Warwick, R.I. – July 16, 2016: The CCRI Lady Knights volleyball team hosted six teams to the Flanagan Fieldhouse in Lincoln, RI for the 2017 dig Pink/sophomore Day Volleyball Tournament on Saturday. There were two brackets a Division III bracket with Northern Essex Community College from Haverhill, MA; Mass Bay Community College from Fall River, MA; Howard Community College from Columbia, MD and the County College of Morris from Randolph, NJ. There was also a Division II bracket featuring CCRI, CCBC-Essex from Baltimore, MD and Morton College from Cicero, IL. During the tournament, the Lady Knights went 2-2 which improved their overall record to 17-7 on the season.
The Lady Knights started off their Dig Pink Tournament on a high note, playing a rematch versus the Knights of CCBC-Essex whom they faced during Howard College’s Dragon Invite. In their battle at Howard the CCRI Lady Knights garnered a five-set victory and CCRI was ready for another dogfight. However, this match was much different. After a great few days of practice leading up to the tournament, CCRI got back to what made them so successful earlier this season utilizing tenacious defense and aggressive serving which led to a CCRI sweep of CCBC-Essex to start their home tournament off on the right foot. Co-Captain Setter Dahlia Rafael-Tirado (Providence, RI) led the team with five aces, seven digs, and 29 assists. CCRI’s offense was led by outside hitters Roselyn Vasquez (Providence, RI) with 13 kills, an ace, and 23 digs and Tara Watters (West Warwick, RI) added 10 Kills, two blocks, 19 digs, and an ace.
The Lady Knights knew that this would be their toughest match of the season to date. The Panthers of Morton hail from one of the strongest conferences in NJCAA DII and typically play like a well-oiled machine. CCRI split their two matches versus Morton last season and the Panthers came out strong in the first set going up 11-3 before CCRI battled back to win a donnybrook of a first set 28-26. The Lady Knights kept their foot on the gas winning the second set convincingly 25-15. Head Coach Will Amaral told the Lady Knights “keep the energy high and the pressure on because Morton has the ability, just like us, to come back”…and they did. Morton fought valiantly for the next three sets to give CCRI the loss, making the Lady Knights the No. 2 seed and having to battle CCBC in the Semifinals rather than have a bye to the Championship Match. Tara Watters was an absolute monster with a career-high 17 kills while adding five aces and 28 digs! Roselyn Vasquez had another strong performance with 11 kills and 23 digs. Ivelisse Serrano (Providence, RI) had a strong outing with nine kills. Sam Elkas (Cumberland, RI) finished with five kills, an ace, and four digs. Co-Captain Dahlia Tirado quarterbacked the attack with 40 assists while adding 10 digs, and another two aces.
This being the third consecutive match for the Lady Knights, and losing the last game vs Morton in dramatic fashion, CCRI came out extremely flat dropping the first two sets to Essex. The Co-Captains Dahlia Tirado and Megan Johns (Oakland, RI) rallied the team to get them into the right mindset and the Lady Knights battled back in three nail-biting wins to emerge victorious in the semi-final match. Tirado led the way with one of her strongest performance of the season which included 43 assists, three aces, nine digs, and four kills. Ivelisse Serrano also had her strongest with a career-high 14 kills while adding three aces, 16 digs, and an assist. Tara Watters again was a force with a team-leading 33 digs while adding 11 kills and two aces. Sam Elkas and Megan Johns were forces at the net with Elkas adding four Blocks and a career-high nine Blocks for Megan Johns!
Now the fourth straight match for CCRI, the girls didn’t show much in the way of physical tiredness but mentally they couldn’t maintain such high focus for so many consecutive matches. They fought hard taking the first set 25-19 but eventually succumbed to too many mental errors and the high-powered offense of Morton dropping the next three sets to take runner-up at their Dig Pink tournament. Dahlia Tirado led the Lady Knights with a career-high 45 assists, a block, and an ace. Tara Watters tied her career high with 17 kills while adding another 28 digs and an ace. Roselyn Vasquez added another 10 kills and 12 digs.
Coach Amaral commented after the tournament: “After the last two weeks, the girls showed that they can mentally shift mentally from having bad practices carry over to bad games to having great practices carry on to wins and comebacks…..I always tell my players that you will learn a lot more from a hard-fought loss than a blowout win any day and this will just better prepare them for Districts and Nationals.”
Coach Amaral had reason to be proud of the Lady Knights’ efforts as CCRI charted season-highs with 31 blocks, 169 kills and 168 assists during the tournament!
The next match for the Lady Knights will be Tuesday the 10th when they travel to Bunker Hill Community College in Charlestown, MA for a Region XXI non-league match beginning at 7:00pm.
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The Community College of Rhode Island, New England’s largest comprehensive community college, enrolls nearly 16,000 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.