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Mascenic girls volleyball coach Missy Salo named Division III Coach of the Year

When Mascenic girls volleyball coach Missy Salo got the e-mail about the all-state awards, it was late Sunday evening.

So the second-year varsity coach, in her second stint with the program, scrolled through to see which of her players were selected. She went through the first team and did not see any. In the list of nine for the second team, there was senior Casey Thoel. On the honorable mention squad, she saw junior Cheyanne Sauvola’s name.

And then she scrolled down to the major end of season awards, just to see who had won, and there was a name that completely took her off guard.

That’s because it was hers.

Salo was chosen as the 2012 Division III Varsity Coach of the Year, winning the award for the first time in her six-year coaching career that was broken up by a three-year hiatus. The award is voted on by the 22 coaches in Division III and the one with the most votes earns the honor.

“I was obviously shocked,” said Salo on Monday. “It feels amazing. To be voted on by all the other coaches and get the award is humbling.”

Salo never even thought she would be in the consideration. With Campbell going a perfect 16-0 in the regular season and grabbing the No. 1 seed, she was all but certain that the Cougars’ coach Colin Walker would get the nod. And the Vikings were just the eight seed.

“That’s what really shocked me,” said Salo.

Salo guided the Vikings to an 11-5 mark in the regular season. Mascenic began the year with five straight wins and advanced to the quarterfinals with a 3-1 win over Epping in the D-III prelims. But in the quarterfinals, Salo and the Vikings were eliminated by Campbell, which accounted for three of the Vikings’ six losses. Two of the team’s other losses came against No. 4 Hillsboro-Deering. Of the team’s 11 wins, seven came by 3-0 sweeps and the Vikings also owned a 6-5 record against playoff teams.

But with that postseason opening win, Salo saw something in her team that she had been waiting for. It was exactly the kind of performance she knew her players had in them. It was a complete team effort.

“That pretty much summed up our year,” said Salo. “They played so well in that match.”

Salo remembers the first scrimmage they had against Milford and is still a little shocked in how far her team came over the course of the season. Everything improved for the Vikings.

“I heard from our players about how far I had taken them,” said Salo. “This group, their commitment outweighed all the other years. It was by far one of our best years.”

And while she is honored with the award, it is not something she gave any thought to. All she wanted was for her team to reach its potential and Salo is satisfied saying that they did. While she would have loved to advance further in the Division III tournament, the second year coach wouldn’t mind using it as motivation for next year.

“Part of me said, after winning the award, I need to kick it up a notch for next year,” Salo said.

Salo began her volleyball coaching career at Boynton Middle School in New Ipswich. She coached the Bulldogs in 2002-03. In 2004, Salo took the Mascenic junior varsity job for two years before a one-year tenure as the varsity coach in 2006, where she took the Vikings to the semifinals. She left the program following that season and returned as the JV coach in 2010. Last year, Salo guided the varsity team to a 9-8 record.

In three years as the varsity coach, Salo owns an overall record of 33-21.

A 1988 Mascenic graduate, Salo won two state volleyball titles and advanced to the semifinals twice during her high school playing career.

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