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PROVIDENCEâ€”Down 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 couldnâ€™t 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.
â€śThey played the best they did all season,â€ť Prout coach Katie Walsh said by phone Monday. â€śThey really wanted to win that game.â€ť
The Crusaders entered Friday nightâ€™s 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.
â€śIt wasnâ€™t as big [of a problem] as we thought it was going to be,â€ť Walsh said of not having Hirst. â€śClearly Olivia is one of the best players we have but Cat Schmidt really stepped up and played great on the right side.â€ť
Fridayâ€™s 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 â€śa little ambitious.â€ť
â€śThe entire season I was hoping to get to the championship,â€ť Walsh said, â€śbut they really showed great improvement.â€ť
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 teamâ€™s prospects going forward.
â€śA lot of our underclassmen are big players,â€ť Walsh said. â€śMost of the girls play volleyball in the offseason too. Iâ€™m really excited.â€ť