WARWICK—As it is for most teams this time of year, the Narragansett girls volleyball team is still shaking off the rust.
The Mariners – who are among a handful of preseason favorites to be contenders in Division II this season – kicked off their fall with a 25-16, 25-13, 25-21 victory over a less talented Pilgrim squad Tuesday.
“We did get a little relaxed when we got a lead but I loved it,” Narragansett coach Abby Hummel said. “I loved their effort, I thought they played well next to players and I liked how they’re looking.”
While Narragansett never really seemed in danger of dropping a game against the Patriots, there were a handful of opportunities to close Pilgrim out quickly of which the Mariners could not take advantage.
’Gansett came out of the gate strong Tuesday en route to a 14-9 lead but a string of four straight unforced errors allowed the Patriots to crawl within one.
Pilgrim hung around over the next seven points – trailing just 18-16 – but in the final stretch the Mariners did what a good team is supposed to do and closed the Patriots out.
A kill from senior Leia Mistowski returned the serve to Narragansett and the Mariners never gave it back as they closed out the game with senior Kelsey Hagan at the line.
The Mariners’ momentum carried into the second game – storming out to a 5-0 lead – but Pilgrim answered with three straight points of its own.
The Patriots kept the deficit to just 7-4 when Narragansett began to pick up the pace and played what was likely its best volleyball of the evening.
The Mariners ripped off an 11-4 run to take an 18-8 lead before closing out the match in impressive fashion with seven unanswered points.
After taking the first two games decidedly it seemed like only a matter of time before the Mariners closed out the match.
That is, however, how Narragansett played to start the third and Pilgrim took advantage for an early 4-1 lead on a series of Mariner miscues.
The Patriots maintained their lead and bid for a fourth game through the first 13 points before Narragansett finally tied the game at 7-all with an ace.
After the ensuing serve sailed wide the Mariners tied it again on the following rally on a tip from junior Abby McKanna and from there never looked back.
McKanna’s tip was the catalyst to a 7-0 Mariner run as Narragansett went on to build a comfortable 10-11 lead.
’Gansett seemed poised for an easy final victory as it maintained a healthy advantage of 24-16 before Pilgrim – aided by some tight play from the Mariners – survived four straight match points to crawl within 24-20, forcing Hummel to use a timeout.
The message was clear out of the break as Narragansett was more aggressive but Pilgrim picked up another point as a strong swing from McKanna found its way into the net to make it 24-21.
McKanna did not wait long to make amends though as her kill on the ensuing rally closed out the straight-set victory for the Mariners.
“When they get a lead they kind of get like, ‘oh, I’m at a volleyball game’ when really they should get more excited every point until you push that third game and you’re done,” Hummel said. “That’s something to be worked on. Every game you learn something so we learned something today.”
Overall it was a good showing for Narragansett in its opener but the team still has a ways to go if it wants to make it to Keaney Gymnasium.
“We’re still coming together,” McKanna said. “We haven’t had that many practices but I think if we keep practicing more we’ll come together more as a team and hopefully succeed.
“…We kind of had trouble with winning more towards the end last year – like more towards playoff time – and this year if we can keep the mentality of team work and positivity it will help us a lot.”
The Mariners will be in store for a much stronger challenge next time out as they will take on two-time defending champ Exeter-West Greenwich at home today at 6:30 p.m.
“We’ll get a real test early in the season, which I don’t mind,” Hummel said. “Sometimes it’s good to get knocked down a notch and I’m really glad we didn’t have to play them first. I’ve never seen them play but from the rumors I hear I’m happy we aren’t playing them first so we get a rhythm going.”