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    Xie

    Preview: Westerly volleyball

    Head coach:

    Peter McCann (3rd season).

    Assistant coach:

    John Mihalko.

    Last year:

    The Bulldogs finished 7-13, losing to Classical in a Division II state play-in match, 3-2.

    Returning to varsity:

    Seniors:

    Kevin Paige (captain), Kurtis Rathbun (captain), Kenny Xie, Zheng Long. Juniors: Robert Alessio, Billy McCormick, Adam Ferrare, Andy Mui.

    New to varsity:

    Juniors:

    Mitchell Fish, Long Zou.

    Outlook:

    The Bulldogs showed tremendous improvement in McCann’s second season, upping their victory total to seven after posting just three wins in 2012 and one win in 2011. Westerly won four of its last five regular-season games to qualify for its first playoff action since the RIIL moved boys’ volleyball from the fall to the spring season in 2005.

    Xie returns as the team’s primary setter after earning Division II-South second- team honors. He surpassed the 500-assist total for the season.

    “Kenny had a fantastic season,” McCann said. “Having an experienced setter back definitely should helps us get off to a stronger start than we usually do. We came on strong last year, but are looking to build off of last year’s strong finish.”

    The Bulldogs lost Corey Allicchio, their top hitter, to graduation, but McCann is banking on Westerly featuring a strong blocking and defense unit with Rathburn, Paige, Ferrare and Mui all logging plenty of varsity playing time last year.

    “The blocking and defense led to a lot of second-chance points and I expect the same this year,” McCann said. “We play well together. Our defense allows us extend rallies and gets us motivated throughout a match. I expect our offense to be as strong as it was last year with Kenny at setter.”

    The realigned Division II-South places Westerly with Cranston West, West Warwick, last year’s division champs at 14-4, and East Greenwich toger. All four made the playoffs in 2013. Cranston West moves to the South from Division II-Central where it finished second with a 13-5 record.

    Coach’s take:

    “Making the states is a realistic goal. The division looks strong based on last year’s performances. But winning seven games, which will make the states, is achievable. The program is definitely on the upswing. The players have positive attitudes, and we should field a high-quality team.”



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