WOONSOCKET — Mount St. Charles head coach Josh D’Abate expected his crew to come out firing on all cylinders against visiting South Kingstown on Tuesday night.
After all, the Rebels had entered the important clash at 9-1, their lone loss occurring against Division I-South leader Coventry in only the third tilt of the season. He anticipated his Mounties, leading the North section, to want to prove its wherewithal against one of Rhode Island’s best.
In the end, however, South Kingstown took control early, utilized senior outside hitter Ryan Casci’s match-high 15 kills and eventually seized a 3-1 triumph over Mount inside its own gymnasium.
With the victory (by scores of 25-23, 25-13, 12-25, 25-15), the Rebels improved to 10-1 in I-South, while the Mounties fell to 8-3.
“I don’t think we played particularly well,” D’Abate stated afterward. “I honestly thought we walked onto the court afraid to play them. They knew South Kingstown was 9-1, and I thought they had looked at the standings and thought it’d be a tough matchup.
“They just didn’t play our game,” he added. “In Game 3, we came out and played with better control and, maybe, a chip on our shoulder. I know they’re proud to wear their jerseys and to represent our school.
“We passed well in that game, we had better ball control, limited our mistakes and the hitters did their jobs. But Games 1, 2 and 4, with the exception of Chris Gerber, didn’t do the job (assistant coach) Paul (Gould) excepted them to do.”
Outside of Casci’s contribution, fellow senior Kevin Delaney issued 13 kills and eight blocks, sophomore Michael Gross 35 assists and six blocks and junior Tyler Stafford nine kills for the Rebels.
Casci, Delaney and Stafford are three of the visitors’ four captains.
As for MSC, Gerber pounded 23 kills and registered three caroms, while classmate Ryan Durand managed 27 assists and an ace in the losing effort.
SK jumped out to a 10-4 cushion in the initial game, but the Mounties fought back to tie three times; at 20-20, Delaney’s spike went long, and – at 22-22 – Casci’s wallop did the same. That gave D’Abate’s bunch a 23-22 lead.
But the Rebels answered with three straight points, with officials calling a Mount player in the net to tie it, and server Stafford forcing a pair of defensive miscues.
In Game 2, the Rebels slowly pulled away after a couple of deadlocks; they led 18-13, and Gross took advantage of a kill by Stafford, a Delaney block and two unforced errors to gain a 24-13 lead.
Gross finished it off after a Mount spike attempt flew just wide.
MSC immediately rallied, grabbing a 3-0 cushion in the third before SK fought back to tie it up at 9-9 for the fifth time, though Durand manufactured five straight points on his service, and a Gerber spike gave his squad a 22-10 lead. A Casci kill pulled it back to 23-11, but Gerber’s powerful kill made it 2-1 in games for the Mounties, who took it, 25-12.
Following six ties in the fourth and final set, the last at 11-all, SK slowly pulled away. Senior quad-captain Scott Campbell produced four straight points with his service to make it 16-11, and – after the Mounties sliced it to 16-12 on Gerber’s drill – Casci served three straight points.
When Gerber’s serve sailed into the net, the Rebels gained a 22-15 advantage, and Delaney mustered three consecutive points, the last on a soft ace for the 25-15 triumph.
“My best server wasn’t even here; that’s Jack Vaccaro,” noted head coach Jackie Fagan. “I have four sophomores who play regularly, and three who start, so we’re really young. The thing that impressed me most was the fact we stayed calm.
“We lost a game because we let them get to us, and that’s because there were some questionable calls,” she added. “We got caught up in the emotion, and – as the coach – I take blame for that.
“Our lone loss came to Coventry, though that was early on in the season. We switched to a 5-1 offense, and that was our first match after we made it. Since then, we’ve become better. Now we’ve won nine straight, so we’re on a streak, I guess.”