WOONSOCKET --- Mount St. Charles Academy turned in its worst performance of the year on Wednesday night, but luckily for the Mounties, they didn’t pay for it in the win column.
East Providence High, which is fielding one of its youngest teams in recent memory, did its best to take advantage of the Mounties’ poor play and bus out of Woonsocket with an upset win. But the Mounties did just enough to claim this Division I matchup by a 3-1 score.
Senior hitters Matt Boni and Pat McCarthy teamed up to belt 29 kills at the net for the Mounties, who put away the Townies by scores of 20-25, 25-21, 25-17, and 25-22 to seize their sixth match in a row.
The victory also raised the Mounties’ record to 9-1 and kept them a half game behind defending state champion Bishop Hendricken High (9-0) in the standings, but the hosts’ performance to get that ‘W’ did little to please head coach Josh D’Abate.
“From start to finish, tonight was an ugly night,” D’Abate offered. “I thought we played without any energy, without any focus … lackadaisical. We didn’t play like a team that wants to win a championship, that’s for sure. We played like a team that was just going through the motions -- season’s over, let’s finish up.”
The Townies, who have just three seniors on their 12-man roster, fell to 2-8. They came into the night with 3-0 defeats in their last three matches, but clearly played like a team that was hungry for victory, something that wasn’t lost upon D’Abate in his post-match thoughts.
“We got a win, but did we get a win because we were better than them tonight?” D’Abate asked. “No, we just scored a couple of extra points. (E.P.) was probably the better team tonight. They outhustled us, they outserved us, and they wanted it more than we did. We shouldn’t have won tonight’s game.”
The best game of the night may have been the fourth one because it featured eight lead changes and a strong finish by the Mounties, who erased a 20-18 deficit by scoring seven of the last nine points. Boni, who finished his fine night with 17 kills, delivered three of them during this run.
McCarthy, meanwhile, turned in the play of the night with a kick save on a ball that was going out of bounds and heading toward the bleachers. The ball not only sailed back into play, but it went over the net.
“Honestly, as long as I’ve been coaching, that’s the first time that’s actually worked and went into play,” said D’Abate. “I’ve seen people try to kick the ball before, but not to bring it almost directly across the net and in play. That was pretty cool, maybe the highlight of the night.”
The Mounties also received a wonderful match from their setter, sophomore Ryan Durand, who handed out 40 assists. Joe Murphy (eight kills), Chris Gerber, and Dan Cahaly also contributed at the net, and libero Chris Dugas racked up 27 digs.
The Townies received a dozen kills and four blocks from Victor Adewusi, 23 assists from Jarrod DiCarlo, and some solid net play and a half dozen kills from Eric Towne.
While the Townies are back in action on Friday with a 6:30 p.m. match at home against La Salle Academy, the Mounties don’t return to action until next Monday when they hit the road to battle the lone team that beat them, third-place South Kingstown High (8-1).
The Mounties don’t play Hendricken until Monday, May 16, at the Hawks’ court. They will host the defending champs in their regular-season finale on Thursday, May 26.
“We have a lot of tough games coming up and we have a lot of work to do,” noted D’Abate. “If this is a team that expects to be there at the end, that wants to be a team that’s talked about in the final four, we have to give a better effort than tonight.”