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McMahon’s Pellegrino harnesses grief and goals while leading Senators in 2016

Publised Monday, Jan. 23, in The Hour

It was a Friday night, in the middle of the volleyball season, when Brien McMahon outside hitter Meredith Pellegrino lost her No. 1 fan.

Pellegrino serves up a winner. — Dave Stewart/HAN Network photo

The Senators were getting ready to face Fairfield Warde in a road contest when her grandfather, Joseph Ienner — the beloved “Papa Joe,” as he was called by her teammates — collapsed in the stands before the start of the game.

Ienner couldn’t be revived and all of a sudden, Pellegrino — with a handful of goals and dreams still in front of her — was forced to forge ahead without Papa Joe in the stands for the remaining games of her volleyball career.

“He pushed me more than anybody in the world did, you know?” Pellegrino said, recounting her relationship with the man who embraced her switch from a life-long soccer career to volleyball just four years ago. “It was so hard. First game back (I) was playing Warde again after it happened, and that was hard because they all witnessed it, too.

“But I knew what he would want me to do,” Pellegrino added. “‘Get out there and play your heart out, don’t (screw) up.’ I just went out there with that mentality and played for him.”

To read the rest of this story from John Nash of The Hour, click here

Meredith Pellegrino gets ready for a serve during the FCIAC volleyball championship in November. — Dave Stewart/HAN Network photo

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