There are no easy days in Division I, and the Toll Gate girls’ volleyball team understands that as well as anybody. In their last 21 matches, the Titans are winless.
But they’re getting better, and as a team that somehow slipped through the cracks in the Rhode Island Interscholastic League realignment process and didn’t drop to Division II this year, improvement and effort are the two biggest things they’re focusing on.
Really, that’s all they can control. And head coach Kelly Harrington likes the way they’re handling their business.
Toll Gate lost 3-0 to Bay View on Monday night to drop to 0-7 for the year, but the match was significantly closer than the final score would indicate. The Titans were very competitive in game one, leading as late as 16-15, and they hung tough in the second game as well.
Though they went down 25-19, 25-16 and 25-10, it felt like another step forward.
“We have a lot of tough competition,” Harrington said. “So, we’re trying to focus on what we can control. Things like serving, passing, communication. As the season goes on, we are improving every match. The scores aren’t there with us, yet. But we definitely are improving.”
Game one was the best indication of that improvement, as Toll Gate came out strong and battled the Bengals for every point through the middle portion.
After Bay View went up 4-1, Jessican Brosnahan got the Titans on track with a kill and a strong serve by Kelsey Kurbiec made it 4-3. The teams traded points from there until consecutive aces from Bay View’s Stephanie DiLucia made it 11-9 in favor of the Bengals.
Another Brosnahan kill got Toll Gate back within one, but Bay View won three out of the next four points to take a 14-11 lead.
But Toll Gate wouldn’t quit.
A Brosnahan hit made it 14-12, and a hitting error and a carry on Bay View tied the score. Brosnahan followed that with consecutive aces to put Toll Gate up 16-14.
Unfortunately for the Titans, Bay View got hot. It won the next three points before Toll Gate briefly tied it at 17. Later, Arielle Frank tied it at 19, with an ace, but the Bengals had too much. They won the next six points, including an ace from Jordyn Jagolinzer-Machedo and kill by Lauren Wasikowski to seal the game.
“I thought we played well in game one,” Harrington said. “Game on we e stayed right with them. We played well as a team. But we just need to improve on our serving and communication.”
Game two wasn’t much different, as Toll Gate hung close for a while before Bay View pulled away. An ace by Jamie Lavoie helped the Titans in the early going before an ace from Laura Kazanjian and a big hit from Kurbiec kept things close at 12-9.
A few points later, a kill from Jamie Hopgood brought Toll Gate within 16-14. But, once again, the Bengals responded.
A slew of Toll Gate errors mixed with a kill from Bay View’s Paige Monk and another from Wasikowski put the finishing touches on game two.
“Momentum has a huge part in volleyball, and we just lost it for those last couple of points,” Harrington said. “But I was proud of the effort they put in for the entire match.”
Game three turned out to be a struggle from the get-go, as Bay View went up 3-0, extended the lead out to 13-6 and put it on cruise control from there.
Toll Gate did get two kills from Kazanjian, one from Brosnahan and two aces from Lavoie in the game, but it wasn’t enough. The Bengals controlled the net with Wasikowski and won nine of the final 11 points to polish off the win.
Toll Gate’s next match is on Friday at 1-6 Classical at 6:30 p.m. Following that, the Titans will host 5-2 East Providence on Monday, also at 6:30.
They’ll keep working.
“The girls’ attitude is great,” Harrington said. “We’re aware of the competition in D-I, and the girls are giving 100 percent effort in practice and not giving up in games. They’re working well as a team, and that’s really all I can ask for.”