The girls’ volleyball team won its 62nd straight game Wednesday, sweeping Norton, 3-0 to begin its Division 2 state title defense.
But Medfield head coach Jack Hastings isn’t concerned with past achievements or historic winning streaks, he’s focused on the 2011 Warriors, who he says have a lot of work to do.
“There really isn’t a whole lot of strengths yet [from this year’s squad],” Hastings said. “It’s still a work in progress.”
Strange to call a team who has won three straight state championships and a program that has won six state titles since 1998 a work in progress, but Hastings says the team’s player turnover from last year has put a lot of new faces on the court.
“It’s a strong program … in the past,” Hastings said. “I have two girls that were on the court last year that are returning, so I got a whole new group. We have to start from ground zero again. Just because the program’s had success, that doesn’t buy us any wins, we got to start like everybody else does.”
Hastings said his team’s biggest weakness heading into the season and after their season opening win against Norton is chemistry.
“The difference about this year from probably the last two or three is I’ve got to create some chemistry,” Hastings said. “Usually when you have four or five returning players, the chemistry is always there. One of the things [this year] is the chemistry isn’t [there], it is far from being there. That’s one of the things we have to work on besides the regular skills.”
While relatively young and without veterans like Natalie Dickinson, who graduated this past June, the Warriors are still a talented bunch and those skills were on display Wednesday against the Lancers.
Medfield swept the Lancers in dominating fashion to begin the year, outscoring Norton 25-11 in Game One, 25-12 in Game 2 and 25-14 in Game 3. The Warriors opened the first game on a 10-1 run before Norton ended it with a point. Medfield strung together an 8-0 run later in that first game before closing it out, 25-11.
After building a 5-1 lead in Game 2, Norton pulled within one at 7-6 – the closest it would ever get to the Warriors in the match – but Medfield answered again and rattled off an 11-1 run before finishing on a 4-1 run to win 25-12.
“In the second game, I put [a couple of] sophomores in,” Hastings said. “The third game I had two more sophomores and the rest were juniors. It’s just one of these things where you have to have the young kids. If you don’t have the young kids then you’re going to end up falling on your face. Some programs do that. You see some programs have all these seniors and then the next year they have nobody. So I try to keep it [balanced] so I know I have some people that have experience and can be able to go and do what they need to do.”
Those “young kids” were able to defeat Norton, 25-14 in the third game to sweep the match and notch the Warriors’ 62nd straight victory. But Hastings is focused on the upcoming schedule, starting Friday in Hopkinton.
“We play Hopkinton on Friday and Hopkinton is a good team and Hopkinton has already come out and said they’re going to beat us, which is fine,” Hastings said. “After that, we play Medway. So we have two teams right in a row that we are going to play that are probably right now if you looked at them are probably the top two teams for the simple reason that they didn’t lose as many people.”
Hastings said despite the new-look team on the court this season, with only two players returning from last year’s starting lineup, teams will be out to beat them.
“Anybody that knows anything about our program wants to beat us,” said Hastings. “We get everybody’s best game and they come to play.”
Hastings has put last year’s success behind himself and his team and is only focused on getting his players to play together and into the state tournament.
“Hopefully we can win 10 games to get into the tournament and go from there,” Hastings said. … “I’m hoping they can improve a little bit and play together as a team because that’s the weakness right now. They have to be able to just go. They can’t think about it, they just have to go and that’s my job. … There’s a lot of raw talent [on this team] and what they got to do is they got to play and hopefully they’ll be able to play and practice against the good teams.”
The Warriors got off to a quick start Wednesday but it’s a long season, according to Hastings.
“It’s a short season but it’s a long season,” Hastings said. “The bad thing about it is we only have two people on the team from last year but everybody is out to beat us, everybody wants to beat us. … It’s not easy, it’s not going to be easy.”
Medfield (1-0, 1-0) travels to Hopkinton on Friday for a 6:30 p.m. match.