Unified Volleyball: State Champs Again!

by | Nov 14, 2023

Above: The 2023 EGHS Unified Volleyball team after winning their third straight title Saturday. Photo by Chuck Nadeau

They beat Hendricken 2-1 at Rhode Island College Saturday

It was deja vu all over again for the East Greenwich Unified Volleyball team, beating Bishop Hendricken Saturday (11/11/23) in the state championship for the third year in a row. They dropped the first game 27-25, then recovered to win the next two 25-20 and 25-7. As usual, the games had spectators on the edge of their seats with fans on both sides cheering them on. 

“It was definitely a nail biter yesterday,” said Coach Patty Carosotto Sunday. “Our first game went back and forth with only a 1 or 2 point difference throughout the entire game. We were at 24 with the game point serve and then Hendricken tied it up. We then scored a point with the score going to 25-24 with us serving. Once again Hendricken tied the score with 25-25. Then Hendricken ended up scoring 26-25 and ended up winning 27-25. It was such a close first game.” 

The team regrouped. 

“We had been there before two years earlier when we faced Hendricken in the State Championship game losing our first game. I said, ‘I guess we want to play three games today, so let’s do it.’ Those seniors who are our captains knew what that felt like and knew what they had to do to lead the team.” 

Hendricken jumped to a big lead in game 2, however, with the score suddenly 15-4 Hawks. 

“We had to dig deep to get us out of this hole,” said Carosotto. “We all knew we didn’t want to end our season with a 0-2 state championship match. We just needed to score one point at a time and [know] if we lose a point we need to get a sideout and get it back right away. With that mentality we scored 6 straight points and before we knew it we had the lead. We didn’t look back and the will to win was back on our side.”

They entered game 3 with a strong focus, she said. 

“We had a job to do and there was nothing going to stop us. Both teams played unified but I feel that East Greenwich just wore them out. We took the lead and never looked back. If we lost a point we got it back right away. The final score of the last game was 25-7,” Carosotto said.

How did they do it? A lot of hard work, said Carosotto.

“We practice 4 days a week all season and the last week which was pretty intense reviewing every scenario possible and refining our skills. I believed that was where we had the advantage especially the 3rd game. We spent so much time working hard, staying unified, and reminiscing on how far we have come this season. It was so nice for all the fans in the stands to witness the match. In the end these teams display what is right in the world: Inclusion, friendships, empathy, and strong competition.”

For the captains, Saturday’s win was a great way to go out. 

“The team, the players, and the coaches mean so much to me, and I’m so lucky to have gotten to play with so many great people through my four years on the team,” said Ryan Fay. “I have nothing but admiration for everyone involved. Winning the state championship is the best feeling in the world. It is always the cherry on top of an incredible season.

“Seeing everyone’s eyes light up as we edge closer to a win or as an athlete scores a pivotal point will never fail to bring me joy,” he added. “I got the chance to step into a leadership role, and I hope I’ve set a good example for the younger players and that they took something away as I and the rest of the seniors tried our hardest to leave behind our knowledge of the game. I’m so incredibly proud of the team for never giving up, even when we were down.”

Fellow captain Alex Gendron also has been with the team since freshman year.  

“Winning the championship was incredible, especially considering how long my fellow captains and I had talked about winning three championships,” said Gendron. “We knew it was possible and made our goals known to the team early in the season. Everyone made important contributions and it felt amazing for all of our hard work to pay off.”

Sean Giannelli agreed.

It feels amazing!” he said. “All the hard work we put in as a team throughout the whole season finally paid off. Even after winning three in a row, it’s a feeling that I will never get used to!”

Fay captured what perhaps all the seniors were thinking. 

“Now that my time with the team has officially concluded, I am excited to see what the future holds for the program,” he said. “I know the skies are the limit for the team, and I am excited for the team to be back in the championship next year. I, for one, can’t wait to be there, this time cheering on my former teammates.”

This photographer will be there too.

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