The Titans rallied back to edge the Pilgrim Patriots 2-1 (17-25), (25-15), (25-23) during a unified volleyball matchup on senior day at Toll Gate High School on Tuesday afternoon.
Titans coach Matt Conti was ecstatic after watching his club come back.
“Oh my God, I think they had a tremendous game,” Conti said. “We’ve had a couple of close games, this one was by far the closest, and it showed our team had some good character. We got our serves over when the pressure was on, we passed when the pressure was on, and we had a couple of players that had the games of their lives.”
Pilgrim drew a 4-1 lead in the first set when Peter Kay, a junior, scored back-to-back points on serve.
Then, Toll Gate, fought back and took a 6-5 lead, following a kill from Julian Rhaney and aces from Joey Egan and Diana Alarcon.
Shortly after that, Pilgrim sophomore Natalie Gonzalez slammed an ace down and that knotted the game at 8.
The Pats went up 12-9 a little later, after Toll Gate’s Siya Parelch committed a service error and then, Pilgrim’s Matt Conceicao served three straight aces.
Next, Chris Follett, of the Pats, scored three aces of his own and extended the Pilgrim buffer to six.
Then, Pilgrim junior Allison Rodrigues scored three more aces and upped the Pilgrim margin to 19-10.
The Pats got to game-point when Caitlyn Garant, a sophomore, scored a return, before John Plunkett, a junior, earned the 25-17 win, batting an ace on serve.
Toll Gate jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the second set when John Beaulieu opened with a point on serve before Anthony Rossi scored on back-to-back returns.
Next, Pilgrim knotted the game at 3 when Rodrigues tallied a return before Haley Gonnella, a junior, scored two points on serve.
The Pats and Titans would tie again at 6 before Toll Gate recorded seven straight points and drew a 13-6 advantage. That spurt began when Parelch and Ethan Nicoletti, each scored three points on serve before Rhaney followed with a return.
The Titans upped their cushion to 20-9, a little while later, when Rossi scored two points on serve.
Toll Gate drew set-point when Rossi scored a return and finally, Beaulieu, the game-winner for a Titans 25-15 victory, which evened the match at 1 set apiece.
In the third and final set, Beaulieu scored a return and gave Toll Gate the first point.
Shortly after, Diego Alarcon hit an ace and extended the Titans margin to 3-1.
Pilgrim tied the set at 5 after Kay scored a point on serve.
Then, the Pats took a 9-7 lead after two points from Rodrigues on serve.
But the Titans fought back and went up 14-10 after three consecutive aces from Rhaney.
The Titans maintained that advantage before drawing an 18-13 lead, following a Parelch point on serve.
Then, Toll Gate extended its cushion to 22-13 on back-to-back points from Rhaney, a point on serve from Egan, and an ace from Kaylah Staknis.
But just when it looked like the Pats were cooked, Pilgrim made it a game, scoring nine straight points and deadlocking the game at 23. That streak featured four points from Gonzalez and three points from Jared Reminder, plus returns from Conceicao and Rodrigues.
Nonetheless, Toll Gate escaped with the 25-23 victory when Plunkett committed a service error and lastly the Titans Rossi finished with a return.
“I think that the word ‘unified’ came into play today good,” Conti said. “Our whole team. The athletes and the partners, it was truly a team win today.”
Pilgrim coach Nisa San Giovanni felt her team played well up front. Another bright spot for the Pats was freshman Zach McMillan, who in his wheelchair fired some missiles while serving with the help of his teammate freshman Charles Clements.
“John (Plunkett), Olivia (Hauke), Matt (Conceicao) had some great play at the net,” San Giovanni said. “Also, Zach has been working really hard on his serve and had his best effort at the game so far!”
Pilgrim plays next on Thursday at East Greenwich High School at 4 p.m. while Toll Gate plays next on Monday at Bishop Hendricken High School at 3:30 p.m.