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EXETER - It will be an uphill battle this season if the Exeter/West Greenwich boys volleyball team hopes to repeat their success from last spring, but that is not letting them have anything but positive aspirations for 2013.
â€śWeâ€™re off to a rough start,â€ť says EWG coach Jan McMahon-Boisclair,â€ť â€śbut weâ€™re hoping to make playoffs.â€ť
After finishing last yearâ€™s regular season third in Division II-South with an 11-5 record, the Knights moved up to Division I.
The loss of key players from last yearâ€™s team, having a smaller roster and the smallest population amongst all Division I schools to draw from, however, has not stopped EWG from taking the challenge of tougher competition head on.
Unfortunately, the Knights have not yet been able to find their rhythm this spring.
They opened their season with a loss against reigning Division I champion South Kingstown (25-10, 25-17, 25-22) and did not fair much better in their second match of the season, winning just one game against Chariho (25-14, 25-16, 14-25, 25-15).
McMahon-Boisclair was looking for her squad to start to turn the season around in the teamâ€™s third match on Tuesday night against Pilgrim, who also played in Division II last season.
â€śWeâ€™re hoping we can handle ourselves well against Pilgrim,â€ť says the EWG coach, sighting the familiarity with the team. â€śIt
should be a pretty decent match.â€ť
The downward trend continued for EWG, however, as they fell to the last yearâ€™s Division II champion, dropping all three games 25-20, 25-12, 25-21.
Not only are numbers an issue for this yearâ€™s EWG squad but the team will also have to overcome a lack of experience throughout the season.
Outside of the teamâ€™s seniors â€“ Josh Crompton, Mitch McGrane, Jack Boisclair and John Philpot â€“ the rest of Knights are newer to the game, putting a lot of pressure on the upperclassmen.
â€ś[The] only ones that are experienced are the four seniors,â€ť McMahon-Boisclair says. â€śItâ€™s going to be tough. Weâ€™re going to have to rely on them.â€ť
Not only will the Knightsâ€™ senior class be expected to help carry the team as it battles through the spring, another part of their mission will be to help the coach develop the less experienced players in hopes of getting the entire roster up to speed as the season rolls along.
â€śRight now weâ€™re trying to teach the younger players the game. Thatâ€™s going to take a lot of teamwork,â€ť McMahon-Boisclair says. â€śThe other players are really working on not only their own position, but also coach. Teamwork and communication are going to be huge.â€ť
The task may be tall, but the coach is confident her team is up for it.
All in due time, as the season rolls along, McMahon-Boisclair feels improvement will come for the team as they get used to playing together and used to playing at the more competitive Division I level.
â€śBy the end of the season, after weâ€™ve gotten some experience for the younger players, weâ€™re hoping to start taking more games,â€ť she says. â€śIf we can make the playoffs, that would be awesome.â€ť
The Knights will get their chance to rebound right away with just one day off between Pilgrim and their next match, as they travel to North Kingstown to take on the Skippers today at 6:30 p.m.