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Unbeaten N.K. tops MSC in duel of division leaders

May 1, 2014

Senior Elijah Tousignant, shown in action earlier in the season, and his Mount St. Charles teammates dipped to 6-4 in Division I-North play after suffering a 3-0 defeat to unbeaten North Kingstown in their showdown of division leaders. FILE PHOTO BY ERNEST A. BROWN

WOONSOCKET — This type of thing doesn’t happen often to – or at – Mount St. Charles.
Josh D’Abate’s varsity volleyball squad ran into a combination steamroller/race car in experienced North Kingstown High foe on Thursday night, and it suffered the consequences with a 3-1 loss.
The unbeaten Skippers played at the net with reckless abandon, blocked most of the Mounties’ kill tries, served well and bused away from the MSC gym with a most satisfying 25-20, 25-15, 25-11 Division I crossover sweep.
Senior outside hitter James O’Donnell paced the onslaught with a match-high 18 kills and six aces, while classmate/middle hitter Grant Lewandowski registered eight kills (on eight sets) and the caroms and fellow senior Garrett Bucklin 36 assists and three more blocks.
Senior co-captains Ben Shola (six kills) and Alex Quarella also made significant contributions as the Skippers improved to 9-0.
“You can’t hang your heads; you just have to regroup, go back to practice and try to get better,” stated D’Abate after his crew dropped to 6-4 in I-North. “We’re not mad, we’re not disappointed; we just have to improve. They were just better on this night.”
Senior Pat Bennett finished with 22 assists and three digs for the Mounties, while junior Chris Lepine recorded seven kills and three aces and classmate Steve Ward six kills and a block. Frosh Jared Tessier chipped in three digs.
Thanks to Shola’s five straight service points, with plenty of help from O’Donnell’s consecutive block and spike, North Kingstown jumped out to a 5-0 advantage in Game 1. And, after Tessier had been called in the net and O’Donnell drilled an ace, the Skippers gained an 11-3 lead.
MSC, however, roared back, finally tying it at 14-14 after a visiting hitter clipped the net. It did so via a couple of NK unforced errors, a Lepine ace and Tessier’s solid serving.
The Mounties knotted it four times after, the last time at 18-all when O’Donnell crushed a long serve. In the end, senior defensive specialist Connor Pyne served up three consecutive points to gain a 23-19 advantage, and – after Tessier’s ace attempt sailed wide – O’Donnell ripped a spike to end it at 25-20.
The middle game witnessed just two ties, both early on, and NK took the lead for good at 3-2 when Bennett’s service went awry. Donnell extended the lead to 8-4 with a pair of near aces, and Pyne had one of his own to make it 13-6.
An Owen Murphy kill stuck a pin into the visitors’ cushion (17-9), but the Skippers pulled away, most notably on a pair of stifling spikes and a carom from Quarella and a combo block by Lewandowski and Bucklin to end it at 25-15.
MSC was never in the final set, as Shola mustered four more points on his serve to make it 5-1, then chipped in another four as NK took a 19-8 cushion.
With the score 21-10, head coach Joanne Fitts’ bunch utilized kills from Shola and Bucklin, not to mention another combination block from Preston Lind and Quarella, to shut down the Mount.
“We were clicking on offense,” noted NK assistant Brian Hesford. “It was a good night for us. I don’t want to overstate it, I don’t want to understate it; just a good night.”
Stated D’Abate: “When we were down in that first game, we came back; that’s the level we’re capable of playing at all the time. We were controlling what we do best, playing our game. We can’t control the referees, or what the other team does. We can only play our style.
“What went wrong? I really can’t pinpoint it. We dug ourselves a hole in the first two, and sometimes when you dig that deep, you expend so much energy trying to come back, you don’t have enough to finish.
“The difference, I think, was their experience,” he added. “They’re loaded with seniors, and five of their six starters play together all year. They have a ton of floor time, and they know how to play together.”

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