The Cranston East girls volleyball team picked up a thrilling 3-2 win over crosstown rival Cranston West last week.
The Bolts jumped out to a 25-13 win in the first set, but the momentum was short-lived as the Falcons took the second set 25-22. East bounced back to win the third set 25-18, but West hung in it by grinding out a tough 26-24 win in the fourth to force the decisive fifth set.
East came out sharp in the final round and cruised to a 15-8 victory to win the match.
“It’s great because this was the only time that we would face them (in the regular season). When looking at the schedule for the rest of the season, when looking at (our records) and considering possible playoff seeding, getting this win was huge,” said East coach Meg McGonagle. “It’s always that type of game against West, it’s a city rivalry. It’s nice to have those types of games against them and to keep that rivalry going, we always have close matches against them and it’s because there is city pride at stake, it’s not just another number in the win column.”
The Bolts improved to 5-3 on the season with the win while the Falcons fell to 6-2.
After taking home consecutive Division II titles in 2016 and 2017, the Bolts made the jump up to Division I last season, where they fell in the quarterfinal round of the playoffs.
East hopes to return to the postseason and to take things one step further, even though it features a young roster.
“It’s a mix, we have a lot of veteran girls but they’re all still young. There are a couple of girls that were on the team and had playing spots. Lauren Milani, Ella Glantz, this is their third year on the team and they have come up big for us, but they’re only juniors. We have a lot of veterans but our team is still relatively young,” said McGonagle.
Although McGonagle was happy to see her club come out victorious, she also believes that the close match highlighted some areas of needed improvement for the Bolts.
“West is a great team; they beat us pretty good in some sets and we beat them. I think that it shows that we have a lot to work on, we need to stay consistent, maybe we are letting too many points go by without really focusing on the final outcome,” said McGonagle, who believes that finishing will be the key moving forward for the Bolts. “We’re working on our mental game right now … we just need to put all the pieces together. We’ve got to have mental toughness and we need to see games through to the end. Even some of the better teams that we’ve faced like North Kingstown and South Kingstown, we held the lead against them but lost focus and ended up losing. We just need to (hold onto) those leads and to stay focused until the end.”