EAST GREENWICH – There may not have been many given the number of returning players off of a successful 2012 squad, but any doubts the East Greenwich High School girls volleyball team should be considered amongst the best in Division II have already been squashed, just two weeks into the season.
After easing into the season in their first week with comfortable wins over Warwick Vets and Pilgrim, the Avengers got a good, early test to see what they were made of as their second week of play pitted them against the reigning state champion and runner-up, Exeter-West Greenwich and Cranston West.
Though they eventually fell to the 2012 champion last Tuesday, they at one point held a 2-1 advantage over Exeter-West Greenwich before dropping the last two games and then the match to the Scarlet Knights, 25-14, 24-26, 22-25, 25-16, 15-7.
On Thursday at home against Cranston West, however, it was the Avengers making the come back, dropping the first game before sweeping the rest of the match for the 21-25, 25-18, 25-20, 25-11 win.
“I definitely knew they could perform and getting to see that in action is definitely a positive thing,” said EG coach Terri Garno.
Things did not start pretty for the Avengers against the Falcons. After taking the first point of the first game, Avengers proceeded to give up 10 straight, many of which came as a result of unforced errors.
East was able to get their game together and rally, clawing their way back to cut the deficit to just one at 22-21, but a three point run by Cranston West put the game away.
“We got in our head,” Garno said. “I don’t know if it’s the heat or what it is, but they got in their head with the serve reception and they just couldn’t put it together. Then they out scored them for the rest of the game until the very end there, so it worked out.”
Though they lost, the first game set the tone for East Greenwich as they continued to get better as the night wore on. The two sides battled it out over the next two games with neither side able to gain any sort of considerable margin. The Avengers would take both for a 2-1 match lead.
Unlike earlier in the week against Exeter-West Greenwich, this time the Avengers were able to find another gear in the fourth game.
“Finally started serving like we can,” Garno said. “Serving’s our strength and the last two matches we had really been struggling with it. I’m not sure why. A lot of missed serves. Definitely cleaned it up considering the last match we missed 25 serves.”
The fourth game started like the two before it with neither side able to open up more than a three-point lead. Then, with the score at 11-9 in favor of the Avengers, EG took off to close out their opponent, putting away eight straight and 14 of the next 16 points to slam the door on the Falcons, notching their third win of the season.
On the night, Phoebe Wong led the way with eight aces and 20 assists, while Jenna Pelosi returned to the lineup and led EG with seven kills. Joya Pelosi added five kills to her team-high three blocks, as did Kristin Carosotto.
Despite the statement they may have made last week going toe-to-toe with such challenging opponents and as good as the results have been to this point, their coach knows it is just a stepping stone and there is still work to be done for the Avengers to find success deeper into the season.
“Yeah, 3-1, I’ll take it,” Garno said. “It is a good place to start. What’s nice is all the things we need to work on, we can work on. It’s not a lack of energy. It’s not a lack of motivation. I never have to tell my kids to play up. They’re playing up. They’re doing a nice job with that. The things we need to work on are skills.
“I have a young team. I have one senior out on the court, so I have a young team and I’m pretty optimistic about that.”
The Avengers good fortunes continued on Tuesday as they traveled to Westerly High School and once again took three out of four games to improve their record to 4-1, which puts them in a three-way tie for second place in Division II South. They will close out their week going back on the road on Thursday night for a 6:30 p.m. match against Scituate High School.