WARWCK- There have not been many instances this season in which the Coventry volleyball team has had to fight from behind to secure a win, but Tuesday night at Bishop Hendricken would require them to do just that.
After dropping the opening set by a 25-20 score, the Oakers bounced back to claim the next three by final counts of 25-19, 25-20 and 25-17. Cam Roth had a team-high 14 kills to go along with 4 digs and 4 blocks, while Zack Turner put forth a solid effort as well, finishing with 10 kills, 6 blocks and 4 aces.
The win kept the Oakers undefeated on the year, as they now stand at 9-0, while the Hawks, who proved to be a stronger team than their record may indicate, dropped to 5-4 with the loss. While he felt that his own team’s effort could have been better at time, Oakers head coach Jonathan Bartlett credited the Hendricken team as a whole, particularly when it came to their blocking abilities.
“They put up a big block against us. They served aggressively, kept a lot of balls in play.They’re a solid squad, there’s no question about that,” he said.
The Hawks showed little to no signs of intimidation when it came to taking on the defending state champs. Though they only won a single set, they would put up substantial fights in all four, keeping the Oakers on their toes the whole way through. With the match getting underway at 5 p.m. due to an awards ceremony scheduled to take place later that evening, the crowd started off small in numbers, as they battled their way through the rush hour traffic in order to see their teams play, but would wind up being in full force before long, adding to what was already a drama-filled contest.
Coventry jumped out to an early 11-4 lead in the opening set thanks to some powerful serving by Turner, but the Hawks remained poised and patient and would wind up going on a pair of runs themselves, eventually reclaiming the lead at 17-16.
A big serve from Steven Costantino coupled with a kill by Anthony Witherstone gave the home team the opening set victory at 25-20. It was the first time since April 7 against South Kingstown and just the second time all season that the Oakers had dropped a set.
The Hawks would prove to be a relentless team all match long, coming back time and again in each set, pushing the Oakers to dig deep in order to come away with the win. Head coach Jonathan Bartlett did not feel that his team was where they needed to be early on, particularly after dropping the opening set.
“I felt like we played without much energy in the first game and they were just taking it to us. They were getting a lot of blocks, putting balls down, and serving aggressively,” he said.
The Oakers watched an early 8-4 lead in the second slip away, but would manage to gather themselves, edging out the Hawks 25-19 to even the match up. The third set would play out in similar fashion to the second. The Oakers watched a 16-11 lead turn into a 19-16 deficit before turning the tables around once again before it was too late. Following a timeout with the two sides deadlocked at 20-20, Coventry would close out the set by claiming five consecutive points to take a 2-1 overall lead.
The fourth set may have been the best the Oakers played, as they went on to take it by a 25-17 final. If there was one area in need of significant improvement for Hendricken, it was in the serving department. The Hawks committed 15 service errors when all was said and done, six of which came in the final set, making it that much easier for Coventry to close the deal. Despite the victory, Bartlett said that his team has a lot to work on in practice moving forward.
“We’ve got to do a better job of ball control all around. Our ball control tonight was far from where it needed to be and that’s something that we need to definitely focus on,” he said. He did not feel that Tuesday’s win over a talented Hawks team held any significance over any of the other eight they have won so far this season.
“I would say every win would be of the same value regardless of who you’re playing. It’s just a different opponent and they approach the game slightly differently and we need to be ready for any approach to the game,” he said.
The Oakers will travel to Chariho on Thursday to take on a Chargers squad that they had little difficulty beating on their home floor back on April 5. The match is scheduled for 6:30 p.m.