Bron­cos dig deep in win

Cournoyer, Simp­son key fourth-game come­back

Woonsocket Call - - SPORTS - By BRAN­DEN MELLO bmello@woonsock­et­

BUR­RIL­LVILLE — None of the play­ers on the No. 1 Bur­ril­lville girls vol­ley­ball team had been in this sit­u­a­tion be­fore.

Trail­ing up­set-minded West­erly by four points in the fourth game of their Divi­sion II quar­ter­fi­nal Fri­day night, the Bron­cos needed to re­dis­cover the play that helped them win the Divi­sion II-B reg­u­lar-sea­son ti­tle.

After coach Heather Far­rell called a time­out, right-side Alyssa Simp­son and out­side hit­ter Kar­lee Cournoyer took over and lifted the Bron­cos into their first semi­fi­nal in nine years. The Bron­cos scored 13 of the match’s fi­nal 17 points, while Cournoyer de­liv­ered a match-high 19 kills and 29 digs and Simp­son had 26 digs in a 25-22, 26-24, 21-25, 25-20 vic­tory at the Bron­codome.

“We get down our­selves a lot, but at that point we needed to keep telling each other to play our game,” said Cournoyer, who forced West­erly to call a pair of time­outs in a span of four points while she was at the ser­vice line in the fourth. “I’m so proud of us. We played so well to­day. We had a few com­mu­ni­ca­tion is­sues, but other than that we did great.”

“I think we were all just ner­vous and got in our own heads. We just stopped com­mu­ni­cat­ing for the most part,” Simp­son said. “Coach just told us we have to talk. We were all just a lit­tle ner­vous and got in our own heads and we stopped talk­ing.”

Bur­ril­lville (18-1 Divi­sion II) will face its tough­est test to date in Tues­day night’s Divi­sion II semi­fi­nal against Black­stone Val­ley ri­val Lin­coln at North Kingstown High.

“I don’t know any­thing about them, but they won their divi­sion just like we did,” Far­rell said. “It’s go­ing to be a tough game. If we just keep do­ing what we’re do­ing and keep work­ing on the tac­tics that we have, we’ll be good.”

West­erly (12-8 Divi­sion II) used the hit­ting of Me­gan Al­ba­monti and Alex Mitchell to go on a 9-5 run to take the third game and keep the Bull­dogs’ sea­son alive. The Bull­dogs con­tin­ued to play well into the fourth game where they turned a 3-1 dis­ad­van­tage into a 7-4 lead. After the Bull­dogs won two straight points to stretch the lead out to 1612, Far­rell was forced to use her first time­out.

“I just gave them a lit­tle pep talk and they turned it around. They knew what they had to do,” Far­rell said. “They weren’t com­mu­ni­cat­ing. We can play a lot bet­ter. Was I sur­prised? I think the nerves of reach­ing this point – we haven’t been this far with this team – in nine years. I think it was just nerves and see­ing ev­ery­one here for us in the play­offs.”

Simp­son, who formed a dy­namic right­side com­bi­na­tion with set­ter Sam Gos­selin (40 as­sists), pro­duced a kill to get Couroyer to the ser­vice line. The reign­ing state triple jump cham­pion forced West­erly to call a time­out cling­ing to a 16-15 ad­van­tage. Cournoyer served three more points to force coach Erin McK­in­non-Beal to use her fi­nal time­out with her team trail­ing by two.

“When they called those time­outs, I didn’t do any­thing,” Cournoyer said. “I knew I just had to get the serve over the net. I don’t try to do any­thing fancy with it.”

West­erly re­sponded with a side­out to close the gap to one, but that was as close as the vis­i­tors would get be­cause libero Ken­dall Bous­quet (42 digs) and the Bron­cos won seven of the game’s fi­nal 10 points to win the match.

We went from last year where we didn’t even win two games to this year where it’s the com­plete op­po­site. We just keep get­ting bet­ter and bet­ter each game. We just have bet­ter team chem­istry and we’ve bonded bet­ter than any team in the past.”

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