PROVIDENCE – The East Greenwich boys volleyball team has had an unbelievable run through Division II. Last season, they were undefeated state champions, taking home the program’s third title in clean sweep over Cranston East.
This year, they were nearly just as dominant. They only lost once in the regular season – to Cranston West – and, with the help of a first-round bye, qualified for the state finals for the second consecutive season.
It was the first time since Division II was founded in 1996 that EG has made it all the way to the finals. Unfortunately for them, their finals opponent was the one team that seemed to have all the right answers against them: the Cranston West Falcons.
The Falcons didn’t fully replicate EG’s feat from last season, as they sported a single regular season league loss to Pilgrim. Regardless, in Monday’s championship tilt, the Falcons swept the Avengers, 3-0 (25-15, 25-18, 25-13).
The hard outside hitting of Garrett Doidge and Nicholas Estrella was simply too much for the EG defense to handle. They stuck around in Games 1 and 2 thanks to some strong play at the net by Will Jackson, Mason Minghella and Chris Rivera, but wore down as the emotional match played out.
Both schools brought large and loud student sections that gave the championship match an undeniable energy. EG students had to be warned about banging pots and pans together before the first serve had even gone up.
The Avengers worked out an early 3-2 lead that helped work the crowd up into an even bigger frenzy. Little did they know, it would be EG’s latest lead in any of the three games. Spurts by the Falcons were offset by well-placed timeouts that led to EG runs, but there was nothing to be done to permanently stem the tide.
Game 2 was tied 7-7 before West opened up a sizable lead. Game 3 was their most dominant showing. They scored eight consecutive points to go up 14-3, and coasted to their second D-II title in the past four seasons.
The first meeting of the two teams was closer, a 3-1 win for the Falcons. Against all other Division II opponents, the Avengers went 15-0. They had eight 3-0 sweeps in the regular season and one in the playoffs.
Rivera – a senior – had a standout campaign for his team. He led a small group of four seniors to help EG win a total of 31 regular season games in two seasons. Sophomore Andrew Plympton and junior Chris Teng were also key contributors.