Mounties head to semifinal
Mount girls volleyballers advance
WOONSOCKET — Mount St. Charles veteran coach Josh D’Abate found it most strange that his girls would “SHUSH!” him after he had huddled them to issue a “Well done” for an impressive four-game victory over South Kingstown in a Division I quarterfinal match on Thursday night.
“They just told me to shut up, and they kept looking at Mark,” D’Abate said, referring to first-year assistant Mark Davis. “I had no idea what was going on.”
The fourth-seeded Mounties stood in the middle of the gym looking either pensive or pleased following
the 25-11, 25-21, 20-25, 25-16 victory, staring at Davis, who eventually took a knee and proposed marriage to his girlfriend of 10 months, Nicole.
When they could tell she had nodded, they let out a collective scream of joy seemingly louder than the one after sophomore Allie Melnychuk had recorded the decisive point.
“We did know about it; Mark had told us at the beginning of the season that if we made it to the semis, he would propose,” gushed thrilled senior co-captain Issa Miller. “We were pointing toward both all year, and we’re so happy about both.”
There’s nevertheless more on that preseason list. D’Abate’s bunch, which improved to 11-6 overall, now will prepare for a D-I semifinal against top-ranked and unbeaten North Kingstown. That match will take place at 5 p.m., Wednesday, at East Greenwich High.
Several Mounties played key roles in the triumph, and Miller led the way with 15 kills and two blocks, while classmate Morgan Watson tacked on a dozen spikes and three blocks; sophomore Paige McCreight seven kills and four caroms; senior setter Emma Picard 34 assists; and Melnychuk six aces.
For the fifth-ranked Rebels, whose campaign closed at 10-7, junior Hannah Brock manufactured 11 spikes, eight digs, two aces and a block; senior co-captain Molly Pincince 16 digs, seven kills and three aces; classmate Jillian Previte seven kills and a block; and sophomore Chloe Greene five digs and three spikes.
“We struggled (Thursday night),” offered SK head coach Jackie Elmer afterward. “We had moments of brilliance, but we couldn’t get it together overall. We had issues passing, definitely. I’ve never seen us shank so many of those passes.”
As for something D’Abate stated to his rather friendly coaching rivalry after the decision, Elmer grinned, “Right after the girls went through the (congratulatory) line, we said together, ‘Flashback.’ Last year, we were in the same situation. Mount won the first two games of our quarterfinal, but we came back to win it with three straight. The winner was going on to play the No. 1 seed North Kingstown.
“The same thing was happening right here.”
The Mounties held a commanding 15-11 cushion in the third game – after claiming the first two – but allowed Pincince to serve up 10 straight points to hand SK the 22-15 advantage; that last point came on Brock’s terrific kill off a block.
Thanks to a Miller dink and a Picard ace, MSC sliced it to 23-20, but the Rebels closed it out on after the hosts’ unforced error, 25-20.
In the deciding set, SK jumped out to a quick 3-0 lead, the Mounties answered and the battle was on. After the fourth tie, Melnychuk took her position behind the service stripe and notched two points for the 13-11 advantage, and the score remained tight.
That is, until Miller inherited the serve and racked up six consecutive points to turn a tenuous 16-14 lead into a 21-14 domination. With junior southpaw Marissa Tessier at the line, she registered the winning point, courtesy of a “roll over the block” by teammate Melnychuk.
“We were a little worried after losing that third game after what happened last year,” Miller stated. “The keys were to regain and maintain our energy – and momentum – and doing our jobs at the positions we were given.
“We were definitely thinking, ‘Uhoh!,’ but we talked among ourselves and said that this was a different year and a different group. We got our en- ergy back, and we able to clinch it.”
The Mounties trailed only twice in the opening game, at 2-1 and 3-2 before an unforced error knotted it at 3-3. At that point, Picard lined up for her serve and mustered four straight, then – after a sideout – Miller tacked on six more to make it 14-5.
They eventually sealed that at 2511.
In the second, following three deadlocks and a pair of lead changes, MSC held cushions of 9-5, 16-11 and 1914 before the Rebels forged a furious comeback. Brock’s spike off a carom tied it for the fourth time at 21-up, but a Watson dink and two straight aces by Tessier led to the 25-21 victory.
“The (quarterfinal) loss to SK last year wasn’t something we talked about at practice (this week),” D’Abate said. “I have a smart group of girls, so they were fully aware of what happened. They remembered. We talked about finishing it after Game 2.”
When asked what happened at the tail end of the third, he merely stated, “That’s high school volleyball. We weren’t passing it as consistently as we had been, and they were serving very well. It was their own conversing and communicating on the court that turned it around. They know full well what they’re capable of, and I thought this match was a good example of that.”
After a one year absence, the Mount St. Charles girls volleyball team is back in the Division I semifinals after defeating South Kingstown in four games Thursday night.