It’s all about improvement at this stage for the Toll Gate girls’ volleyball team, which isn’t the easiest thing to come by with a tough Division I schedule.
And on the scoreboard it hasn’t always looked great, as they’ve struggled to hang in most matches against some of the state’s best teams and players.
On Thursday, they lost 3-0 to South Kingstown to fall to 0-15, while the Rebels improved to 3-12. But even with the scores and the losses, head coach Kelly Harrington sees improvement every day.
“We’re putting our effort into these tough Division I match-ups,” Harrington said. “The scores don’t reflect our hard work. There are some D-I teams where their girls play year round.”
Against South Kingstown, Toll Gate lost 25-8, 25-12 and 25-8, but they were in all three games until the Rebels were able to go on long, sustained runs.
In game one, they turned a 7-4 game into an easy win by scoring 18 of the final 22 points. In game two, South Kingstown led 9-5 before winning 13 of the next 15 points to go ahead 22-7.
The third game followed a similar script, as the Titans where within a point at 9-8 – thanks in part to a block by Danielle Anderson and a kill by Jessica Brosnahan – but lost the final 16 points of the game.
“It is what it is,” Harrington said. “It’s unfortunate that we didn’t move and that we’re in this tough division. Hopefully everyone can just support our players.”
Still, there were some positives. Jamie Hopgood, Brosnahan and Laura Kazanjian all played solidly at the net, and Brosnahan had five kills over the final two games.
Returning serve proved to be the biggest issue, as South Kingstown separated itself with dominant serving.
In game two, the Rebels had nine aces, and Alexis Cobb served for 11 consecutive points. In game three, the Rebels got four aces from Emily Taylor, who served the final 15 points of the game.
“Our issue is really just trying to pass the tough serves,” Harrington said. “When we do that, there are times when we work well together and have good communication. We make great plays and play good defense, we just need to make that more consistent.”
One player who did stand out for Harrington was Kazanjian, who has been one of the team’s most consistent performers this season.
“Laura Kazanjian works really hard and gives her full effort all the time in the middle,” Harrington said.
Yet, it’s still tough to try to get wins against the traditional Division I powers. While Toll Gate was in the playoffs two years ago, it’s been out of place for the past two seasons.
Missing two starters hasn’t made this season any easier, so all the Titans can do is try to make the best of it.
“We are working hard at every practice and we’re putting in our best effort,” Harrington said.
Toll Gate’s final match of the season was scheduled for Monday against North Kingstown, but it was postponed because of inclement weather.
No make-up date has been scheduled at this point.