EAST PROVIDENCE â€” The East Providence High School girls' volleyball team had a somewhat surprisingly difficult time dispatching winless host Bay View Thursday night, Sept. 29, despite recording a 3-1 victory in the Division I-Central match between city neighbors.
The Townies improved to 5-3 in the I-Central standings and remained well within the projected state championship playoff tournament field. The Bengals dipped to 0-8 in league. Their 25-22 win in the second stanza was just their fourth individual game victories in their eight league matches to date.
Although they were seemingly the superior team coming in, E.P. appeared indecisive and passive at the ball all evening while its passing was often off target. And even with their evident shortcomings, it was the slumping Bengals that regularly looked to be the side that was playing with more swagger and confidence.
"We are so inconsistent," EPHS head coach Alex Butler admitted. "No area of the game is a strength right now and we continue to beat ourselves. We are averaging 12 service errors and 18 hitting errors per match. That's over a games worth of points every match. We are struggling to put away average teams right now. Never mind when we play strong teams."
As they did throughout the night, the Townies were slow out of the gate to start the opening game before Meredith Whitaker got E.P. going with her hard, flat, left-handed serving. To their credit the Bengals hung in and tied the score at eight on a kill by Samantha Proulx-Whitcomb. From there, though, the Townies eventually built a commanding lead en route to a 25-15 win. Patricia Hurley and Kate Mendillo had key kills late for E.P.
The second game followed a similar pattern, the Bengals leading early then the Townies responded. The contest, however, remained close pretty much the entire way. E.P. did stretch a lead to 18-14, but service and passing errors would prove the Townies' undoing. Bay View's senior middle hitter Alexa Brooks-Major had some important touches down the stretch, including a kill to end it.
The third game, as is often the case, likely proved the turning point of the match. Staying on theme, E.P. spotted the Bengals the lead to begin before rallying to move out in front. And much like the second game, once Bay View answered the score stayed close. The Townies, again though, seemed poised for the win when they took a 24-21 edge on quick tip by Mendillo that crawled over the net and landed in.
But the Bengals refused to go away, scoring the next five points to retake the lead. Carolyn Caldwell had two kills during the run. But a Bay View hitting error opened the door for the Townies, who ended up winning 27-25 following a Shaniah Hazard two-hand tip and a hit at net by Mendillo the Bengals couldn't return.
Needless to say, the action in the fourth game mirrored that of two and three, the Townies eventually finishing it out and the match by claiming a 28-26 victory.
"We had 26 hitting errors tonight. Bay View struggles to pass and we can't keep the ball in the court. Our passing has been subpar and as a result we suffer offensively. We are just trying to find a consistent level of play. And it's very difficult right now," Coach Butler added.
Hurley led the Townies with nine kills on the evening while Hazard had seven. Brooks-Major paced all hitters with a match-best 10 kills.
Bay View returns to league action Monday night, Oct. 3, at home against Coventry at 5:30 p.m. E.P. next plays host to Mount St. Charles Tuesday night, Oct. 4, at 6:30.
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