LINCOLN — All the East Greenwich volleyball team has done since losing to undefeated Lincoln back on Sept. 17 is win – and win convincingly.
The Avengers, who have lost just one set during their current seven-game winning streak, started Monday night’s Division II showdown with the Lions by scoring the match’s first eight points and never looking back.
Thanks to the play of senior outside hitter Vivian Goulet, senior setter Jules Abella and junior libero Sophie Johnson, the Avengers produced dominating wins in the first and third games and overcame a late four-point deficit in the second game to post a convincing 25-16, 25-23, 25-18 victory over the tired Lions at Lincoln Middle School.
“Since that last match against them, we just worked really hard on our serve-receive and also our energy,” said EG coach Justin Amaral. “When we have a little energy and something going behind us, we’re a really good team. The girls did a really good job staying up all night and playing well. Starting off strong really helps us because that gives us energy to get going.”
Lincoln (12-1 Division II) is in the midst of its busiest stretch of the season and coach Kyle Medeiros feels the lack of down time and the lack of practice caught up to the Lions against their toughest opponent.
Lincoln defeated West Warwick Friday and then played well at the Rhody Invitational Saturday, taking a game off defending state champion North Kingstown and Division I Cumberland.
The Lions, who received a strong performance at the net from senior middle Nicole Lezon, travel to Toll Gate tonight before the squad gets a week off to focus on the final two weeks of the regular season.
“East Greenwich is a good team that came out here and beat us. It’s simple – there’s no way around that,” Medeiros said. “They took care of business. We played well Saturday, but I just don’t think the kids had their legs under them in this match. We tried to give them a day off on Sunday, but I understand. This is a tough stretch to go through when you’re not playing a club schedule.”
East Greenwich (11-1 Division II) now has the inside track on the No. 1 seed for the playoffs because of Monday’s impressive sweep. The Avengers, who went undefeated last regular season before losing to Cranston East in the final, took complete control of the opening game with Abella at the service line.
The senior’s difficult float serve caused havoc for the Lincoln passers. The Lions failed to make an in-system pass on the first three points, as Goulet and right-side hitter Jordan Bean delivered kills in an 8-0 run.
Lincoln went on a 5-1 run, but then Rachel Rowey sparked a 5-0 run by the guests to open up a nine-point advantage. The Lions scored four straight points late in the game, but it was far too little far too late.
“The big thing for us going into this match was to keep our energy up and keep the momentum we built going,” Amaral said. “We need to remain positive. We’re getting really good play from Hope [Votta], who is our strong middle and Jules, who was a libero the last three years and has stepped in as the setter.”
Lincoln, thanks to an early kill from Emma Gianetti, built a 4-1 advantage to start the middle game. The Lions led 9-3, 13-8, 20-15 and 23-19 to move close to tying the match. Junior outside hitter Olivia Wodogaza led the Lions with eight kills.
With the Lions up, the Avengers earned a point on a tight-angle shot and proceeded to rip off six consecutive points to win the game and deflate the hosts.
“Early in the second game we were forcing them into mistakes, but they went on two service runs midway through that changed the complexion of the game,” Medeiros said. “The timeout I called at 23-20 was to settle them down a little bit. We just couldn’t regain any of the momentum we had.”
The third game was simply about the play of Goulet, who will be playing her college volleyball at Wentworth in Boston next year. The righty had two early kills and then she produced a pair of aces to lead the Avengers out to a 10-1 lead. Lincoln went on a 14-5 run to cut EG’s lead to three, but that was as close as Lincoln would get.
Following the defeat, Medeiros gave his kids some perspective. The Lions came into this season off a four-win campaign that didn’t include a trip to the Division II playoffs.
“We had four wins last year and some of the girls are really down because we didn’t go undefeated. I just told them ‘You felt like this 10 times last year,’” Medeiros said. “With that said, I would like to see more consistency with our back-row play. Our best players just weren’t on tonight, so if we can get a little more consistency from them we’ll be in pretty good shape.”