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Thunderbolts Pick Up Where They Left Off to Start Playoff Run

Juniors Charles Pincince (left) and Caleb Xum (right) helped lead Cranston East to a 3-0 victory over East Greenwich in the Division I Quarterfinals


Throughout senior year, my busy schedule often doesn’t allow me the time to provide the proper written coverage that Cranston East Athletics deserve. On this May 31st however, the stars aligned and I found myself at the spur of the moment typing out an article on my phone. Electricity is what many first associate with thunderbolts, and there is no team that has embodied electricity this school year more than the boys’ volleyball team.

The Thunderbolts are enjoying their winningest season since their undefeated 2017 D-II championship run. The ‘Bolts entered the postseason following a 17-3 regular season, good for the #2 seed in the D-I playoff field. The season was highlighted by a 9-match win streak after a shaky start to their year, followed by another 7-match win streak to close out their regular season. In this 2024 season, 11 of their 15 league wins were sweeps. As a result, even just a set loss for the Thunderbolts has felt like a disappointment.

Only North Kingstown has been able to beat the ‘Bolts in both of their regular season matchups. The Skippers hold the #1 seed for the fourth year in a row and are looking to solidify their dynasty status. Their program finished the regular season at 17-1 after winning two D-I championships in the past three seasons. Cranston East’s last potential chance to beat the only team they’ve yet to take down would come on the biggest stage with a potential first ever D-I championship looming.

The Thunderbolts faced off against the #7 seeded East Greenwich Avengers for the quarterfinals round of the Division-I playoff tournament. The Avengers finished their season at 6-12, but when it came to their matchups against Cranston East, the teams were a clear mismatch. In two sweeps, there was not any single set that truly seemed like Cranston East ever had a chance of losing. The case was the same in this playoff atmosphere, as the Thunderbolts easily advanced to the semifinals.

Cranston East was simply the better prepared, better connected, and better coached team. That’s no knock on East Greenwich, either. Coach Jhamal Diggs had just been named one half of the prestigious, first-ever, TSM Coaches of the Year earlier that day. All of this was on display by the Thunderbolts in a dominant first set. 

The ‘Bolts came out of the gate with their best, leading off with a 25-8 set win. The first set, which ended up being their best of the evening, was highlighted by some high flying offense and assertive defensive plays. The set was capped off by an emphatic spike from Charles Pincince that was closer to going through the floor than being stopped by the East Greenwich defense.

Cranston East followed up with a tighter second set where they pulled away late to take a two-set lead, winning 25-19. The Thunderbolts were neck and neck with the Avengers until the score reached 12-11 in their favor. From there, the ‘Bolts took their first multi-point lead of the set and never looked back

The sweep was completed for the third time this season against the Avengers, once again by double-digit margins. The 25-15 set win officially sent them to the next round of the playoffs.

Cranston East’s constant success this season is a testament to their teamwork. It shows on the stat sheet as well where a multitude of Thunderbolts made a significant impact in their win against East Greenwich:

Caleb Xum led the team with 23 assists, and Carlos Lora led the team in scoring with 13 kills. Defensively, Kaden Ricard recorded 5 blocks while Larry Yin recorded 20 digs. TSM’s Boys Volleyball Athlete of the Year, Charles Pincince, finished with a well rounded 6 kills, 13 digs, and 1 ace.

With their win, the ‘Bolts will gear up to face off against the La Salle Rams for a June 5th matchup at The Murray Center on the campus of Rhode Island College. The teams traded sweeps against one another in the regular season, and figures to be an exciting matchup standing between the ‘Bolts and playing for a championship.

To keep up on all things regarding Thunderbolt sports, go to  and @tbsportsmedia on Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok. Be sure to check out Thunderbolt Sports Talk, a podcast from TSM’s Charlie Adams and Tim Yean. Link on and on Spotify.

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