The Bishop Hendricken volleyball team isn’t used to being in this position, but with a team much more inexperienced than in recent memory, the Hawks don’t really have a choice.
They’re just trying to build as they go.
Hendricken lost its third straight match to open the season on Tuesday, falling 3-0 to East Providence. The Hawks hung tough in game one before falling 25-23, and then wore down in the next two games on their way to 25-17 and 25-19 losses.
They’ve also lost 3-1 to La Salle and 3-0 to Mount. For a team that is almost always in the state championship hunt, it’s an adjustment. Hendricken is one of four winless teams in Division I.
“It’s a learning stage that we’re in right now,” said head coach Mike Harrington. “But at the same time our focus needs to be to put a tough-minded product on the floor. That needs to be our goal.”
The season became a little more difficult early on. Donny Baker, who was a standout last year as a freshman, was deemed ineligible and junior Ira Lough, a tall net player who was going to take on a larger role this season, was forced into street clothes because of injuries to his wrists from basketball season. Another player, Brennan Martin, decided to leave the team to focus full-time on soccer, putting the Hawks in a short-handed spot.
“We’re on fumes almost,” Harrington said. “But we’ve got juniors out there that need these reps and need to start competing and getting better. We need to maximize every opportunity to be in these matches.”
Hendricken got the match against East Providence started well enough, as it gave the Townies all they could handle early on. The Hawks led 23-21 on a tip over the East Providence block by Mason Cote. But the Townies got a big kill from standout Lucas Flavin and Hendricken was called for a violation on the next point to tie the score.
Knotted at 23, the Hawks were whistled for a double hit and then East Providence’s Marlin DaCruz served up an ace to end the game.
“At times I think we look really good and we support each other,” Harrington said. “Other times, one error might lead to another error and things can spiral out of control a little bit.”
The second game was close early, but a slew of Hawks’ errors hurt their cause and Flavin – who finished the night with 13 kills and was a presence at the net the entire way – began to take over.
With Hendricken leading 6-4, a service error, three hitting errors, a carry and a double hit put East Providence up 10-6. Then over the next nine points, Flavin had five kills and the Townies jumped ahead 17-8.
“That guy has been around,” Harrington said of Flavin. “He’s a senior, a four-year varsity player for EP. He was good. They set him all three positions – left, middle and right. He was great.”
Hendricken never got closer than five the rest of the way. It also continued to shoot itself in the foot, with three service errors late in the game. It made six serving errors overall in game two.
“We missed three of the last four tries,” Harrington said. “That’s just silly. There’s not too much I can say to the kids.”
The third game wasn’t much better overall, as Hendricken took an early 3-2 lead before East Providence grabbed control at 5-4 and never gave it up.
At 6-4, Nate Gyampo had a kill to get the Hawks within one, but they never got that close again. East Providence scored eight of the next 10 points to go up 14-7.
“That’s part of my job this year – to get these kids thinking about getting better and improving their own games,” Harrington said.
Hendricken played better down the stretch, getting as close as three points at 19-16 and 20-17, but East Providence had an answer every time. First, Chris Hermanowski had a kill and the second time Flavin put down a kill, giving the Townies breathing room again.
Soon afterwards, the ball landed on Hendricken’s side after a miscommunication, giving East Providence the sweep.
Cote led the way for the Hawks with six kills, while Gyampo and Dan Flaherty each had three. Garfield Coustard and Jacob Eland had two apiece.
The Hawks’ schedule doesn’t get much easier in the world of Division I, as it travels to 2-1 Cranston East today at 6:30 p.m.
At the very least, it will be another chance to improve.
“Their ceilings are still a lot higher than they are now,” Harrington said. “Hopefully by the end we feel a lot more confident about ourselves and the product looks a lot better too.”