WOONSOCKET —The Chariho High boys’ volleyball team needed all of senior Zach Wilcox’s career high 22 kills to knock out Mount St. Charles, 3-2, in the Division I quarterfinals Thursday and advance to Monday’s semifinals.
Wilcox’s final kill sealed a 17-15 fifth-game win to give the Chargers (12-6 overall, No. 4 seed in Division I-South) a come-from-behind victory over the Mounties, the No. 1 seed in Division I-North.
Chariho won by scores of 18-25, 25-20, 13-25, 25-17 and 17-15. The Chargers will play Coventry, Division I-South’s No. 2 seed and a 3-1 winner over Cranston East, at 7:30 p.m. in the semifinals Monday at Providence Career & Technical. This is Chariho’s deepest advancement in the states since reaching the finals in 2010.
“I’ve been there as a player and coach, but this is this group’s first taste of the final four, so to speak,” Chariho coach Doug Bliven said. “They are excited and deservedly so because they have worked their butt off after last season (7-12).”
While Division I-South has dominated the North in head-to-head meetings this season, including Chariho’s 3-0 win over the Mounties, Bliven said Mount St. Charles played like a division champ Thursday.
“We saw a completely different team,” he said. “We’d seen them on tape since we swept them and figured they’d come out a lot tougher. They were very good and kept us guessing by moving their offense around. They were very difficult to block and at times took over the game.”
Chariho regrouped in the fourth game largely behind the kills of Wilcox and Robbie Toth (18 kills) and excellent jump serving. The Chargers totaled 11 aces, four apiece by Wilcox and Toth and two by Brandon Eaton.
“They all have strong jump serves,” Bliven said. “They either overpowered them for aces in open spaces or created easy returns for us to set up our offense. We kicked it into gear and had a nice statement win in game four and held an 11-6 lead in game five.”
Wilcox led Chariho with 25 digs, while Ben NeJame had 19 and Steven Philipp had 15. Philipp also added 33 assists.
“Even though we started the last game well, they were serving for the match up 14-13,” Bliven said. “We survived when they served out of bounds, then Zach went up for a big kill that only he can do, over their blockers to win it. Every one of his kills was huge and the last one was the biggest of his life. We lost to Coventry, 3-1 and 3-0, but in neither game did we have our full lineup.”
No. 6 Ponaganset............. 5
No. 11 Chariho.................. 4
NORTH SCITUATE — Ponaganset plated the winning run on a wild pitch in the bottom of the 10th inning Thursday and the Chieftains advance in the Region III winners’ bracket of the Division II tournament.
Chariho (10-8) took a 4-3 lead with a run in the top of the 10th when Chris Edgerley was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded to plate Kyle Kirby.
Ponaganset opened the 10th with three straight singles, the third of which tied the game at 4-4, and had runners at first and third with no outs. Chariho intentionally loaded the bases and got one out on a pop-up in the infield before a wild pitch brought home the winning run.
Chariho starter Alex Tefft pitched 9-1/3 innings and allowed nine hits. He struck out five and walked four.
The Chargers now face No. 3 Westerly on Saturday at 1 p.m. in an elimination game at Westerly’s Cimalore Field.
“It was just a real sloppy game. They had some hits and had one clutch hit, but we gave them too many runners when we could have ended innings and it came back to bite us. Alex pitched one of his best outings, he threw almost 10 innings and was throwing strikes,” Chariho coach Andy Devereaux said.
The Chargers broke a 2-2 tie with a run in the top of the fifth. Tefft had a bases-loaded single to plate Adam Harvey to make it 3-2. Tefft went 2 for 5 with an RBI on the day.
The Chieftains (12-9) evened the game with a run in the bottom of the sixth. Chariho started the inning with an infield error and a passed ball. Tefft got two outs before Ponaganset’s No. 9 hitter hit a bloop single to tie the game at 3-3.
Zac Kittell went 2 for 5 with a run scored for the Chargers and Jake Blacklock went 3 for 5 with three singles.
Chariho dropped both regular season games against Westerly. The Bulldogs fell 2-1 to No. 14 Central High Thursday in Region III play Thursday.
“Westerly is a good team. We’ll need to bring our ‘A’ game,” Devereaux said. “Our whole season has been an off-on switch so we’ll see. Are we capable of winning four in a row? (to win the regional) Yes we’ve done it, but are we capable of committing five errors in game? We’ve done that, too.”
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