After a rough first day at the Dragon invitational at Howard Community College in Columbia, Maryland, the Lady Knights were back in action looking to improve on their day one performance. The Lady Knights were the No. 3 seed coming out of pool play thanks to the win over CCBC-Essex. The Lady Knights went 2-1 in bracket play to finish second at the Dragon Invitational. With the 2-1 record on the day, the Lady Knights improve to 6-3 on the season.
Lady Knights beat
Montgomery College in the quarterfinals: 16-25, 25-23, 25-21 & 25-18
With a formidable opponent in the Raptors of Montgomery College, the Lady Knights knew that they would have to continue the momentum from the night before if they wanted to continue to play. Montgomery came out on fire and a few mental errors on CCRI’s part led to a quick five-point deficit, but the Lady Knights fought back to reduce the Raptors’ lead. Even though CCRI dropped the first set, it kept saying, “We didn’t drive nine hours to end like this.” The next three games saw the Lady Knights serve aggressively, play tenacious defense and keep the ball in play. These were the keys to keeping the Raptors’ middle hitters out of system and eventually led to the Lady Knights’ 3-1 victory. Stars of the match included Angelis Perez (Central Falls, Rhode Island) with seven aces and 28 digs and Sam Elkas (Cumberland, Rhode Island) with five kills, four blocks and two aces. Also having a good match was Dahlia Rafael-Tirado (Providence, Rhode Island) with 27 assists and 10 digs, Roselyn Vasquez (Providence, Rhode Island) with eight kills, nine digs a block and an ace and Tara Watters (West Warwick, Rhode Island) added 10 kills, a block, an ace and 27 digs.
Lady Knights beat
Nassau CC in the
semifinals: 25-23, 25-17 & 25-22
CCRI’s second match of the day was a rematch from their first loss of the year: the Lions of Nassau Community College. After analyzing the stats from the previous match and watching the Lions play, Head Coach Will Amaral had a strategy to nullify their big middle hitter, which called for a dramatic blocking and defensive shift and very aggressive serving to force her into difficult situations. Amaral commented, “The Lady Knights bought in to the idea and executed the scheme to near perfection. They could taste the finals and were determined to get their revenge.”
The ladies fought hard and kept control of the match from beginning to end. Ivelisse Serrano (Arecibo, Puerto Rico) had a good game with six kills, nine digs and a solo block. Tara Watters (West Warwick, Rhode Island) and Megan Johns (Oakland, Rhode Island) each had a monster game. Watters finished with eight kills, two aces, and 23 digs, while Johns hit 55.6 percent with five kills on nine attempts and a solo block. Roselyn Vasquez had seven kills, two aces, nine digs and a block. Angelis Perez had 19 digs and two aces, while Dahlia Rafael-Tirado finished with 27 assists, nine digs, an ace and a block.
Lady Knights fall in the championship to Southern Maryland: 11-25, 25-21, 22-25, 18-25
The finals were against the well-rested No. 1 seed College of Southern Maryland. It was a very tall squad with solid passing, textbook blocking and two fantastic hitters. Going into the warm-up, the Lady Knights’ energy was low and the amount of games played seemed to be catching up to them. This continued as the match started as they came out very flat and seemed to be defeated before the match started, losing easily in set one.
Amaral reminded his team, “When we play for each other and play our brand of volleyball, we can compete with the best.”
From there, the Lady Knights came out with a fire CSM did not expect. Amaral added, “It’s always fun to beat a team that thinks you’re a pushover.”
With CCRI serving aggressively and chasing every dig and touch on defense, the team stunned and exhausted CSM in the second set to even the score, 1-1. The only difference between these teams was that CCRI made just a few untimely mental errors, and that cost it the match. That is what helped CSM win, 3-1.
Sam Elkas (Cumberland, Rhode Island) held strong at the net with three solo blocks and an ace. Dahlia Rafael-Tirado ran the CCRI offense with 26 assists, eight digs and a kill. Roselyn Vasquez had 15 kills, two aces and six digs. Tara Watters had four kills, 20 digs, a block and an ace, with Angelis Perez running the defense with 26 digs and adding an ace.
Amaral commented after the tournament: “This tournament had its ups and downs, but it was an absolute blast and the girls grew a ton individually and as a team. We learned that we could be down and still come back, lose and shake it off, and compete with some of best competition in the Mid-Atlantic. We still have a lot of work to do, but so far this is a great start to the season.” Both Roselyn and Angelis made the All-Tournament Team, and the team finished with 196 kills, 478 digs, 29 Blocks, 184 assists and 59 aces.
The next matches for the Lady Knights will be Saturday, Sept. 16, when they host Frederick Community College and Fashion Institute of Technology for the 2017 CCRI Volleyball Classic Invitational in Lincoln.