For the first time since 1980, Old Rochester Regional High School volleyball is the cream of the crop in the South Coast Conference. After going a perfect 11-0 throughout the regular season, the Bulldogs managed to secure the SCC title by knocking off Somerset Berkley, GNB Voc-Tech and Case.
“Going into that last game, we knew it was going to be the hardest game because we were going for both the undefeated season and the SCC; Case was going for the SCC and some revenge,” ORR coach Jimmy Oliveira said. “I absolutely think we got their best game. It was three sets, but it felt like a five-set thriller…. We were put in situations at the end of each set where we were tested, and we didn’t buckle. We didn’t leave the door open for them, and we finished the job.”
While it took over four decades for ORR to earn another SCC volleyball banner, the 2020-21 Fall II season was only Oliveira’s fourth as varsity head coach. Winning the conference is a goal he has set for the team since he was promoted from coaching the JV squad, but now he doesn’t want his players to stop at the SCC title in the coming seasons.
“Now that we’ve won the SCC, I want it to be the expectation now that they know that we’re capable of doing it,” ORR’s head coach said. “I think our confidence was riding high after beating Bourne, Case, and Voc-Tech, but I think finally getting over the hump and winning the SCC will go a long way with the group that we have returning, as well as the younger kids that go to witness it.”
Of course, a perfect regular season with an SCC title was the absolute best the Bulldogs could have done this year. There was no MIAA state tournament for them to contend in due to the pandemic, but Oliveira thinks there was a little something extra his players walked away with this season — to go with their flawless record.
“This team, yes, it was skilled – and I’ve said it before – but I think they really came together as a group on and off the court,” he said. “I feel like it’s hard to tell kids, ‘I want you to take life lessons from this, I don’t want it to be just about volleyball.’ I think this group really came around on that and they bought into that idea. They were able to push each other without having issues on the team, [and] I was able to push them. They’re just a great group of kids that responded really well.
“I’m not here to be a preacher and tell them, ‘This is right, and this is wrong,’ but I want them to learn some things that they’ll find valuable in life. Whether they go onto college or a job, I want them to think back and be like, ‘Coach did this and it kind of relates.’”
Old Rochester Regional Football
After an up-and-down regular season, ORR football worked its way into a chance at winning the SCC Blue Division title. They just had to get through their Thanksgiving Day rival, Apponequet. Unfortunately for the Bulldogs, an SCC title was not in the cards after losing to the Lakers on May 8.
Despite being on the wrong side of the 42-7 finish, the Bulldogs were the first to score in the game. Ryon Thomas found his brother, Dylon Thomas, for a 27-yard touchdown pass, then ORR’s QB knocked him the PAT to take an early 7-0 lead in the first quarter. From there, it was all Apponequet.
By Nick Friar