MILFORD – Two teams on the opposite end of the volleyball spectrum met Wednesday night in a match which had more meaning than just volleyball supremacy in the city.
For the Foran and Law volleyball teams, the second meeting of the year between the two teams was a night to honor the seniors and a night to honor the late Maren Sanchez, who was slain in April.
Six months have passed since Sanchez was taken, but her memory at Jonathan Law will last a lifetime. Following a ceremony Wednesday afternoon in which a purple garden overlooking the softball and baseball fields was dedicated to Sanchez, the volleyball teams had their chance to show Milford has not forgotten Sanchez and her family.
In a sea of purple at Jonathan Law, the Milford community came together as one once again as Sanchez, who would have been a senior, was remembered along with the senior class for both teams prior to the contest.
“This is a nice way to celebrate her life,” Law’s first-year athletic director V.J. Sarullo said. “It is great for the school to do this. I think it’s great to see the Milford community come together like this.”
Players and coaches on both sides were honored to be a part of such a special event for what they called a “special person and friend.”
“Everything we do is for her,” Law senior Megan Gritz said. “We think of her all the time. It makes me happy we all come together like this.”
When the two teams meet, the match usually is played as a “Dig Pink” contest for cancer awareness.
“The kids wanted to do this game for Maren,” Law coach Stacy Loch said. “It has affected so many people. They wanted to play for her.”
As for the game, Foran used a combination which has worked throughout the season in a 25-14, 25-11, 25-20 victory to improve to 14-5. That combination has been to use the obvious height advantage with Janae Owen, Samantha Bennett, Kayla Ellis and Kelly Hunt, along with a solid defense to thwart opponents.
Law had no answer as Owen finished with 13 kills, Hunt had nine kills and Ellis had eight kills to go along with solid defensive play, led by Ashley Mendillo.
“I definitely think we are peaking at the right time,” Mendillo said. “Law always gives us a good game, no matter what their record is. I am very excited. This team has pulled together, especially after losing nine seniors to graduation.”
The Lions controlled the first two games as they never trailed in either frame. Owen asserted her dominance on the court early as her block helped Foran to a 4-0 lead in the first game and two consecutive kills had the Lions on top 14-10.
Law, which fell to 2-17, got as close as 14-11 on a kill by Gritz, but kills by Foran’s Jenna Zacarelli, Hunt and Bennett, along with two aces by Hunt closed out the first game for the Lions.
“It is really nice we got to be a part of this,” Owen said. “We are Law and Foran separately, but together we come together and are Milford Strong.
“We had some big blocks early and some good hits. It feels good to go in the playoffs like this. There are plenty of things for us to work on, but we have a winning season and we want to keep it going.”
The second game was more of the same as three kills by Owen gave Foran an 8-2 lead. Law got as close as 17-8 om a kill by Molly Vargo, but kills by Ellis and Lauren Notholt and three Law errors had Foran up 2-0 in games.
“We have such a height advantage over some teams,” Foran coach Julie Johnson said. “When we are aggressive at the net and have the height advantage, we play very well. We need both to happen.”
The Lions looked as if they would roll to an easy sweep, but Law took its first lead of the contest in the final game and actually held a 12-10 advantage on a kill by Kailee Frank. A pair of kills by Foran’s Juliet Levesque put Foran ahead 15-14 and the Lions never looked back despite a kill by Gritz getting Law within 21-19. Owen ended any thought of a Law comeback with three straight kills for a 24-20 Foran lead.
“In the third game, we pushed harder,” Gritz said after finishing with 12 kills and five digs. “We gave it our all. We communicated and moved the ball better. We talked with each other.”
Zacarelli ran the Foran offense with 35 assists. Law was led by Heather Sherrick with 15 assists, four digs and two aces, as well as Frank with nine digs and Kayla Patrick with eight digs and 100% serving.