The season has been understandably difficult so far for a Warwick Vets volleyball team in transition, but it’s getting better even if the results haven’t shown up in the win column just yet.
The ’Canes lost 3-0 on Thursday to West Warwick, a team that hopes to contend for a title. While the Wizards were more finely tuned, Vets wasn’t disappointed with its effort or its overall performance at certain points during the match.
With a first-year head coach and a slew of new players, it’s all part of the process.
“We’re definitely making progress,” Vets head coach Brendan Friel said. “We’re showing growth every time we step on the court. I feel like we’re maybe one or two weeks away from being a very competitive team.”
Vets dropped to 0-4 on the season in Division II-South, with West Warwick improving to 3-1.
The Wizards won the three games 25-15, 25-10 and 25-15. The second game was a struggle for the ’Canes, but the other two games highlighted their potential.
In game one, Vets took a 10-8 lead early on before losing steam and eventually bowing out.
“We play well, then we don’t, and we turn it on by the end, but by then it’s already kind of out of reach,” Friel said.
In the third game, West Warwick opened up an 8-2 lead before Vets started to fight its way back. It cut the score all the way to 10-6 after strong serving from Slawamir Hermanowski and solid defense all the way around.
“Offense will come,” Friel said. “It’s a matter of touch, and that’s matter of getting the touches in. Right now, we can’t expect to have a massive kill guy, because we don’t have that yet. In order to stay competitive, we’re going to have to defend, and we have to be ready to take their strengths out of play.”
West Warwick went on a 4-0 run to open up a 14-6 lead, as Jesse Lawrence picked up a kill and an ace, and Jeffrey Costa grabbed a kill as well.
Stopping those two – but Lawrence in particular – was the ’Canes’ most challenging task all night.
“I don’t think they had an answer for our serving or for Jesse on the right side,” West Warwick head coach Michael Shunney said.
Vets won the next three points, and started to effectively take away West Warwick’s middle hitting. Phanhsena Kajohnsac, Jacob McLinden and John Moore all got their hands on West Warwick kill attempts, forcing the Wizards to try their attack elsewhere.
“In game three, we really tried to but Vets shut down our middle attack,” Shunney said. “They did a pretty good job on that.”
The ’Canes kept the game fairly close for a little bit longer, getting the score to 18-12 before West Warwick finally pulled away. The Wizards grabbed three points in a row to go up 21-12, then finished things off with a kill from Lawrence.
That officially made it another loss, but it was still encouraging.
“We’re getting there,” Friel said. “I’ve got a lot of young guys, and a lot of guys who haven’t played before. We’re trying to get the feel of where we need to be on the court and trying not to hit that panic button when things start to slide out of control a little bit.”
It wasn’t the first time so far this season that the ’Canes have come away pleased with the way things are coming along. They lost a tough one to East Greenwich on April 5, falling 3-1 to a team that went to the D-II quarterfinals last year.
However, following that, Vets lost 3-0 to Exeter-West Greenwich last Tuesday in a match that had Friel disappointed with the effort.
Friel knows that if the ’Canes want to maximize what they can do on the court, they’ll need to play with energy every time out.
“The other day I was disappointed against Exeter-West Greenwich, because I felt like we lost some of that effort,” Friel said. “I don’t know if it was because we were very competitive with East Greenwich – a lot of guys thought we should have won that one – and we had a heart to heart with them yesterday about keeping that energy. I don’t mind if they lose the games, but I want to see that energy. I want to see that effort.”
Vets will need its best effort it wants to pick up its first win this week, as it will travel to 2-1 Scituate today for a 12:30 p.m. game, and then host 3-0 Cranston West on Thursday at 6 p.m.