With the two halves of the volleyball schedule following roughly the same path, Warwick Vets opened the second half last week the same way it opened the season – squaring off against division powers East Greenwich and West Warwick.
The results were the same as the first time – 3-0 losses – but the ’Canes hope those games will be a jumping-off point for a turnaround and not a beginning of more of the same.
“I think this is the kind of game that they can learn from and go on from,” head coach Jean McGarry said after Thursday’s loss to West Warwick. “Now we’re going to play teams like Pilgrim, Scituate, Westerly, even Cranston East and Cranston West – they’re good teams but we’ve hung in with them. I think if we can keep working hard, we’ll have a good shot.”
The ’Canes fell to 1-10 with the losses to East Greenwich and West Warwick, which came on back-to-back nights. Though it wasn’t a kind welcome to the second half of the season, the ’Canes knew what was coming.
“We’re starting back in the second round of the season, and our first two games were just really hard,” McGarry said. “I have to say that I was not unhappy with the way my girls played.”
Against the Wizards, the positives just didn’t always show up on the scoreboard. Vets lost 25-11 and 25-10 before playing their best volleyball of the night late in game three and losing 25-20.
“The last few days of practice and games, what we’ve tried to focus on is that we’re going to keep fighting no matter what,” McGarry said. “We’re going to go to the floor for the ball. We’re going to work on our serves, our communication – all the things we were seeing breakdowns on. I think tonight, they did all those things. In that respect, I’m pleased with what they did tonight.”
As far as the result, the Wizards, who came in at 8-3, just had too much. Leading 7-6 in the first game, West Warwick surged to nine wins in the next 10 points. All the points came on either kills or aces. Oksana Goretaya had four of the kills and Mikaela Grosso delivered three aces. From there, Vets never got closer than seven, and the Wizards won five points in a row to clinch the victory.
“Our biggest issue is that we can’t get a stable lineup in, one that everyone can count on,” McGarry said. “I think we’re still juggling positions with some players and it all depends on which player came to play today.”
In game two, the ’Canes got buried early. Goretaya had two kills and Nicole Pelletier consistently served the ball well as the Wizards raced to an 11-0 lead. Vets never won more than two straight points as the Wizards cruised to the 25-10 victory.
Game three looked like more of the same as the Wizards jumped out to a 10-1 lead. But instead of packing it in, the ’Canes turned it on. Facing match point at 24-12, Elizabeth Iadevaia stepped to the serving line and powered Vets to its best run of the night. She had an ace, Alyssa McCracken had a kill and the ’Canes took advantage of a few Wizard miscues to win the next eight points. At one point, they even forced a West Warwick timeout.
Ultimately, the comeback went for naught, as Hanna Derefaka just landed a tip for the winning point. But for Vets, it was still nice to see.
“We had a 10th grader on the line serving from a deficit and they didn’t shut her down,” McGarry said. “That says a lot. There’s some promise.”
That’s the biggest positive the ’Canes can take from Thursday’s match, but in general, they’ll just be focusing on getting better. The first chance to show the improvement will come Friday when they visit Pilgrim at 6:30 p.m.
“The season is quickly coming to the end,” McGarry said. “The fact that they’re working hard to jell, the fact that they’re fighting back at times – those are good things.”