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Hopedale - Local Town Pages

Hopedale Girls Volleyball

By Christopher Tremblay, Staff Sports Writer
Twenty years ago, Chris Ridolfi began his volleyball coaching career at Milford High School, where he stayed for six years before moving onto the collegiate level, where he coached for the next 13 seasons. 
He left coaching to begin a family and when the job opened up last summer for a volleyball coach in Hopedale, he thought it was a good time to get back in the game. 
Although hired to be the Blue Raiders volleyball coach, he wouldn’t get the opportunity for quite some time due to the situations surrounding the country with the pandemic. Even now as the season approaches (Hopedale began the season on March 17) Ridolfi and his team are still vulnerable to the situation surrounding them.
“With Covid there is still unpredictability and schedule changes. Something comes up every day related to the season and changes,” the Hopedale Coach. “So many different things happening and being a planner, the unpredictability gets to me.”
Hopedale will play 12 games within its pod against Nipmuc, Whitinsville-Christian, Douglas, Sutton, Blackstone Valley Tech and Bethany Christian. Each week the Blue Raiders will play a home and away game with the same team each week on Wednesday and Friday.
Hopedale’s only senior and captain Bianca Fitch, who has started since her freshman year, is one of the best volleyball players in the area and should provide the Blue Raiders with the experience they need to be successful. Fitch is already committed to play volleyball at Stonehill College next year. 
“She is a phenomenal character kid and having coached is some top college leagues I’ve come across some character layers and she’s up there with her leadership and unselfishness,” Ridolfi said. “Traditionally she’s a libero but this year I may need her to hit. She’s willing to do whatever is needed for the team.”
The Coach went on to say that he couldn’t stop the rest of the team from following Fitch if he wanted to; she’s a top-notch player with all the skills.
Following the senior captain, Hopedale has a deep junior class with the likes of Kaylin Boldy (outside hitter), Kelly Knowlton (right side hitter who will defend the opposition’s best hitter), Gina Wilke (middle hitter) and Ashleigh Bourgeois (defensive player who will also challenge for the libero position) who will all contribute on the court this season. 
Hopedale’s starting setter will be sophomore Franny Fitch, who starter for the Blue raiders as a freshman last year. According to Ridolfi, she is the quarterback of the team and will pass along the game plan from the Coach to the rest of the team.
Another starter will be Taylor Martin-LaVache, a sophomore who will be changing positions from the right side to middle hitter to team up with Wilke.  Being two of the team’s tallest players on the court Martin-LaVache and Wilke are capable of playing above the net and their athleticism will allow Hopedale to play a physical brand of volleyball.
Hopedale will also see some action from first year players in juniors Sage Garvin and Sophia Garzoli. Garvin will be a utility player who brings decent size to the front, while Garzoli, who was a contributing field hockey player for Blue Raiders and recreational outdoor volleyball player, will also see time on the court. Garzoli’s field hockey season usually conflicts with the volleyball season and with it being moved this year she had the opportunity to take advantage of playing for Hopedale.
Rounding out the Blue Raiders squad will be freshman Kelsey Evans and sophomore Riley Thomson, who will both be challenging for an outside hitter position; freshman Sydney Hall, the back-up setter; sophomore Ana Almeida, defense, and sophomore April Mason, the back-up middle hitter. 
Over the past four or five seasons Hopedale has always managed to challenge for the top of the Dual Valley Conference and although a first year Coach Ridolfi expects nothing less from his team again this season. According to the coach, they will be prepared and pus every team that takes the court.
Although there will be a shortened season there will be no post-season play following that season.
“The girls are definitely disappointed that there will be no tournament this year, but that are grateful to have a season,” the Hopedale Coach said. “The fact that they get to play a game they love while continuing to stay healthy and safe is a big plus. They are looking forward to getting onto the court and competing at a high level once again.”