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Winchester Volleyball Team to Play Inaugural Season

The Sachems opened the new season with a 3-0 victory over Somerville.

The formed last year as a club team, which meant a whole lot of practices, one scrimmage, and no actual matches.

So when the Sachems moved up to the varsity level this year they were overjoyed just to be able to play a real game. To make the experience even better, they dominated the season opener against Somerville last week, winning 25-13, 25-9, 25-14.

"For the guys last year, all they did was practice," said coach John Fleming, who also leads the varsity girls team at Winchester in the fall. "It is gratifying for them to actually put their efforts into having some real matches and have a little success with it."

Garrett Dagle had 11 kills and 11 service points, Mitchell Ulacco had 18 service points, Don Muir had seven assists and Charles Dagle had five kills in the victory.

"The guys were pumped up to win their first match," Fleming said. "It was exciting for them. It will give them a little more motivation moving forward."

Like Winchester, Somerville was also playing its first match on the varsity level, so the competition is going to get tougher. The Sachems will play Boston Latin, Acton-Boxborough, Billerica, Lowell Catholic and Somerville twice, and Andover once.

Right now the Sachems are the only team in the Middlesex League. But they will be one of three programs next year — Arlington, which has an established program, is joining the league, and Lexington will be making the move up to the varsity level next season.

The team is captained by seniors Garrett Dagle and Muir and sophomore Ulacco. Dagle was also a captain of the basketball team and Muir was a captain of the wrestling team.

Dagle will be the focus of the offense as a middle hitter while Muir and Ulacco are setters. Dagle's younger brother, freshman Charles Dagle, is also transitioning from basketball to volleyball.

Other top players include senior defensive specialist Michael Stern, senior outside hitter Brendan Doherty and sophomore outside hitter Kalin Stoyanchev, who grew up playing the sport.

There are 25 players on the varsity and junior varsity teams combined — a good number for the first season, but one that Fleming hopes will increase in future years in order to hold competitive tryouts. On the bright side, 17 of the 25 players are sophomores.

"It's a younger group, which is good for the next two years," Fleming said.

Winchester boys volleyball

Last season: 0-0 (this is the first year on varsity)

Key players: Garrett Dagle, Sr., MH; Don Muir, Sr., S; Mitchell Ulacco, So., S; Charles Dagle, Fr., MH; Michael Stern, Sr., DS; Brendan Doherty, Sr., OH; Kalin Stoyanchev, So., OH.

Outlook: Winchester has never played any of its opponents before, so it will be hard to predict how the season will go. The 3-0 win against Somerville was a great start and a hard-earned reward for the work that comes with building a program from scratch. The matches will get much tougher, but no matter what happens, the experience will be invaluable for Winchester's 17 sophomores as the program moves forward.

Quote: "The guys were pumped up to win their first match. It was exciting for them. It will give them a little more motivation moving forward." — coach John Fleming.

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