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SOUTH KINGSTOWNâFor the South Kingstown boys volleyball team Mondayâs match against one-win Barrington had all the makings of a trap game.
The Rebels were coming off an emotional sweep of rival Hendricken â whom SK beat in five games last season to capture the 2012 RIIL Boys Volleyball Division I Championship â and have a match with one-loss East Providence looming Thursday at 6:30 p.m.
âWe were up for that match big time,â Fagan said of the meeting with Hendricken. âRyan [Casci] had probably the best match of his career. He played amazing.â
âHonestly it was great,â Casci said of the win. âWe didnât expect to go in there and win 3-0. We expected another tough matchâŠbut we came out hard and got it done.â
Thanks in large part to championship team holdovers Kevin Delaney and Casci that let down never came, as the Rebels handled the Eagles 25-16, 25-19, 25-16 at home Monday night.
âWe struggled a little trying to keep our intensity up,â Fagan said. âWe had a really high game against Hendricken where we just played great.
âItâs tough when you have a game like that to keep up the intensity but weâre playing much better now than we were at the beginning of the year.â
Aside from sophomore Jacob Barrett â who saw his first varsity action in the D-I Semifinals against Coventry last season â Delaney and Casci are the only returners who saw significant playing time last season and so far theyâre playing like it this spring.
âKevinâs better than he was at this time last year,â Fagan said. âHe was up there at the end of the season but heâs more confident in every aspect of the game. Heâs playing the back row, which he wasnât last year, so serving, passing, defense and heâs a leader too.â
â[Kevin] and I arenât on the same line anymore but weâre starting to get all the new kids back into it,â said Casci, who will play at Division III Ramapo College of New Jersey next year. âWeâre starting to teach them how we played on the championship team and itâs all starting to come together.
âBy the middle of the season I think weâre going to be a really tough team to beat.â
While the two seniors have led the way so far this season, what has been equally important to the Rebelsâ 6-1 start has been the development of their younger and less experienced players.
Juniors Tyler Stafford, Alex Mason and senior Scott Campbell have helped account for some significant losses from last seasonâs team, while sophomores Mike Gross, Jack Vaccaro and Barrett have shown they can contribute to the team right now.
Gross â who is the third Gross brother to play for Fagan â has had a particularly strong start to the season taking over at setter for Sam Mason.
âHeâs making some rookie mistakes,â Fagan said of her sophomore setter, âbut every game heâs making less of them.â
Thursdayâs 6:30 p.m. match with the Townies will wrap up the slate of games for the Rebels this week and next week SK will continue the crossover portion of its schedule with games against La Salle and Cranston East.