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PROVIDENCEâDown one of its top player, the Prout girls volleyball team gave Division I-North regular season champ Classical all it could handle in the opening round of the D-I playoffs Thursday.
Though not for lack of effort, the Crusaders ultimately couldnât keep pace with the Purple as Classical advanced to the D-I semifinals thanks to its 25-20, 19-25, 25-12, 25-19 victory over Prout.
âThey played the best they did all season,â Prout coach Katie Walsh said by phone Monday. âThey really wanted to win that game.â
The Crusaders entered Friday nightâs game without outside hitter junior Olivia Hirst â who has not played since spraining her ankle against Coventry on Oct. 24 â but got a tremendous performance from senior Cat Schmidt in her stead.
âIt wasnât as big [of a problem] as we thought it was going to be,â Walsh said of not having Hirst. âClearly Olivia is one of the best players we have but Cat Schmidt really stepped up and played great on the right side.â
Fridayâs game marked the final in the careers of seniors Allie Chretien, Katie Burns, Grace Pendergast, Abby Lyons and Schmidt.
Exiting in the quarterfinals was a little sooner than Walsh had hoped for her squad, even if she admits her goal for the team was âa little ambitious.â
âThe entire season I was hoping to get to the championship,â Walsh said, âbut they really showed great improvement.â
The Crusaders will certainly miss the contributions their senior made to make that progress but with the majority of their roster returning next fall Walsh is optimistic about her teamâs prospects going forward.
âA lot of our underclassmen are big players,â Walsh said. âMost of the girls play volleyball in the offseason too. Iâm really excited.â