Saints net historic regular-season title

Saints net historic regular-season title

St. Raphael Academy senior captain Sydney Charette, shown bumping the ball during last Thursday night’s match against Shea High, had seven kills, 11 aces, and 14 digs to help lead the Saints to a 3-1 victory. (Breeze photo by Kayla Panu)
Girls’ volleyball squad takes 15-1 record into next week’s Division III semifinals vs. Shea

PAWTUCKET – The St. Raphael Academy girls’ volleyball team wanted to accomplish a couple of things during its Senior Night last Thursday, and one of them was to clinch the seven-year-old program’s first regular-season championship.

And the Saints were able to do that by posting a 3-1 triumph over Division III-A rival Shea that not only secured their title, but also gave them the top seed in the six-team D-III playoffs.

“And we finally broke the curse of playing Shea on Senior Night,” SRA head coach Eric Silveira said. “We were up two sets (when we played them) last year and lost in five. We definitely broke the curse this year and I’m happy about that.”

It was no easy feat, as the Saints took the first two sets by scores of 25-21 and 26-24, but struggled through the third before dropping it by a 25-21 score. But the Saints bounced back to win the next set, 25-18, and claim their fifth straight match since suffering a 3-1 loss at Narragansett on Oct. 3.

The Raiders, who fell to 9-7, gave the Saints a run for their money in the opening set and led by as many as nine points before the Saints took over. The second set was the same way, as neither team let up.

The third set was back and forth, but the Raiders snapped a 14-14 tie and held off the Saints the rest of the way. In the fourth set, the Saints grabbed a 5-0 lead behind the service of SRA senior captain Sydney Charette and never looked back.

“We played decently in the first two sets,” Silveira said. “The third set, we started getting in our own heads with a lot of mental errors, but we finally picked it up in the fourth set.”

Charette, who served a pair of aces to finish out the second set, had a solid match that saw her collect 11 aces, seven kills, and 14 digs. Korto Jackson also had eight kills and six blocks.

Last year, in Silveira’s first year coaching the girls, the Saints had their first winning season and made their first trip to the playoffs, reaching the semifinals before falling to Johnston. That was the best season in the team’s history – until this year.

“This feels amazing,’’ Silveira said. “The girls got a taste of what the semifinals and the playoffs were like, so they were hungry coming into this season. They knew that they would have a good season, but I don’t think they expected (a season like) this.”

The Saints wrapped up their regular season on Sunday afternoon by visiting RIIL newcomer Block Island and coming away with a 3-0 victory that raised their record to 15-1. The Saints, who received six kills and a dozen aces from Charette, swept the match by scores of 25-18, 25-17, and 25-12.

The Saints will host a playoff match for the first time in their history when they face Shea again in the D-III semifinals on Thursday, Nov. 15, at 6 p.m. The Raiders took on Central in a quarterfinal-round match on Monday night at the Providence Career & Technical Academy and posted a 3-0 victory, winning by scores of 25-22, 25-20, and 27-25.