Spike in interest leads to girls' volleyball at Portsmouth High

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PORTSMOUTH — They lost three straight games to Middletown Friday night, but the coach of the girls' volleyball team at Portsmouth High School sees good things ahead for her squad.

"They're picking it up," said Lisa Zable, who teaches science at the school. "They're getting better every day. They're definitely going to be a force, hopefully by the end of the year. We're still trying to figure out the rotation."

The team is still learning its way because, well, it's brand new this year. This is the first time the school has had a girls' volleyball team since anyone can remember.

"I've kind of heard mixed things," said Ms. Zable, adding it's been "at least 20 years" since the sport's been offered at the school. "You hear different things from different people."

The sport was re-established because of a strong demand from female athletes, who pleaded with school administrators, met with the School Committee and did their own fund-raisers.

"I was just the teacher who helped them, but it came from the girls. They're the ones who talked to (PHS Principal Robert) Littlefield," said Ms. Zable, adding that she merely provided guidance to the athletes.

"It was definitely student-driven," added Stephen Trezvant, athletic director. "We had a large number of students over the past couple of years who were asking for the sport to be put in."

There is no boys' volleyball team at PHS since there doesn't seem to be enough interest in starting one yet, Mr. Trezvant said. "We've got to make sure there is a real keen interest" before a new sport is added, he said.

Nearly 50 girls tried out for the team, which has 25 members.

Against Middletown, the game scores were 18-25, 19-25 and 23-25.

"They kept right up with them," said Ms. Zable. "They're learning the game fast. They're really excited and they keep bringing it every day."

The team's next game is Friday at Saint Raphael Academy in Pawtucket. The next home game is at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 24, against Rogers High School.

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Jim McGaw

A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.