PROVIDENCE — It's never good when a team has a bad day.
It's the worst when it occurs with everything on the line, which is what happened to the East Providence High School girls' …
PROVIDENCE — It's never good when a team has a bad day.
It's the worst when it occurs with everything on the line, which is what happened to the East Providence High School girls' volleyball club last weekend.
The best team during the Division II regular season, top-seeded and undefeated Chariho emphatically capped a perfect 2022 when the Chargers dismissed the second-seeded Townies in three sets for the league championship Saturday night, Nov. 12 at Rhode Island College’s Walsh Gymnasium.
Chariho finished with an unblemished 18-0 record in D-II outings this fall following its 25-18, 25-9 and 26-24 over EPHS, which saw its first season down in the state’s second tier conclude with a 15-3 overall mark in league games.
As well as East Providence played in its sweeps of Mt. Hope and Cumberland, the seventh and third seeds, respectively, in the quarterfinals and semis, that’s how poor the Townies’ effort was against the Chargers.
“There’s really not much to say about it. We didn’t play. You could say nerves. It happens,” said EPHS head coach Alex Butler. “I told them it’s the most helpless feeling for me. It really didn’t matter what I said. It wasn’t going to change anything. And it wasn’t like it was one or two. Everyone was off. It wasn’t us today. It’s crazy how it happens. It’s sports. It hurts, but it happens.”
EPHS avenged one of its two previous losses with the 3-0 win over the Clippers in the final four. The locals, however, couldn’t do the same in the championship match. Chariho handed the Townies the second of only two regular setbacks in five tough games — 24-26, 25-16, 21-25, 25-22, 15-11 — on October 3.
"I think first time we met it was the first time we had a match thus far this season that was really back and forth," Chariho head coach Kathy McGeehan said of the how the teams' first meeting helped prepare her side for the final encounter. "I thought it was a great learning experience and that set us up to just be prepared for that type of a volleyball game today."
The Chargers spotted East Providence the first point of the match, but ripped off eight of the next nine forcing Butler to call his first timeout of the night. It was pretty noticeable from the beginning the Townies were a bit tight. EPHS was the side making more and uncommon mistakes, a pattern that continued the rest of the contest.
The Townies found themselves down 20-12 before they got on a bit of a run, scoring the next four points in a row and forcing a Chariho timeout. Julia Williamson served for an ace and Emma Nordquist had a kill to cut E.P.’s deficit to 20-14, but the Townies would get no closer. The teams traded service errors on the final two points, East Providence’s leading to the seven-point margin of victory for the Chargers.
Game 2 followed a similar pattern. Chariho raced to a 9-1 lead capped by an Emma Kocab ace. The Chargers would eventually see their lead reach 13-1 before Keira Quadros stopped the spurt with a kill for East Providence. But the Townies could only get as close as 14-6 the rest of the way, on a Nordquist ace and a rare Chariho miscue. East Providence, in fact, erred on seven of the next 12 points to pretty much give the Chargers the 16-point win.
To their credit, though, the Townies didn’t go away quietly, offering up their best effort in Game 3, although it proved not to be enough.
East Providence, missing any spark all match, took its first two-point lead of the night by scoring the first two points of the set. Malia Mullen’s dink kill put the locals up 2-0. Soon after, the junior put down a conventional spike to give the Townies a 3-1 lead. It would next reach 4-1, before Chariho answered.
The Chargers later tied it at four and for the next few sideouts the score remained level. Chariho were next to edge ahead, leading 13-8 prior to a response from the Townies, which Mullen’s third kill of the game.
E.P. would claw all the way back and into the lead, 20-19, on a Keira Mullen kill and a Brookelyn Feola block. The Townies actually led 21-19 after a Chariho passing error, though that was erased by an E.P. miscue and one of Jules White’s match-best 10 kills for the Chargers. White would later serve for an ace on game, match and championship point.
"I was hoping we would stay focused on what we’ve been focusing on all year long, the process of a tough game from the service line, taking it one point at a time and not focusing on the scoreboard," McGeehan said the Chargers' showing Saturday. "We wanted to take care of who we are. We like to think of ourselves as being relentless on defense and touch balls no matter where they are, and I think we were able to stay to the gameplan."
The D-II title was one of four decided Saturday, including two others won by city-based sides. Providence Country Day captured the Division IV championship and St. Mary Academy-Bay View the D-III crown. The Townies were attempting to make it three on the trot for East Providence teams. North Kingstown finished the festivities by winning the D-I state championship.
“Tonight’s match has no bearing on how I feel about the group or what they accomplished this year. They energized the volleyball program, also the school and all of that,” Butler said, referring to EPHS rebounding from poor showings the last few seasons while still Division I.
He added, “Overall, this is an unbelievable experience to work with them. The seniors have been fantastic for four years. It didn’t end the way we wanted, but eight teams came to play today and only four can win. And unfortunately one of those four wasn’t us.”
The top seed in D-IV, PCD swept Hope by the scores of 25-15, 25-20 and 25-18 to win its title to finish with a 15-1 record in league games this fall. Previously, the Knights swept the Blue Wave and beat Hope in five during their two regular season meetings.
Bay View avenged its only league loss (3-0 to C.F.) in defeating the Warriors 3-1 by the scores of 22-25, 25-12, 25-22, 25-23 to finish with an 11-1 overall league mark.
No. 1 seed N.K. swept rival South Kingstown (28-26, 25-20, 25-22) for the state championship.
— East Providence Post and eastbayri.com contributing photographer Julie Furtado shot the accompanying gallery of photos.