EAST GREENWICH – There has been little doubt all season that the East Greenwich girls volleyball team is amongst the best there is in Division II. As the weeks and matches roll along, however, any doubt Narragansett is the very best is quickly dissipating.
Coming into Monday night’s match when the two teams met on the Avengers’ home court, the Mariners had handled every challenge thrown at their way this season.
They were a perfect 6-0, having already beaten the likes of perennial favorite Exeter-West Greenwich, and all six of those wins came by a perfect 3-0 score. The Avengers were close behind in the standings, nipping at the Mariners’ heels at 5-1 having won the second most sets in Division I-South (17 to Narragansett’s 18), but that did not stop the Mariners from keeping to form, dispatching their hosts 25-21, 25-20, 25, 25-18.
“You have to give credit to the girls, they pulled through,” said Narragansett coach Abby Hummel. “They came from behind in every one of those and pushed back and regained the lead, so you can only give credit to them. It’s their hearts and their desires. They could sink if they want, but they chose to push through it.”
The night was not a particularly good one for the Avengers. Playing without the services of outside hitter Spencer Taylor, the reshuffled East Greenwich lineup struggled to find any kind of rhythm all night against the division’s top seed. Despite their issues, EG still made Narragansett work for their victory as each of the first two games were long battles that followed similar patterns in which neither side got any sort of considerable margin until late.
In each of the first two games, Narragansett grabbed the first two points, but East kept things tight and eventually clawed their way into the lead.
The Avengers were first trailing 9-6 in game one before reeling off five straight to take an 11-9 lead. The Mariners quickly laid the hammer down, taking 12 of the next 15 points for a 21-14 lead en route to the 25-21 win.
The Avengers hung around a little longer in game two, holding the lead on five different occasions, even as late as 17-16, but never opened up anything more than a three-point advantage. A team that has become accustomed to getting better as games progressed struggled to find their game when it mattered most on Monday night.
“I guess it was one of those days, I don’t have an answer for that,” said East Greenwich coach Terri Garno. “I’m interested to find out myself, where they were [mentally] because I don’t even think they ended strong. I think they had like a flash here and there of intensity and I think that intensity was coming from two kids on the court. …They’re lacking that edge. They don’t have it all the time.
“They have it when they want it.”
With a commanding 2-0 lead in the match and East in search of answers, Narragansett easily put the night away in game three.
The Mariners had opened up the night’s biggest lead at 17-8 before the Avengers could manage consecutive points in the final game, but by then it was too late to mount an offensive.
Runs of three and five points helped close the gap to 23-18, but Narragansett’s lead was never truly threatened as they won the next two points to seal things with a 25-18 win.
Despite all their early season success, Narragansett has yet to hit the halfway point on their schedule and Hummel is trying to keep everything in perspective as the fall rolls along, knowing that as nice as being undefeated might sound, there are far greater achievements to strive for down the road.
“I’m not worried about losing a set. I wouldn’t have worried if we lost a set tonight,” said the Mariners coach. “We’re not trying to go undefeated, we’re trying to win a division. It’s a big difference.
“…I ask them to show up every day at practice and that’s what they do. They give me everything they’ve got and I’ve always been very honest with them. I’ve said it since day one, ‘I don’t know you. I don’t know you from your past. I know you from this moment on, so if you don’t show me what you have, I’m not going to trust you to be out there.’
“And those girls that are out there have shown me. The girls on the bench have shown me. I’m comfortable putting them all in where they’re in and I tell them that all the time.”
The Mariners will be back in action today at 6:30 p.m. when they travel to West Warwick on Wednesday and will wrap up the week and Warwick Vets.