PROVIDENCE — Like every other big-time hitter in the state, Classical’s Anita Hazziez wants the ball. In the fourth set on Friday, when it mattered most, she got it.
The Purple were nursing a 12-10 lead in the fourth set when Hazziez took over. The senior had seven kills and one block during Classical’s final 13 points, the last a blast that sent her team past West Warwick for a 25-14, 25-14, 23-25, 25-13 win in the Division II girls volleyball quarterfinals. It sent Classical to the semifinals against East Greenwich.
“I wanted to win. It’s the playoffs, you’ve got to go hard,” said Hazziez, who finished with 17 kills and four blocks. “I just wanted my team to win so we could take it far and take it to the next team.”
“Classical, they’re really good and have big girls that can hit,” West Warwick senior Sam Petrarca said. “We really needed to dig and put everything we had onto the floor. It was tough.”
Petrarca wasn’t kidding, especially considering that Hazziez’s swings are an act of violence. When the Purple's passing worked — like it did in the first and second sets — Hazziez and the rest of the hitters feasted; when Classical struggled with serve receive, like it did in the third, it struggled to do anything against the feisty Wizards.
In the fourth, Hazziez was the setter for Annette Milburn’s go-to. They hooked up three times early in the set to build a lead, but after Petrarca served the Wizards up four points, West Warwick had the momentum down 12-11.
“We start messing up in our passing and we start to get in our heads,” Milburn said. “Once we mess up one point, it’s usually a run.”
Hazziez ended the run in its tracks with a kill off a Wizard dig and later added back-to-back kills to make it 18-11. The teams traded points, but Hazziez came up with a big block to stop any semblance of momentum to put the Purple up, 23-13.
After an ace by Milburn gave them match point, Hazziez closed it with an overpowering kill to finish a set that was simply Classical volleyball at its finest.
“We’re at our best when we’re passing and moving well on the court,” Classical coach John Polinick said. “Our middles are our strengths and you could definitely see that tonight in the offense.”
Hazziez had the big numbers, but she’s hardly the only weapon Milburn has at her disposal. Angelly Polanco finished with 14 kills and Symone Williams and Janelly Polanco both had six.
“My hitters are great,” said Milburn, who finished with 37 assists. “It’s really nice.”
“This year I think a lot of people stepped up because they didn’t want what happened last year to happen again,” Hazziez said. “We’re working as a team a lot to get that W.”