EAST PROVIDENCE — Just a week after the sides went the five-game distance in a regular season encounter, host East Providence High School swept its way past Mt. Hope before a raucous packed …
EAST PROVIDENCE — Just a week after the sides went the five-game distance in a regular season encounter, host East Providence High School swept its way past Mt. Hope before a raucous packed crowd at Ramos Gymnasium/Carvalho Court in their Division II quarterfinal round girls’ volleyball playoff match Friday night, Nov. 4.
The Townies, seeded second, dispatched the visiting Huskies, seeded seventh, by the scores of 25-14, 29-27 and 25-15.
Brooklyn Feola and Kate Bernhardt paced EPHS with eight kills apiece. Feola added 12 digs and four service aces. Bernhardt chipped in two aces. Daniella Escudero had 15 digs and seven aces. Mia Shaw led Mt. Hope with eight assists, 13 digs and 11 aces.
“This group has never played in a playoff game. It’s different. There’s a different feel. You have to play with a little more desperation, but you still have to execute, and they did a realy nice job,” said EPHS head coach Alex Butler.
East Providence, which improved to 15-2 in league matches on the fall, advanced to the semifinals where the Townies will host third-seeded Cumberland Wednesday night, Nov. 9, at 6:30. The 14-3 Clippers defeated sixth-seeded Westerly in their quarter.
“They beat us the first time 3-1 (24-26, 25-20, 29-31, 20-25 on September 19). We did not play real well. We had a bunch of errors. I don’t remember the exact total but it was our high for the season,” Butler said of the rematch with Cumberland. “But they’re a different team and we’re a different team. I’ve been saying to the girls, you don’t have to be the best team, you have to be the best team on that day. We’re going to work and prepare and get ourselves ready. We get to come back and play another game. That’s the fun part.”
Top-seeded and unbeaten Chariho (17-0) was set to face fourth-seeded Middletown in the other semifinal match.
Mt. Hope, which beat 10th-seeded Lincoln High in a preliminary round earlier last week, saw its 2022 season end with a 10-8 overall mark in league outings.
Last Friday’s quarterfinal contest was a far cry from the teams’ previous match also played at East Providence on October 25 when the Townies edged the Huskies by the scores of 25-22, 16-25, 25-10, 16-25 and 17-15.
In the playoffs, Mt. Hope scored the opening two points of the first game before Escudero toed the service line for the next 10 in a row, seven of which the Huskies were unable to return back over the net.
The Townies spent the rest of Game 1 in cruise control en route to the 11-point win.
“I feel like we played really good, we played as a team compared to the last time. We did so much better. Throughout the week we were so prepared. We’re just happy to go to the semifinals,” Escudero said.
Game 2, as the 56 total points would indicate, was much tighter. The Huskies again took an early lead, but this time were able to maintain it deep into the contest.
E.P. edged its way back and eventually tied it at 18 on consecutive Escudero aces. The Townies were actually first to game point, leading 24-22 on a Malia Mullen kill.
“We weren’t really focused the last time we played . We were really nervous because it was senior night,” Escudero added, reflecting on the Townies’ performance against the Huskies 10 days prior before another big, vocal home crowd.
The teams, though, then traded errors and kills the rest of the way. Mt. Hope took its last lead, 27-26, on an EPHS hitting miscue. The Huskies proceeded to return the favor in the form of poor passing then a bad hit. The Townies finally won it on a Feola spike.
Similar to Game 1, what proved the last of the night went pretty much the Townies way from the start. East Providence opened up a 6-1 and wouldn’t lead by less the rest of the way.
The Townies reached 20 points on a Mt. Hope hitting error followed immediately by a Julia Williamson block and a Feola kill to up their lead to 22-11. A bit later the last of the Huskies’ hitting miscues on the evening accounted for the final point of the match.
“It was good. The girls had a great week of prep to get ready. I said to them yesterday, ‘We’re ready to play.’ They followed the game plan, things we were looking for,” Butler added of the Townies’ overall effort against Mt. Hope. “We watched the film again from the first match and we saw some things we wanted to exploit. And we did a really nice job with that.”