Barnstable High girls volleyball team aces it on the court and in the classroom

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EDITOR'S NOTE: This article has been updated to correct the byline. Mike Richard reported on and wrote the story.

BARNSTABLE — Over the past several decades, the Barnstable High volleyball teams of coach Tom Turco have compiled some very impressive streaks.

Turco’s squads have qualified for the postseason tournament for the past 33 consecutive seasons, have captured the South Sectional championship 25 times – including a one-time run of 10 in a row – and have won an unprecedented 18 state championships.

Just as impressive is the fact that the team is on a 10-year American Volleyball Coaches Association Team Academic Award-winning streak, after being so honored once again this year.

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“I’m real proud that they understand the value of academics,” said Turco. “Academics is going to get them much further in life than volleyball and will open a lot of doors for them.”

The 2021-22 Barnstable High School girls volleyball team pictured at this year’s Homecoming Dance include, Front row: Dierdre Mullin, Cayleigh Fleming, Allison Nystrom, Neely Alger, Kailey Cordeira, Emma Corley, Laura Cogswell. Back row: Mackenzie Vetorino, Lillie Ells, Molly Fredo, Lindsay Jones, Charlotte Sullivan, Sadie Wellbeloved, Logan Hurwitz, Molly Gleason. Missing from the photo was Teagan Geraghty.
The 2021-22 Barnstable High School girls volleyball team pictured at this year’s Homecoming Dance include, Front row: Dierdre Mullin, Cayleigh Fleming, Allison Nystrom, Neely Alger, Kailey Cordeira, Emma Corley, Laura Cogswell. Back row: Mackenzie Vetorino, Lillie Ells, Molly Fredo, Lindsay Jones, Charlotte Sullivan, Sadie Wellbeloved, Logan Hurwitz, Molly Gleason. Missing from the photo was Teagan Geraghty.

The award, first initiated by the American Volleyball Coaches Association in the 1992/93 academic year, honors teams that maintain a year-long grade-point average of 3.3 on a 4.0 scale.

Team maintained high grade-point average

Barnstable recorded an overall team grade-point average of 3.57 out of a possible 4.0 for the school year.

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“Academic achievement does not happen by accident,” said AVCA executive director Kathy DeBoer in a press release. “I’m so proud of the hundreds of coaching staffs that make excellence in the classroom a priority.”

Barnstable was one of 13 Massachusetts high schools earning MAVCA/AVCA Team Academic Honors for the 2021/22 school year. Its 10-year AVCA award streak is second to only Longmeadow High, which has been honored for its 15-year statewide streak.

Allison Nystrom (17) and Charlotte Sullivan of Barnstable go up to block a Franklin shot in the MIAA Division 1 round of 8 volleyball match last November in Franklin.
Allison Nystrom (17) and Charlotte Sullivan of Barnstable go up to block a Franklin shot in the MIAA Division 1 round of 8 volleyball match last November in Franklin.

“It goes hand in hand. Girls know what they need to do in the classroom and we often talk of the similarities,” Turco said. “We talk about having confidence in what you’re doing, being ready and prepared. They got that whole work ethic even before they got to the gym.”

Those girls whose collective GPAs determined the team’s average were seniors Nealy Alger, Laura Cogswell, Kailey Cordeira, Emma Corley, Cayleigh Fleming, Dierdre Mullin and Allison Nystrom, and juniors Lindsey Jones, Lillie Ells and Mackenzie Vetorino.

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Underclassmen included sophomores Molly Fredo, Logan Hurwitz, Charlotte Sullivan and Sadie Wellbeloved, and freshmen Teagan Geraghty and Molly Gleason.

Turco praised the work of Barnstable guidance counselor Shawn Kingman and administrative assistant Meghan Cordeira, who helped to compile the student grade statistics for consideration.

Neely Alger of Barnstable digs out a Franklin serve in the MIAA Division 1 round of 8 volleyball match last November in Franklin.
Neely Alger of Barnstable digs out a Franklin serve in the MIAA Division 1 round of 8 volleyball match last November in Franklin.

Previously it had been the job of longtime assistant coach Jessi (Goode) Roundtree, who annually amassed and submitted all of the information to the AVCA. However, she was not with the team this spring following the birth of her second child.

Making time for school work a priority

“There is research out there that states that students’ grades are higher during their sports season,” said Turco. “It’s almost an eat-sleep-practice-study structure like that.”

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He recalled that in the early 2000s, the team would hold practice right after 2 p.m. school dismissal, but sometimes the girls would come late because they were involved in after-school projects.

“We decided to delay our practice time to 3:15, so the girls could work on projects or get extra help if needed,” Turco said, adding that a study hall is also held for the girls the first hour after school.

The system has worked over the years and Turco noted he could not remember any player of his that over the past two decades did not go to college.

“These kids are just brilliant students,” he said, noting it also transfers to the volleyball court. “They also understand the concepts of opponent player tendencies. They get into this in film sessions, which we also treat as a classroom.”

Of his recently graduated senior class, Allison Nystrom will attend the U. S. Coast Guard Academy and will also play volleyball there.

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Meantime, Laura Cogswell accepted a full four-year caddy’s scholarship to the University of Miami of Ohio, while Emma Corley will go to Worcester Polytechnic Institute for engineering.

Of the other graduates, Neely Alger and Kailey Cordeira will both attend UMass-Amherst, Dierdre Mullin will play lacrosse at Franklin Pierce University and Cayleigh Fleming will matriculate at the University of Maine.

Mike Richard can be contacted by email at mikerichard0725@gmail.com. 

This article originally appeared on Cape Cod Times: Barnstable girls volleyball team receives academic honor from AVCA