On Wednesday, in front of a fully and boisterous crowd in the Spartans new-look gymnasium, there were — of course — minor hiccups during the first round victory, but given the command LA held throughout the match, the players can be excused for having a few momentary lapses against the scrappy Tigers.

In fact, with a third-straight NEPSAC postseason berth — including home court advantage throughout the playoffs — and a tournament victory already under their proverbial belts, the Spartans stand poised to make some more noize this coming weekend, provided that the fan supports continues.

“We had an amazing showing of support from Spartan Nation yesterday,” noted Coach Engstrom. “They brought the rowdy after every point it makes a huge difference to us to have the crowd celebrate.”


Meanwhile, looking toward Saturday’s game, the Spartans see Dana Hall (who fell to the Spartans 3-0 in a very early season scrimmage in September) and are working toward extending their season to Sunday.

However, these Spartans, who have seen premature exits in their last two postseasons, are taking nothing for granted. There’ll be plenty of team bonding at a dinner on Thursday, and practices before Saturday’s match.

In fact, Coach Engstrom is looking for even more support from the stands to buoy his girls on Saturday – a tough task given that exams end today and Thanksgiving break begins tomorrow.

“We’re looking forward to playing a challenging Dana Hall this Saturday,” he said. “We hope to have the continued support from the LA community.”


Look out Western Mass!


Gabi Bailey ’19

Lawrence Academy Volleyball to be well-represented at the NEPSAC All-Star Tournament in Deerfield

Today, LA Spartans Head Varsity Volleyball Coach Steve Engstrom announced that seniors Gabi Bailey, Dasha Zhuravleva, and Nicole Winthrop would all represent Lawrence Academy at the NEPSAC All-Star Tournament.

The tournament will be held this coming weekend at Deerfield Academy.

The trio will play on Sunday — all day — against 90 girls from 38 schools in three divisions.


Nicole Winthrop ’19


Daria Zhuravleva ’19

Emotions and Hopes Run High for Volleyball, Field Hockey

Spartans Begin NEPSAC Playoff Run

Two of LA’s playoff-bound squads are ready to hit the field and the court today.

“I am so proud of the heart this team has had for the entire season,” said Eliza Foster, head coach of the seventh seed varsity field hockey team.

The LA girls stand 11-6-1 going into today’s road NEPSAC playoff game versus undefeated Suffield Academy (second seed, 17-0).

“We are a team who has earned every win together,” added Foster, whose squad did not face the Tigers during the regular season.

“We are beyond excited to play in the first field hockey postseason game in a while,” she said.

Field Hockey boards a Bucky Bus today at 11:50 AM in front of the Stone Athletic Center as they prepare for a trip down the Pike, but just a few hours later the NEPSAC playoffs return to the Stone Courts.

“We’ve had a great season so far, and this is really what we were playing for,” said volleyball Head Coach Steve Engstrom, whose team is 16-3 going into Wednesday’s action.

“We had our eyes set on the postseason since the beginning,” he continued. “Getting where we are now, shows how this team has worked hard to accomplish our goals each week.”

The LA volleyball Spartans face The Governor’s Academy, who stand at 11-5, with one of those five setbacks coming at the hands of Lawrence Academy, 3-0, in Groton on Oct. 14.

Speaking with sentiments applicable to both clubs, Mr. Engstrom added, “We are ready for tough opponents here on out and excited for the challenge.”

Check out some action from the court and field below…

The Schedule is Set for Spartans in the NEPSAC Playoffs

Spartan Football, Volleyball, and Field Hockey Earn Postseason Bids

Over the span of several hours on Sunday, Lawrence Academy’s outlook on the fall semester’s athletic season went from good to great as three Spartan squads earned NEPSAC playoff bids.

SpartanBanner250First up, the seventh-seeded LA field hockey squad will head south to Suffield Academy (Suffield, CT) to take on the second-seeded Tigers at 3:15 PM on Wednesday, November 15.

Also on the 15th, third-seeded LA volleyball will host The Governor’s Academy on the Stone Courts in Groton, Massachusetts. That match begins at 3:30 PM

Finally, fresh off defeating Tabor Academy 49-14 and earning outright possession of the ISL football crown, Lawrence Academy football will host Andover on Murbach Field at 1:00 PM, Saturday, Nov. 18.

Full tournament brackets are available via

It’s going to be a busy week (to say the least), and the best place to stay up-to-date on everything is Lawrence Academy’s Twitter account (@LawrenceAcademy). We will live tweet from all three events, uploading scores, pictures, and video to keep fans in the know.