By Justin A. Rice, Globe Correspondent
Most volleyball matches between Dorchester and CASH Academy seem to go five sets.
So, it was feasible that visiting Dorchester was going to go the distance on Wednesday afternoon after winning the third set despite, dropping the first two.
“That always happens with them,” CASH senior Gabriella Caruffo said after serving 29 aces to help her team win, 3-1. “We always win the first two and they come back, but I’m glad we won the fourth game. We wanted it.”
CASH (4-6) cruised in the opening games (25-16 and 25-20) before Dorchester (2-7) responded in the third, 25-20. CASH reasserted itself in the fourth, winning 25-10.
In the opening match of the season, Dorchester defeated CASH, 3-2, after losing the first two games. The teams split two five-set matches last season.
“They hustle, they are really good,” Caruffo said of Dorchester. “They are a comeback team. When they see they are down, they want to win.”
Caruffo served winners on the first 16 points of the match to set the tone.
“It was awesome,” she said. “Last year my serve, I was twisting my hand, so this year I fixed it. I practiced the whole summer and fixed my serve.”
CASH coach Elizabeth James said Caruffo was one of the only players on the team who consistently showed up for August practices. She said that while many girls on the team had to work, Caruffo was able to arrange her work schedule around practice.
“Gaby is the only one I have that I have coached for three years,” James said. “Almost everyone else it’s their first year or second year. Today [her practice] paid off. She’s still a little bit more inconsistent than I’d like, but today her serve was on the money.
“She will be missed when she’s gone.”
Dorchester coach Amie Capodanno was also impressed by Caruffo’s serve.
“They got beat by a serve,” she said. “They let it get to them. But they hung in there and they played the game well on some levels.”
While Capodanno said her team could have attacked more, she was pleased to see it take the third game.
“That was good, we’re trying to work on endurance and being able not to give up,” she said. “Persistence is something we try to teach them. It’s never over till it’s over.”
After falling behind, 9-0, in the second game, Dorchester took an early lead of its own in the third, 7-2.
Dorchester led, 18-13, before calling a timeout after CASH went on a run to go up, 19-18.
Coming out of the timeout, sophomore Tatyana Adams served three winning points before giving up one, making the score 21-20, Dorchester.
But the Bears won the next four points to take the game.
“We tend to not get warmed up till after the first game,” Capodanno said. “We’re used to losing the first game, coming back, and struggling to win the next three games.”
Dorchester struggled in the final game, as Caruffo went on another service run. This time it was for 11 straight points, including four aces.
The Bears managed to stop the run when sophomore setter Radisha Vassell’s over-the-shoulder bump trickled over the net and hit the floor to make the score 23-10. But Dorchester served into the net on the next point, before junior Diamond Hawkins served out the match for CASH.
James said she’s not sure why her team struggles with Dorchester.
“I really don’t understand it,” James said. “They are one of the best hustle teams and they are brave when it comes to going for balls out of bounds. But in my opinion, we play better volleyball.
“They don’t give up. My girls tend to get really discouraged really quickly, where Dorchester, they fight to the end.”
About Boston Public Schools Sports BlogMore »
- Justin A. Rice -- A metro Detroit native, Rice is a Michigan State University (Go Spartans!) and Northeastern University graduate. Rice lives in the South End with his dog and wife, who unfortunately attended the University of Michigan ... his wife, that is. He curates the BPS Sports Blog and is always looking to write about city athletes with great stories. Have an idea? He can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeJustinRice or @BPSspts.
- Ryan Butler -- A Rhode Island native and avid Boston sports fan, Butler played basketball, baseball and football throughout his time in Barrington Public Schools. Now currently in his middler year at Northeastern University, he joins Boston.com as a correspondent for the site's BPS coverage. Have a story idea? Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on his Twitter @butler_globe.