The Bishop Hendricken volleyball team pulled off a big upset in the Division I Quarterfinals with a 3-0 sweep of No. 3 La Salle.
The Rams topped the Hawks twice in the regular season, but that did not matter on Monday as the Hawks cruised to a 25-17, 25-23, 25-21 win to punch their ticket to this Friday’s semifinals against No. 2 North Kingstown.
“La Salle is pretty deep rotation-wise, they seem to always have someone at every position, every rotation that can put the ball away. We tried to keep an eye on their tendencies, for example, their middles like to hit the ball to one half of the court, so we doubled up on that half on our block. But really, we were just so consistent and made so few errors. We had a season-low four mis-serves in the match which was a big part of it. Also, they have some really great passers so our plan was to try not to jump serve and try to avoid hitting it to their top passers,” said Hendricken coach Mike Harrington of the team’s performance. “It doesn’t show up on the stat sheet but that was huge for us … to take them out of their rhythm and to take away some of their strengths.”
Although La Salle took both games against the Hawks throughout the regular season, and were considered the favorite heading into the matchup, Hendricken remained confident and knew that they had what it took to get the job done on the third try.
“We talked about it a lot, and we broke it down and felt that we could beat them as long as we made adjustments. The last time we played them we lost by a two-point set and then a four-point set. We felt that it was a difference of one play, or a couple plays,” said Harrington. “We went in there feeling that we could beat them. I’m proud of the kids, they executed the adjustments we made and they stuck to the game plan. More than anything, we were consistent on the service line and that was the big difference.”
The Hawks jumped out to a strong start to begin the regular season, but hit a midseason low when they lost five of eight matches and even spent parts of the year outside of the playoff picture. However, they would hit their stride in the final matches of the schedule, and battled top-seeded Coventry in a tough 3-1 loss in the finale.
“We ended our regular season at Coventry and we battled them every set. We lost, but we left there feeling like we could play with any team. We had a real good end of the regular season and then we pulled off the upset, so we’re in a really good mindset. We have kids that can block, hit and pass. At this point in the season, it’s just as much physical as it is mental,” said Harrington.
Friday’s semis should be another tough matchup for the Hawks, as they split the season series 1-1 with the Skippers. The Hawks plan to be on the attack, while playing smart as well.
“When (the Skippers) are playing their best volleyball, they’re a powerhouse. They’re offense is tough to keep up with, they block well, they have good ball control. We know that it is going to be an even bigger challenge and we’ll have to change things up a little bit,” said Harrington. “We need to be aggressive serving, a little more aggressive attacking, but we split with them in the regular season and we know that we can beat them. We just need to be sharp, efficient and eliminate errors.”