EAST PROVIDENCE — The East Providence High School girls’ volleyball team shook off some opening round postseason jitters to eventually sweep its way past visiting North Kingstown, 3-0, in the quarterfinals of the Division I State Championship Tournament Monday night, Nov. 5.
The Townies didn’t play particularly well early, but managed to escape with a 26-24 victory in Game 1. E.P. picked up its effort in Game 2, winning by a relatively comfortable 25-13 score. The locals best performance came in Game 3 as they cruised to a 25-14 win.
“I thought we were a little tighter than I thought we would be to start,” EPHS head coach Alex Butler said. “We were loose in warm-ups and looked ready to go, but then we came out and got down right away.
“I try very hard to stay positive with this team because they’re very hard on themselves. I called a time out and told them this is what you do every day all season and for some of them the last four years. I thought we finally started to settle down. And North Kingstown is a young team. They started making mistakes, and I thought our experience and talent began to take over.”
The Townies trailed by as many as five (8-3) to open the first game before gradually chipping away at their deficit. The Skippers maintained their edge to 18-14, but E.P. scored the next six to take the lead. Lindsee Allienello and Nicole Strik each had kills. Izzy Newton served an ace and Strik hit a cross-court kill to bring the locals back even. Newton served another ace, which tipped off the net and the Skippers then committed a hitting error to give E.P. a 20-18 lead.
North answered with two points in a row to tie the score. The teams then traded points to 24-all. The Townies actually scored the final three points to secure the win. Mary Monagle put down a two-handed spike off a poor Skippers’ pass. North next was called for a carrying violation. Leah Drolet then ended the game in the locals’ favor with a similar two-hand quick hit off a 50-50 ball at the net.
The next two games proved much easier victories for the locals. A Drolet quick tip gave E.P. a 10-7 lead in Game 2. Later, her block make the score 20-13. The Townies’ run of six points in row to end the contest concluded with a Monagle service ace. E.P. played much cleaner in the second, passed the ball better and took control of the net.
The Townies carried that momentum into the third. Even though they actually allowed one more point than they did in the second, the locals had a much easier go of it and were never really challenged. A Monagle kill put E.P. up 10-5 early in the game. Later, Strik ended the contest and the match with a kill off a North Kingstown block.
Monagle, one of the Townies’ senior co-captains, finished the evening with a team-best 12 kills off 19 attempts for a superb 47 percent hitting performance. She added four aces and six digs. Drolet added eight kills and four blocks. Newton, the E.P. setter, finished with 22 assists.
“Mary was a monster for us tonight. She played great. Leah also had a very good night,” Butler added.
The Townies (14-3) advance to the state semifinals Wednesday night, Nov. 7, at the University of Rhode Island’s Keaney Gym opposite top-seeded Prout at 8 o’clock. The 16-1 Crusaders, likewise, swept Bay View (25-15, 29-27, 25-12) from the quarters. Prout and E.P. met twice this fall. The Crusaders swept the Townies in the regular season and also defeated the locals in the Koch Eye Tournament.
“It’s going to be a tough match. Prout has had our number so far this season. They swept us down there (in Wakefield, Sept. 24). We played pretty bad, but they have a lot of talent. They have seasoned, cagey players. They hit and pass the ball well. They have a good all-court game,” Butler said.
“We need to be on our game if we want to go down there to URI and win,” he added. “Anything can happen when you get down there. It’s going to be difficult, but that’s why you play the game.”