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EAST GREENWICH â 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 nightâs match when the two teams met on the Avengersâ 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 Marinersâ heels at 5-1 having won the second most sets in Division I-South (17 to Narragansettâs 18), but that did not stop the Mariners from keeping to form, dispatching their hosts 25-21, 25-20, 25, 25-18.
âYou have to give credit to the girls, they pulled through,â said Narragansett coach Abby Hummel. âThey came from behind in every one of those and pushed back and regained the lead, so you can only give credit to them. Itâs their hearts and their desires. They could sink if they want, but they chose to push through it.â
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 divisionâs 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.
âI guess it was one of those days, I donât have an answer for that,â said East Greenwich coach Terri Garno. âIâm interested to find out myself, where they were [mentally] because I donât 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. âŠTheyâre lacking that edge. They donât have it all the time.
âThey have it when they want it.â
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 nightâs 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 Narragansettâs 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.
âIâm not worried about losing a set. I wouldnât have worried if we lost a set tonight,â said the Mariners coach. âWeâre not trying to go undefeated, weâre trying to win a division. Itâs a big difference.
ââŠI ask them to show up every day at practice and thatâs what they do. They give me everything theyâve got and Iâve always been very honest with them. Iâve said it since day one, âI donât know you. I donât know you from your past. I know you from this moment on, so if you donât show me what you have, Iâm not going to trust you to be out there.â
âAnd those girls that are out there have shown me. The girls on the bench have shown me. Iâm comfortable putting them all in where theyâre in and I tell them that all the time.â
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.