The Cranston East Thunderbolts fell 3-2 to the Bishop Hendricken Hawks in five sets during an electrifying Division I boys volleyball battle on Monday night at Cranston High School East.
Hendricken senior Zach Fraser topped the Hawks with 18 kills, including the game-winner, which handed the Hawks a key 20-18 victory in the decisive fifth set.
Nate Bowe, a junior, helped carry Hendricken with 48 assists, while senior Robert Petrarca was stout on defense with 18 digs. The Hawks also got 19 kills from sophomore Dylan McClung.
Heading the Bolts was senior captain Andrew Khvang, who recorded 20 kills, three aces, plus a dig, and Mason Paugh, also a senior, who added 22 assists, two kills, and two digs.
“That was a fun match,” East head coach Meg McGonagle said. “We definitely showed a lot of heart. The way the kids could come back from that, even in a match 5 against a team like Hendricken. That’s phenomenal. It gives me great hope for the rest of the season. And great confidence in these guys.”
In the opening set, the teams were tied at 23 when Khvang scored on serve, and put the Bolts up one. Next, East junior Noah Berg scored with a kill and gave the Bolts a 25-23 win of the first set.
The clubs were knotted at 22 in the second set before Hendricken tallied three straight points, two from Petrarca, and one from senior Jose Lamendola, while rolling to a 25-22 triumph and tying the match at one set apiece.
Midway through the third set, Hendricken took a 10-7 advantage when Bowe scored twice on serve before McClung added a spike.
Then, the Hawks upped their margin to 14-10 when Fraser, Petrarca, and Brian Wojtyna all recorded points.
East cut into the deficit when Paugh passed to Chea for a kill, which inched the Bolts within three.
Nonetheless, East squandered an opportunity after that when a service error pushed the Hendricken lead back up to four.
Shortly after that, the Hawks doubled their padding at 20-12 when Bowe and Wojtyna each assisted to McClung for a pair of thunderous spikes.
The Bolts crawled back and cut the deficit in half when Khvang slammed down an ace and got East within 23-19.
But then, McClung swatted down a spike and got the Hawks to game-point at 24-20.
Hendricken finished off the third set 25-20 when Bowe scored with a return, and the Hawks took a 2-1 edge in the match.
East took a 13-12 lead in the fourth set after Paugh passed to Chea for a kill.
Then, Khvang and Reyle Dineen earned back-to-back blocks and extended the Bolts advantage to 15-12.
East expanded its buffer to 20-15 when Chea earned a block on Cam Murray and then, Dineen scored twice on serve.
Lastly, Khvang rocketed a spike into the campfire and gave the Bolts a 25-21 in the fourth set, while tying the match at two, and forcing a critical fifth set up to 15.
Hendricken jumped out to an early 3-0 edge when Petrarca scored twice on serve and then, Lamendola placed a shot into the campfire.
Then, The Hawks moved the score to 6-3 after Fraser tallied with a return, plus an ace.
Hendricken got some help maintaining that margin when McClung fired a blast into the campfire and put the Hawks up 9-6.
Then, the Hawks extended their advantage to four when Fraser slipped a shot just out of the reach of East junior setter Matt Mellor and made it 11-7.
Moments later, Lamendola fired a spike past Khvang and then, Fraser blocked Chea and that gave the Hawks 13-8 cushion.
Next, the Hawks got to game-point at 14-9 after Chea endured a return error.
But just when it looked like they were done, East rallied for five straight points and deadlocked the set at 14.
That Bolts eruption started when Khvang socked down a spike and then, Dineen and Colin Miller scored with returns to inch East within 14-12.
After that, Hendricken was whistled for a foul and then, McClung put a return into the net, which knotted the score at 14.
That teams tied four more times after that before McClung put the Hawks on top 19-18 when he smashed a spike past Berg.
Finally, Fraser finished with the game-winning kill from the front row, which earned the Hawks a 20-18 victory of the set, and a 3-2 triumph of the match.
With the loss, East falls to 0-3 on the season.
It’s been an adjustment for the 2017 Division II champs, who have moved up a division this year.
“It’s Division I,” McGonagle said. “We don’t know our opponents going into them, so it’s a learning game. We’re learning that the games a lot faster than it was in Division II. So, we’ve got to pick up the pace a little bit and kind of get our volleyball smarts under control. And I think we’ll turn some of these games in the second half of the season.”
The Bolts play next at La Salle Academy on Friday at 6:30 p.m.