SOUTH KINGSTOWN—Wins have been hard to come by this year for the Chariho girls volleyball team.
With just three on the season, the Chargers found themselves on the opposite end of the Division I-South standings as they traveled to face third place South Kingstown Tuesday night.
It was an upset in the making that fell just three points short as South Kingstown escaped with the 25-17, 25-18, 19-25, 22-25, 15-12 win.
“I thought they played well,” said Chargers coach Doug Bliven. “It was the first time this season we’ve been down 0-2 and showed that resiliency to bounce back. It’s not that we had any hoorah speech, they just knew they had to take it one point at a time, one game at a time and they gave themselves an opportunity to win.”
Despite the disparity in win totals between the two, it was a battle from the first serve.
Though South Kingstown took the first two games of the match, there was no easy going for the Rebels as the Chargers made their opponents work for their points.
Neither team could open up much of a lead in the opening game, never getting more than two points ahead through the first half of the contest.
Clinging to a slim 14-13 lead, the Rebels dominated along the net and finally put a run together, taking five straight and 11-of-15 to seal the win at 25-17 and put themselves up 1-0.
While South gave themselves a little more of a cushion early, opening up an 8-3 advantage over the Chargers, game two featured much of the same as the first.
The Rebels were in the drivers seat all the way, but it was not until late that they put some distance between themselves and the Chargers.
Again up by just one at 16-15, the Rebels saw another late spurt with Steph Laraway on the serve and the Chargers struggling to receive. It was another five-point run to get some breathing room before closing out the game 25-18.
Though hard fought from the beginning, it looked as though the Rebels were going waste no time in dispatching their opponents as the first two games went by quickly.
As they had already shown, the Chargers were not about to go quietly though and turned what was a near runaway into a match once again.
“I think the first two games we were trying to figure out where they were trying to go,” Bliven said. “Once we knew that information, we were able to set up our defense up at the net a little bit better. It helped us be a little more competitive.
“It’s nice to know we can do that as a coaching staff, give them that information. That’s a lot to handle while you’re playing, so it’s good to see that they can do that and they can implement those plays.”
In game three the Chargers did what the Rebels had failed to do in their first two wins, as Chariho opened up an early 8-3 advantage behind some strong serving from Haley Duscha and Maddy Cusumano and then kept their opponent at arms length the rest of the way. As the game wore on, South’s struggled on their own side of the net and Chariho rolled to a 25-19 win.
South’s woes continued into the fourth game as Chariho again opened up an early lead. Trailing 9-4, the Rebels briefly awoke, going on their longest run of the night, taking six straight to reclaim the lead. The Rebels remained in the lead as the two sides traded points until South’s inconsistent play returned and the Chargers pushed away to force a deciding fifth game following a 25-22 win.
Playing with a bit of a swagger having momentum on their side, Chariho looked as though they would polish off their dramatic comeback, bursting out to a 9-5 lead in game five, dominating where they had struggled earlier along the net. After a long volley between both sides, however, Mariclaire Gulla put the hammer down with a big kill to ignite the Rebels.
Chariho was clinging to their lead, but South was back in the game and, trailing 12-10, they strung together anther five-point run, securing the win as Gulla came up with the long drive that landed just inside the backline for game point, 15-12.
“That’s a four day layoff,” said Rebels coach Chris Fagan “…We were serving pretty good and then you have that kind of layoff and it really screws your game up. They’ve been serving real low to the net, that’s been helping our game. You can’t just get that back. You have to be practicing it.
“…We’ve won every five game match that we’ve played and we’ve come from behind to win them. …I think we’ll snap out of it.”
With just two weeks left until the playoffs begin and every point crucial with seeding still undecided, the time for the Rebels to snap out of it grows thin and their road will not be easy as they close out the regular season. Up first in their playoff push is a rivalry match with North Kingstown on Thursday night at home at 6:30 p.m.
With five matches remaining, it is probably too late for the Chargers to make a playoff push, but there is still cause for some celebration as they host Prout on Friday at 6:30 p.m. for the team’s annual Senior Night.