A Perfect Start: FHS Volleyball First Game Of The Season


FHS Smugmug

The Franklin Panthers Volleyball team had perfect start to their season with a 3-0 victory over OA.

Franklin’s Volleyball Team began their year off the right way, with a straight-set victory at home. The Panthers hosted Oliver Ames, marking Franklin Athletic’s first home game of the year. 9/5-9/9 marked the first week of the regular season for fall sports. This Panther squad displayed their talent last year with their run to the Final 4 in the MIAA’s new playoff format. Last year, the Panthers went 18-2 in regular season play and took a share of the Kelly-Rex crown with KP after a 5-set thriller to end the regular season. Although the Panthers lost some key players, this year’s unit is still loaded with talent and plenty of experience. The team is led by Captains Taylor Lacerda Jr.(Outside Hitter), Meghan Linkkila Sr. (Setter), and Georgia Harvey Sr. (Libero). Lacerda, Linkkila, and Harvey look to lead Franklin back to a Kelly-Rex title for the fifth year straight. The Panthers started that campaign by defeating last year’s Davenport Champs, Oliver Ames.

Sr. Georgia Harvey along with  Jr. T. Lacerda and Sr. Linkkila will look to lead Franklin to a state title this year (FHS Smugmug)

The start of the first set found both teams trying to find their footing and build chemistry with each other. A 3-3 start initially saw Franklin chasing OA. However, after a kill by Fr. Makayla Kuykendall, introducing herself to OA, Franklin jumped out to a 4-3 lead. Kuykendall is the only underclassman on this year’s team, but is proven to be powerful. Franklin attempted to rally off of Kuykendall’s kill, but OA was responding perfectly early in the game with multiple blocks, pushing Franklin into attack errors. Franklin soon started to work around the Tiger’s net play with a variety of kills.  

After that, it was all Franklin in the first set. T. Lacerda got herself involved, bypassing OA’s block attempts with powerful hits to put Franklin up 14-10. Throughout the first set, both teams displayed immense power with their outside hitters, dictating the pace at which this game would be played. The Panthers were not fazed by OA’s outside hitters and took the first set 25-18 off of a Rachael Taylor kill at the net. R. Taylor showed throughout the game her ability to play the middle well, filling the role that Lindsey Tarantola played last year. 

The second set is where this game got the most competitive. Franklin got off to a poor start, trailing 2-4 early in the set. Kuykendall helped to swing the momentum by securing another kill, which would eventually tie the set at 4-4. Kuykendall showed throughout the game her versatility as a hitter, with her powerful hits and light taps at the net. OA started to make the Panthers dive on a lot of their digs, throwing the team off, putting OA up 9-13 in the 2nd set. Linkkila would score 2 of the next 5 points off aces to eventually put Franklin up 14-13.

Sr. Linkkila was one of the top servers for Franklin on Wednesday night (FHS Smugmug )

A large part of any sport is the momentum each team can create with a run of points. Especially in volleyball, the team on the wrong side of the momentum can quickly lose confidence and dig themselves into an even bigger hole. Yet, Franklin is able to produce momentum swings in their favor, not letting the pressure get to them.  This was unveiled to OA when T. Lacerda quickly added two kills to help kickstart a Franklin run that would see them up 19-14. At this point, it was clear that OA was starting to make a few too many mistakes and the Panthers were able to capitalize on every one of them. OA tried to rally again, which was quickly halted by a block by R. Taylor, keeping a 4-point lead for Franklin (22-18). The 2nd set ended in an anti-climatic finish with an OA player touching the net giving the set to Franklin 25-21.

The 3rd set was quite pleasing if you were a Franklin fan, but boring if you were a neutral fan. Franklin swiftly got out to a 4-0 lead with a T. Lacerda kill. Jr. Jen Soohoo also played a very good game with 4 kills, often placing it into positions where OA had no chance to return it. She also had a possible candidate for dig of the year, diving and saving the ball with what seemed like two fingers.

Unfortunately, Franklin lost that point making it 11-5, giving OA some hope they could force a 4th set. Yet it was clear throughout the third set that OA was on their heels trying to bring back the game too quickly, while Franklin was calm, cool, and collected. Franklin collected 19 aces with Linkkila (7 aces) and T. Lacerda (5 aces), leading the team. So, just like that, the score ran up, 16-6, 20-7, and soon it was 23-10 thanks to a R. Taylor kill. After 2 more miscues by OA, it was game over, and the Panthers secured their first victory in straight sets.

The Panthers looked flawless in their first game of the year, they look to carry that play into their next game against KP (FHS Smugmug)

Key Takeaways

  • This year’s team seems to have no weaknesses: Every single part of the team seems to be a strength and every player on the team can attack, defend, and serve really well, making it hard for opponents to exploit weaknesses (if there are even any weaknesses).
  • There’s a new dynamic duo in town- Taylor Lacerda and Makayla Kuykendall: Shown in Wednesday’s game, both these outside hitters have shown that they can hit with great power and control,which is aided greatly by their setter, Linkkila, who ended up with 22 assists on the night. 
  • The Team Chemistry this year is incredibly high: The Panthers looked like a well-oiled machine out of the gate, and the team had visibly and audibly more spirit than an OA team that had double the amount of players.

Franklin will go against Kelly-Rex powerhouse King Phillip on 9/12 at 5:00 P.M at home.