NARRAGANSETT — Losing a set by 17 points is no small thing, but the Narragansett High School girls volleyball team didn’t let it have a big impact in Monday’s season finale.
Hosting Middletown in a spring break matinee, the Mariners roared to an 11-1 lead en route to a game one win before falling flat in a stunning 25-8 game two loss. Undeterred, they won the next two sets 25-10 and 25-19 to take the match 3-1.
“We all met and talked to each other and just realized we had a tough game,” senior Taylor Hall said. “The gym was quiet, it was a hot day – a lot of weird things were going on. I think we realized we could come back from this because we beat them before and we played really well in the first game. We hyped each other up and we knew we could do it.”
The win gave the Mariners a final regular-season record of 4-5, with the postseason still to come. The Mariners will likely be the No. 5 seed in Division III, pending the results of remaining games around the league this week.
“We’ve had some ups and downs but we’ve won two in a row, so I think going into the playoffs, we’re all excited and ready,” Hall said.
Monday’s match was the second between the Mariners and Islanders in the span of a week. Narragansett won the first with a sweep and had it rolling again in the early stages of the rematch. A block by Hall, a kill by Lauren Aldrich and an ace by Victoria Gauvin helped fuel an 11-1 start. The Islanders eventually settled in and got within four at 17-13, but the Mariners rode four straight kills by Dylan Bellows to regain a comfortable lead. They won 25-16.
The trouble in game two started right away as Middletown jumped to a 5-0 lead. After the Mariners came back to make it 8-4, the Islanders took control with seven straight points, five of which came on aces by Emily Cassidy. Middletown won five in a row soon after for a 20-5 lead and had no trouble finishing off the 25-8 win.
“Game two was rough,” Narragansett coach Abby Hummel said. “We had just played them and we came out really fast in the first set. I think they just sat back too much. And all credit to Middletown – their serving was really tough. It wasn’t just us. Middletown played really well.”
Livy Waranis opened the third set with a kill. Alrdich followed with two aces and Hannah St. Jean landed a kill. With that, the pendulum was swinging back toward the Mariners. Two more kills by St. Jean and a kill by Aldrich made it 10-3, and the Mariners kept adding to the lead with four separate runs of three straight points. A kill by Waranis and two Islander errors closed out a 25-10 win.
“We adjusted our lineup after game two,” Hummel said. “They were really tough serving. We put Lauren in the back row and that really helped.”
For once, neither team raced to a lead in the fourth game, but the Mariners didn’t wait too long. An ace by Gauvin, two kills by Aldrich and two aces by Clare Oberheu helped the Mariners win nine of 10 points for a 14-5 lead. Middletown worked back within three points at 20-17, but the Mariners won five of the next seven points to clinch the victory. Waranis had a kill and Aldrich delivered an ace on match point to highlight the strong finish.
“It’s so much better when we’re all happy and feeling good,” Hall said. “Energy is such an important part of volleyball. When the energy is bad, everything is going downhill. But when everyone is cheering and hyping each other up, you really get fired up. I think that really kept us going.”
Aldrich and Waranis had six kills each, with Aldrich adding three aces. St. Jean had four kills and four aces. Hall delivered five blocks and two kills. The Mariners also got significant contributions from the bench.
“It was definitely a team effort,” Hummel said. “We asked some girls who don’t usually play to step in and serve today. We’ve been kind of hit-or-miss with serving. Dylan Bellows and Clare Oberheu came in and stepped to the serving line with confidence.”
The playoffs are set to begin next week.