Mike Harrington has seen a lot of great volleyball players come through his program at Bishop Hendricken.
As far as outside hitters go, though, Jahari Ford was one of his best.
“He was as good as I’ve had in a long time, as far as a pure, talented, athletic outside hitter,” Harrington said. “Rocco (Baldelli) is in a class of his own. But Jahari’s set of skills fit that position really well.”
Ford was the most powerful player on a Hendricken team that was breaking in new players all over the court. A three-year varsity player, he was relied upon to carry the load while the rest of the team caught up to speed.
He didn’t mind one bit.
“He’s always wanted (to be the man), even as a sophomore when I pulled him up to help out in a couple varsity matches,” Harrington said. “He never really lacked confidence, and that’s obviously a good thing in the sport of volleyball and any sport.”
The Hawks struggled against some of the top teams in Division I during the season, before finding their groove toward the end of the schedule.
But as the team clicked, Ford and setter Matt Medeiros both came down with injuries.
It put the Hawks in a tough spot, and Ford missed the final two weeks of the regular season. Yet, leading into Hendricken’s quarterfinal match with defending state champion South Kingstown, he wanted to give it a go.
“The last time we faced SK we lost, but we had that feeling walking away from them that we could beat them,” Ford said.
He could barely move around the court the day before the match, but he convinced Harrington to let him play and he contributed what he could. He had four kills in the match – while Medeiros also gutted it out – as Hendricken fought the Rebels tooth and nail before falling a few points short, losing 15-12 in the deciding fifth game.
“No one expected us to battle SK like we did, take them to game five and then lose by three points,” Ford said. “No one expected that. That’s my goal as a player – to exceed expectations.”
And even though Hendricken’s season came to an early-round close, there was plenty to be proud of.
“It was just the way that we went out that made it remarkable,” Ford said. “Our setter played, I played, and then everyone who was inconsistent the whole year really stepped up.”