The Cranston East Thunderbolts swept the Johnston Panthers 3-0 (25-9, 25-5, 25-7) in boys’ volleyball on Monday night in Johnston.
East’s Reyle Dineen led the way eight kills and four aces, while Andrew Khvang had 10 kills and James Tang added 16 assists. Johnston’s Jamie Javier finished with four blocks and five kills.
This is Johnston’s first season with a boys’ volleyball team and they had a tough challenge against the defending champs.
“Today was a learning experience for the boys and for the coaches,” Panthers’ head coach Greta Lalli said. “We knew going into the game that this was a really strong team, so I just told the boys to just do better than what you did last point. And I was impressed with how aggressive, they were receiving the ball. We had great serves, but Cranston East is fantastic, and I think we fought to the end.”
East head coach Meg McGonagle liked what she saw out of her opponent.
“I thought that they were tremendous for the amount of time that they’ve been playing together,” McGonagle said. “You know, when our guys play together three or four years in a row that makes a difference. So, Johnston’s doing really well. I would have to say.”
The ‘Bolts jumped out to a 5-0 advantage in set one on an opening spike from Khvang followed by four straight points from Tang on serve.
Johnston scored its first points when East committed a return error and Jonathan Frein scored on serve, pulling the Panthers within 5-2.
Later in the first set, Tang passed to Jacob Glantz for a spike and extended the ‘Bolts edge to 10-5.
Moments later, East’s Dineen blocked Johnston’s Charlie DiMascio and Khvang followed that with a point from the frontline and put the Bolts up 14-7. Next, Tang assisted to Dineen for two points and Khvang for another point before Tang scored on serve and helped East to a 19-8 advantage.
Dineen closed the set scoring four points on serve and Khvang added a spike and gave the ‘Bolts a 25-9 win.
Johnston took an early 2-1 lead in the second set, when Javier blocked Glantz at the net. Nonetheless, East would answer with two straight points to take back the lead.
Midway through the second set, Tang scored nine straight times on serve and helped the ‘Bolts to a 17-4 cushion.
Javier finally stopped the bleeding for Johnston by scoring on a return, but that would only delay the inevitable. Because on the next play, East scored, and after that, Dineen closed the set with eight straight points, earning the ‘Bolts a 25-5 win.
East took a 2-0 lead in the third set after a serving error by Johnston’s DiMascio, and Dineen followed that with a rocket that shot past Javier.
Johnston’s Josh Buono countered with a spinning shot to get the Panthers on the board at 2-1.
Then, Khvang scored back-to-back points and Dineen scored on serve to provide East with some breathing room at 6-1.
The ‘Bolts kept their distance and later in the set, Matthew Mellor assisted to Nick Chea for a kill that put the ‘Bolts up 9-3.
After the Panthers scored a point to pull within 11-5, Khvang replied with a spike and then Nick Yau batted 13 straight points on serve and gave East game point at 24-6. Yau had a fault on his final serve and after that, Johnston’s DiMascio got a point on a return. Then, East ended the match when Dineen spiked down the final point and gave East the 25-7 victory.
Tang, East’s star setter, tallied eight assists each in sets one and two before McGonagle gave him the last set off.
“James did great,” McGonagle said. “He was our setter in the first two games. I switched it up and used some of our younger guys for the third and we ran a 6-2 kind of as a look to the future to see kind of what we would have for next year. We played mostly juniors in the third game.”
Cranston East lost to East Greenwich in five sets in its game prior to this one.
“That was a hard night, but the guys played well,” McGonagle said. “They fought really hard in that game.”
With the win against the Panthers, East improves to 3-1 while Johnston falls to 0-5.