East Providence senior Hannah Drolet (5) blocks the shot of MSC senior Meaghan Walsh (25) as Townie players Isabel Newton (8) and Nicole Stirk (18) stand close by during the first game of Tuesdayâ€™s match. PHOTO BY ERNEST A. BROWN.
EAST PROVIDENCE â€” East Providence had the spirit and emotion of Senior Night, an adrenaline rush from an energetic section of students rooting them on in the bleachers, and a six-game win streak on its side in Tuesdayâ€™s showdown at home with Mount St. Charles.
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But the Mounties were able to overcome all that and grab one of their biggest victories of the season -- a win that snapped a tie for first place in the Division I-North standings with the Townies and gave them sole possession of the top spot.
Led by their senior tri-captains, Carissa Gould, Kelsey Gainor, and Meaghan Walsh, and classmate Kim Dâ€™Alessandro, as well as a superb job defensively in the third and fourth sets, the Mounties were able to produce a hard-fought 3-1 victory over the Townies.
The Mounties (12-2) won a 25-22 barnburner in the opening game, and after the Townies (11-3) knotted the match with a 25-21 triumph in the second set, MSC turned up the juice defensively in the final two games and took them by scores of 25-17 and 25-13.
â€śI was really happy with our defense in (games) 3 and 4,â€ť said MSC coach Josh Dâ€™Abate, whose club swept its regular-season series with the Mounties for the third straight season. â€śWe scored a lot of hustle points on some broken plays, and we had some big points that gave us some momentum.â€ť
While Dâ€™Abate was happy with his defense in those two games, E.P. coach Alex Butler was not pleased with his squadâ€™s passing and serving during those games, and he shared those feelings during his post-match remarks.
â€śOur passing was bad, and that was a by-product of poor serving,â€ť noted Butler. â€śWe had nine service errors in (games) 3 and 4, and when you have that many, you canâ€™t expect to win, especially against someone like Mount. You give them opportunities and theyâ€™ll take them.â€ť
Neither team was giving the other any opportunities in the opening game, which saw only one lead as big as four points (E.P. rolled out to a 4-0 lead) and a handful of lead changes. The Mounties were able to win the set by scoring four of the final six points and getting a kill and an ace along the way from Dâ€™Alessandro.
Like the first game, the Townies took early leads of 4-0 and 7-4 in the second set, but this time, they were able to produce a victory. Their biggest leads in that game were 12-5 and 17-10, but the visitors made things interesting by twice slicing their deficit to two points (18-16 and 19-17).
But unfortunately for the Townies, things began to unravel in the final two games. Mount grabbed leads of 16-10 and 21-13 before sewing up the third game, and in the fourth, the visitors found themselves ahead by scores of 10-4, 14-8, and 20-11.
â€śYou canâ€™t let them have a big lead,â€ť Butler said of Mount. â€śIt seems like whenever they get one, they play free, and when they do that, they play very well.â€ť
Gould, the Mountiesâ€™ talented setter, ended her night with 35 assists and 12 digs, Walsh led the way at the net with 14 digs and contributed eight digs, while Dâ€™Alessandro added seven kills and five aces and Gainor had six kills and three aces.
And they werenâ€™t the only seniors to contribute to the cause. Erin Potter delivered eight kills and five digs, while Lindsey Morin also had a dozen digs.
â€śIt was a fun match,â€ť said Dâ€™Abate, whose team has now won four straight. â€śItâ€™s always great to come here and play them, especially on their Senior Night, and tonight, I thought we played really well.â€ť
The Townies, who honored nine seniors during their Senior Night festivities, got strong games from three of them. Co-captain Mary Monagle had seven kills, five digs, and two blocks, Leah Drolet added seven kills and three blocks, and setter Izzy Newton handed out 24 assists and delivered three aces.
Both squads have two games remaining on their schedule. The Mounties will host third-place Ponaganset on their Senior Night on Friday at 6 p.m. and then visit last-place La Salle the following Monday night, and the Townies will visit crosstown foe Bay View on Friday night and the Chieftains on Monday.
The Mounties, who have been raising money this season for the Gloria Gemma Breast Research Foundation (and wearing special commemorative pink jerseys during the month of October), have raised â€śin the neighborhoodâ€ť of $800-1,000, noted Dâ€™Abate, and they will try to add to that total by selling pink Mount volleyball t-shirts at the game and raffle tickets for various prizes over the course of the night.