The CCRI Lady Knights Volleyball team hosted the Division II Volleyball District L Tournament On Saturday and Sunday. The tournament participants were Genesse Community College from Batavia NY as Region III champion, Delaware Technical Community College from Stanton DE as Region XIX champion, No. 10 ranked (NJCAA DII poll) Monroe College from New Rochelle, NY as Region XV champion and the CCRI Lady Knights as the Region XXI representative.
This tournament, like the Lady Knights' season, had it's ups and downs and although the coaching staff lived and died with every point, the Lady Knights players showed great poise and sportsmanship on the court at all times. Led by Sophomore Tri-Captains Janny Cabrera (Providence, RI), Chelsea O'Connor (Pawtucket, RI) and Haley Greenwood (Goldsboro, NC). The young ladies fought with all the had and showed that hard work will beat talent when talent stops working hard!
CCRI's first match against the No. 10 ranked Monroe Mustangs. Head Coach Sam Amaral commented "This had to be one of the most exciting matches we have ever seen our girls play. The last two meetings with Monroe had been more competitive with every set, giving Lady Knights the confidence they needed to show them that Monroe can be beaten just like any other team! We came out with such fire that it knocked Monroe down a notch." Monroe (36-6) had only been taken to five sets in a match six times the entire season and CCRI made it seven! "It was the first time The Lady Knights had ever taken a set from them this year and it was amazing!" Amaral added.
CCRI took the first two games 25-21 and 26-24 and had them in the third set, 17-14 with fantastic serving including nine aces in the first set alone and nearly perfect serve receive helping run the offenses The Lady Knights wanted to run. Unfortunately, the Monroe Soccer team came in at 17-14 in the third set and took over our gym. Our Lady Knights wanted the win so badly the made some untimely errors and dropped set three 20-25. CCRI fought hard the next two sets but their great serving couldn't offset more untimely errors and Monroe took the match victory winning the last two sets 25-18 and 15-7.
The Lady Knights were frustrated but determined to fight their way back in this double elimination tournament! CCRI's next match was against Delaware Tech CC and other than some miscues on offense and over aggressive serving in set three where they lost 23-25, CCRI was in control of the entire match. the Lady Knights defeated Del Tech: 25-11, 25-11, 23-25, and 25-11. Behind some great blocking, our defense did nothing short of amaze the CCRI coaching staff. "It finally all clicked!" added Amaral. Janny Cabrera took this match over with nine kills and zero errors, hitting .818 in set one and the rest of the team followed her lead. Cabrera finished the match with 24 kills, two aces, seven digs and 3three solo blocks. Omayra Corchado (Isabela, PR) finished the match with 38 Digs, a block, 12 kills, and two aces. Haley Greenwood had 28 digs and five aces. Alyssa Salinas (Corpus Christi, TX) finished with 42 assists, four kills (.444) six Aces, and 14 digs. Delyn Pizzaro (Homestead, FL) had two solo blocks and five kills (.214) while Chelsea O'Connor, Jincy Phann (Cranston, RI), Lindsey Proulx (Warwick, RI), and Sarah Keomorokot (Pawtucket, RI) combined for 26 digs!
Match three, on Sunday, was a rematch of last year's District Semi-finals vs the Cougars of Genesee CC. The Lady Knights knocked them out of last year's tournament and at The CCRI invite this season, so Genesee was looking for revenge! The Cougars beat CCRI 17-25 and 17-25 in our last meeting back in September. The Lady Knights came out slowly and made way too many errors. This cost CCRI the first two sets as they fell 17-25 and 18-25. Coach Amaral pulled the girls aside and explained: "We cannot allow our season to end like this and that it's all on you from this point on...there was nothing more the coaches could do." The girls huddled up and came out with some serious passion. With their backs against the wall and season hanging on every point, CCRI battled and in assistant coach Will Amaral 's opinion "had the most exciting match I have ever had the privilege of watching, as a coach or a player, Our girls showed some much heart it could be felt in the stands!" The Lady Knights came back to win the next three sets in dramatic fashion: 25-18, 25-16, and 17-15! Janny Cabrera, once again, led with 24 kills, six Solo Blocks, five digs and an ace. Omayra Corchado had 12 kills, two aces, and 28 digs. Phann had 14 digs and a Solo Block. Haley Greenwood had 18 digs and two aces. O'Connor, five digs and flawless serve and receive. Rounding out the Lady Knights' top performers was Alyssa Salinas with 35 Assists, two Aces, six Kills and 19 digs, Delyn Pizzaro had two solo blocks and three kills, and Sarah Keomorokot added nine digs and two aces.
All the drama led to another deja vu moment, now having to face 10th ranked Monroe College again in the District finals. After the emotional win vs. Genesee the CCRI fought with all they had but couldn't keep up with Monroe this time around. Monroe made fewer errors and The Lady Knights made just a few more which helped the Mustangs win: 16-25, 14-25, and 13-25. With the final loss, the Lady Knights end their season with an excellent 14-8 overall record.
Head Coach Sam Amaral summed up the tournament in her final comments: "In this tournament, there were so many great plays but a few things stand out. Chelsea's tenacity on the court was infectious. Whether screaming spots for Omayra to hit, cheering loudly for every point or having a way about her the let the opponents know she was ready for anything, she exuded confidence and was a great floor captain. Another was Lindsey's never say die attitude on the court was amazing to see. She got a shot to start at Districts and took every opportunity to let us know it was a smart decision. She took some of the hardest hit balls and made amazing passes off of them and never once showed and once of fear! This season has been one we will never forget! All of the trials and tribulations, many practices in between games, injuries, scheduling conflicts...HARD WORK... it all paid off.
Assistant coach Will Amaral added "This team has come further than any team I have ever had the privilege of being a part of. The entire coaching staff is so very proud of each and every one of the Lady Knights. To the Sophomores, you will be greatly missed and we wish you all the best of luck! To the Freshman, we have a lot of hard work ahead of us but know that we absolutely cannot wait until. next season!"
The Community College of Rhode Island, New England's largest comprehensive community college, enrolls nearly 18,000 students in credit courses and thousands more in non-credit and job training classes. Its athletic program boasts 12 varsity programs and an academic support program for all student-athletes.