WAKEFIELD—A number of girls volleyball teams have found out so far this season that if you take a night off in Division I-South you’re not going to win.
Last Thursday the Crusaders’ didn’t have their ‘A’ game against North Kingstown and the result was a 25-15, 25-17, 25-12 loss to the Skippers.
“This is a very competitive division. If you take a day off you are going to lose,” Prout coach Katie Walsh said. “…[Against North Kingstown] it was just one of those days where we couldn’t get anything started and by the time we did it was the end of the match.”
Wednesday Prout was on the other side of the equation as a solid Chariho squad had an off night and the Crusaders took advantage to the tune of a 25-13, 25-21, 25-12 victory.
“We played our hardest today and we didn’t quit at all,” Walsh said. “I’m very proud of my girls. They played great.”
In the opening game Monday the Chargers stayed even with the Crusaders early on but it was fairly clear they weren’t as crisp as they were Monday in a tight loss to South Kingstown.
“It just wasn’t there tonight,” Chariho coach Doug Bliven said. “Us playing at the top of our game matches up with Prout but we just didn’t play anywhere near that tonight.
“…Sometimes people try and guess what teams are good and what teams are not. We’re not in a position where we can do that. We’re in the middle of pack – maybe in the middle, maybe just below the middle of the pack – and we can’t afford to make those assumptions.”
The game was tied a 10-apeice in the first when a kill from junior Aly Fairbrother kick started what would prove to be the beginning of the end for Chariho.
Behind some strong serving from senior setter Allie Chretien Prout rattled off 10 straight points before a Fairbrother kill sailed wide left to halt the run.
By that point the damage had been done though and with a 20-11 lead the Crusaders won five of the next seven points to close the first.
“We have a good team but one thing that we really need to work on is our serve-receive passing,” Bliven said. “That broke down really early.”
It was hard to imagine that the second game could go much worse for the Chargers but early on it did just that as two kills apiece from junior Olivia Hirst and Fairbrother – coupled with some unforced errors from Chariho – led to an 8-0 Prout advantage.
The Crusaders lead ballooned to 12-2 over the next six points and it appeared as if Prout was in for a stress free night.
Slowly, however, the complexion of the match began to change as the Chargers picked up a few points to get to within 14-5.
Soon the tallies came one after another, as the unforced errors that had plagued the Chargers earlier transferred to the other side of the net to the point where Chariho drew within one point at 14-13.
The opportunity to turn their night around was within the Chargers’ reach but unfortunately for Chariho it was not to be Wednesday night.
Prout answered with a 9-2 run to take 23-15 lead and – while Chariho did draw within three points at 24-21 – ultimately clinched their second game on a booming kill from Hirst.
Out of options with his starters proving to be ineffective, Bliven turned to his reserves.
Early on the move worked – in part because there were a combined six missed serves in the game’s first eight points – and Chariho trailed just 11-10.
“I gave the varsity opportunities to turn it around and the girls that were on the bench haven’t gotten those opportunities,” Bliven said. “When I saw my first squad wasn’t really cutting it I wanted to give them a chance.”
As the final game wore on though the Crusaders’ more-skilled starters overcame the zeal of Chariho’s reserves, outscoring the Chargers 14-2 down the stretch to close out the match.
While still very early in the season, the win is a big one for the Crusaders (2-1 D-I South) as they figure to battling for positioning in the standings all season long behind Coventry with North Kingstown, South Kingstown and the Chargers.
Next up will be Prout’s greatest test to date as it will travel to take on an undefeated Coventry team that has yet to drop a game this season Monday at 6:30 p.m.