Cape Cod has long been a volleyball hotbed in Massachusetts. Barnstable High School is one of the commonwealth’s measuring stick schools, and has been for well over two decades. The Raiders’ gymnasium is littered with state championship banners.
It’s not just in Barnstable where the game is huge, though. Bourne High, which won the Division 3 state title a year ago, also has a deep history of success. Dennis-Yarmouth has seen its program rise to become one of the premiere Division 2 programs. Falmouth is not far behind the Dolphins, earning regular tournament trips over the last several seasons. It’s safe to say the game is played at a high level on the peninsula.
Next year Mashpee High would like to join the ranks of varsity programs on Cape Cod. This past fall the Falcons debuted a junior varsity program for the first time, and the numbers for the team were better than expected. Head coach Morgan Lacava headed up a program that had 30 players sign up for the team after a successful petition to get things launched.
The Falcons had to start from square one.
“None of them knew how to play the sport, they were eager to learn,” the coacch said. “Since there was no prior volleyball team, we started with the basics, where to stand, how to return the ball. I was very impressed with how quickly they picked things up.”
The team did not compete against another team for more than a month. The Falcons spent the first several weeks of the fall season going over those basics and trying to get to a point where they could confidently step onto the court against another team. When they were ready for action, the MHS girls played against junior varsity teams. They fared pretty well for year one, winning two matches along the way.
Coach Lacava, who is just 19 years old, said the Falcons still have plenty to learn, but for a first-year program they excelled. She said the players are beginning to learn the fundamentals and are moving ahead every day. “I think their biggest strength was communication,” she said. “If you don’t talk to each other you’re not going to be able to make those plays, and they figured that part out pretty well...they gained a lot of experience. You can teach the sport, but until you play a game it’s just talk. They picked things up fast.”
Brittany Lawson served as an assistant coach for the program. Both coaches were unpaid volunteers this year.
“I can’t say enough good things about our coaches,” athletic director Matt Triveri said. “They came in and they taught those kids how to play the game, and they did a great job.”
Triveri said he is hopeful that the future of the program is a quick ascendance to the varsity level, but noted there are variables that will determine that. At MHS a sport must be self-funded for three years before it comes under the umbrella of the athletic department’s financial management, meaning the program will have to self-fund in order to get to the varsity level.
“It’s a tough road, they have to raise money and hopefully the parents will step up and help with the fundraising and get the ball rolling,” he said.