WOOD RIVER JCT. – A vocal, green and white speckled crowd filled the Chariho High School gymnasium Friday night for one of the more exciting girls volleyball games of the 2013 season, as visiting Prout needed all five sets to defeat Division-I South foe Chariho 25-27, 25-16, 25-15, 22-25, 15-12.
“We usually get a good crowd, there’s a lot of support from the school,” Charger head coach Doug Bliven said. “Plus it was senior night, a lot of parents and friends in the stands.”
With a near-upset of South Kingstown in their last game and distant playoff chances resting on winning out, the Chargers came out determined and put up a good effort in their final home game for Chariho’s seven seniors Mikayla Whitman, Sydnei Paige, Katherine Gannon, Corrissa Klapman, Maddie Cusumano, Korissa Davis and Haley Duscha.
Chariho got an early lead in the back-and-forth first set, taking their biggest advantage at 16-11 after a three-point scoring streak with Cusumano serving.
The set was tied five times after the two teams each reached 20 before strong play from Duscha and junior Rhiannon Wilson down the stretch with the score knotted at 25-apiece paced the Chargers to the opening set victory.
The momentum would not carry into the second though, as the Crusader’s won the next two sets with conviction.
Prout took a lead in the second set at 5-4 on junior Olivia Hirst’s kill and never looked back, taking it 25-16. In the third their largest lead was 24-12 before Chariho slimmed it a bit, losing 25-15.
Chariho came out charged-up for the fourth, taking another back-and-forth match 25-22. In the fourth set, Chariho’s largest advantage was 8-3 and the Crusaders had the lead as late as 19-18 before the Chargers pulled off the set win.
“We showed resiliency coming back from down 2-1,” Bliven said.
“I think we got a little – not too sure of ourselves – but our passing broke down a little bit in the beginning of the fourth game,” Prout coach Katie Walsh said. “We kind of dug ourselves a hole and then we let the other team back in.”
Cusumano picked up a couple aces and Chariho took an early 5-1 lead in the final set. The score volleyed back and forth tying at 9-9, 10-10, 11-11 and 12-12. Hirst and senior Katie Burns stepped up for the Crusaders with key blocks and kills to power Prout over Chariho 15-12.
“That was a really good win. At the end of practice yesterday I told them ‘let’s go undefeated for the rest of the season’ [and] this is a good start to that,” Walsh said. “I looked at them and said ‘15 points, give me your all and you can go home.’
“...Olivia Hirst really turned it around for us. Every time she touched the ball it was a kill, she’s leading by example there [and] all the girls wanted it.”
Hirst finished the game with 16 kills, six assists, five digs and four blocks, while sophomore Bonnie Turek led Prout with 30 digs.
“We’re disappointed in the loss but it was a fun atmosphere, a great game to play in,” Bliven said. “We have four games left and we’ve been playing the best we have all season.”
The Crusaders were back in action Tuesday at home against North Kingstown (results unavailable at press times) and will return to action Thursday at 6:30 p.m. when they host undefeated Coventry.