WOONSOCKET --- A not-so-funny thing happened to Mount St. Charles Academy in its pursuit for its 50th consecutive victory earlier this week.
The Mounties claimed a 2-0 lead in their Division I match at home with South Kingstown High, only to watch the Rebels battle back to take the next three games and hand MSC its first defeat since 2008.
The loss was a bitter pill to swallow, but the Mounties found a way to bounce back nicely on Wednesday night and return to their winning ways at Coventry High’s expense.
Senior standouts Matt Boni and Matt Koback teamed up to unleash 29 kills at the net, and junior setter Pat Kennedy also turned in a solid performance in the Mounties’ 3-0 triumph on their home floor.
The Mounties improved to 4-1 with the win, and before MSC coach Josh D’Abate talked about the positives from his team’s victory and overall play in his postgame remarks, he reflected one last time on the end of his team’s 49-game win streak.
“It was going to happen sometime,” added D’Abate. “It was unfortunate it happened that night, but looking back at it, (S.K.) just outplayed us and played flawless in the third and fourth games. If it had to happen, I’d rather have it happen now than get to Rhode Island College (for the playoffs) and drop a match there.”
In order to get back on track, the Mounties had to top a defensive-minded Knotty Oakers team that came into the match with a 1-1 mark, but gave D’Abate plenty of concerns.
“Coventry is scrappy defensively,” remarked D’Abate, whose team topped the Oakers by scores of 25-19, 25-22, and 25-21. “I knew that coming in. I went to watch them play last week, so I knew they could really play some great defense.”
The Mounties responded to this challenge with a strong game, especially at the net, where Boni, a co-captain, belted 15 kills, the 6-foot-4 Koback had 14 kills and three blocks, and sophomore Chris Gerber, another 6-foot-4 presence, added seven blocks.
Junior Dan Cahaly was also good for four kills and five blocks, and senior Pat McCarthy contributed five kills.
Defensively, senior libero Chris Dugas led the way with 16 digs, and McCarthy and Boni each added a half dozen.
“Everyone played great,” said D’Abate. “I’m happy that we forgot about that (loss). They put it to bed on Monday night, they came to practice relaxed and had a nice easy practice yesterday, and they really played well today.”
Another player who played really well for the winners was Kennedy, who saw extensive time on the floor in place of the team’s regular setter, sophomore Ryan Durand, who was home with the flu. Kennedy filled in nicely by dishing out 38 assists and adding five digs.
“I thought he stepped in and played great,” said D’Abate. “He plays a couple of rotations in our regular matches just for a better flow for our team, but he came in and played all the way around. He’s only 5-foot-3 tops, but we didn’t have to take him out of the game for defensive purposes blocking-wise, so I was happy with the way he played tonight.”
D’Abate needed a great performance from Kennedy and the rest of his troops to stop the Oakers, who gave the Mounties a spirited battle in each of the three games and a real run for their money in the second one.
In that game, the Oakers led for most of the early going and had their biggest leads of the night (9-5 and 10-6) before the Mounties fought back to tie the score.
Both sides spent the rest of the game trading the lead back and forth, but with the score knotted at 22-22, the Mounties rattled off the next three points and recorded the final two on kills by Boni.
The Oakers also stormed out to a 5-2 lead in the third game, but the Mounties answered back by scoring nine of the next 10 points to take the lead for good.
“After losing on Monday, I didn’t know how we were going to respond,” noted D’Abate. “Sometimes you think, ‘Oh no, we lost a match we shouldn’t have lost.’ And when we were up 2-0 and they had the lead to start the third, it was like, ‘Oh no, here we go again.’ But we responded and did a great job.”
The Mounties are back in action tonight when they host Cranston East High at 6:30 p.m. in a rematch of the last two Division II championship series, both won by MSC.