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SOUTH KINGSTOWNâ€”For the South Kingstown boys volleyball team Mondayâ€™s 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.
â€śWe were up for that match big time,â€ť Fagan said of the meeting with Hendricken. â€śRyan [Casci] had probably the best match of his career. He played amazing.â€ť
â€śHonestly it was great,â€ť Casci said of the win. â€śWe didnâ€™t expect to go in there and win 3-0. We expected another tough matchâ€¦but we came out hard and got it done.â€ť
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.
â€śWe struggled a little trying to keep our intensity up,â€ť Fagan said. â€śWe had a really high game against Hendricken where we just played great.
â€śItâ€™s tough when you have a game like that to keep up the intensity but weâ€™re playing much better now than we were at the beginning of the year.â€ť
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 theyâ€™re playing like it this spring.
â€śKevinâ€™s better than he was at this time last year,â€ť Fagan said. â€śHe was up there at the end of the season but heâ€™s more confident in every aspect of the game. Heâ€™s playing the back row, which he wasnâ€™t last year, so serving, passing, defense and heâ€™s a leader too.â€ť
â€ś[Kevin] and I arenâ€™t on the same line anymore but weâ€™re starting to get all the new kids back into it,â€ť said Casci, who will play at Division III Ramapo College of New Jersey next year. â€śWeâ€™re starting to teach them how we played on the championship team and itâ€™s all starting to come together.
â€śBy the middle of the season I think weâ€™re going to be a really tough team to beat.â€ť
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 seasonâ€™s 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.
â€śHeâ€™s making some rookie mistakes,â€ť Fagan said of her sophomore setter, â€śbut every game heâ€™s making less of them.â€ť
Thursdayâ€™s 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.