Rough start for SRA spikers

Rough start for SRA spikers

Boys’ volleyball team opens Div. II-North schedule by dropping road matches to Villa Novans, Kilties

WOONSOCKET – After coaching the St. Raphael Academy girls’ volleyball team last fall, Eric Silveira took over as the head coach of the boys’ team this spring, hoping to help the Saints turn around their fortunes after enduring a 2-14 season last year.

Unfortunately for Silveira and the Saints, they are off to a 0-2 start. Last Wednesday, they dropped a 3-2 defeat to a first-year Woonsocket squad, and the following night, they hit the road again, only to suffer a 3-0 loss to Mount Pleasant.

The Saints, who returned to Division II-North play on Tuesday night by facing North Smithfield in their home opener, have 11 players returning, and like the girls’ squad, are a junior heavy team, Silveira said. The Saints have only one senior, captain and setter Eric Martineau (pictured), and junior outside hitter Ben Dube is also a leader, the head coach added.

As for coaching the boys’ team, Silveira said he has a different approach when it comes to coaching boys, but overall, there hasn’t been much of a transition.

After about three weeks of practice, the Saints opened up their Division II season at Woonsocket, which had suffered a 3-0 defeat in its opener two nights earlier to Scituate, but wasn’t a team that Silveira or his team was going to take for granted.

“I treat every team the same, whether it’s its first year playing or that program’s been there for 25 years,” Silveira said. “I tell my guys to play hard, play aggressive, don’t take points off, focus, stay at our level of play, and don’t play down, and if anything, just play up to a level, if not better.”

It was a tough match against Woonsocket. The Saints came out with the win in the first set, 25-19, but in the second set, the Novans took over and won 25-20. The momentum continued for the Novans in the third set as they took a 25-13 win, but the Saints turned it around in the fourth to post a 25-22 victory and force a deciding set that saw Woonsocket win a thriller, 16-14.

“Our service was a little shaky,” Silveira admitted. “We haven’t gone too much over serve-receive, but it’s definitely our main focus going into our next practice and match. We have a couple new guys on the court still figuring things out.”

“In the first set, we had a lot of energy,” continued Silveira. “In the second and third sets, our energy was down, and (Woonsocket) kind of took the momentum. I told them in the fourth set, if they wanted to win the game, they had to play with energy and kind of play up and they won. And (in the fifth set), on four or five points, we made mistakes.”

Silveira highlighted three players that stood out in that match: Martineau, Dube, and junior middle hitter Shawn Hughes, who Silveira said served very well and had a couple of blocks.

Despite their rough start, the Saints’ goal this season, as it was for the girls’ squad last fall, is to make the playoffs, said Silveira.

“(The team) didn’t make the playoffs last year,” said Silveira, whose team will visit nearby Tolman in its next match on Thursday at 6:30 p.m. “They were (in the) bottom half of the entire division. I want to get them at least (into the) top half of the division and then make the playoffs. And I want these guys to get better this year, especially since we have a lot of guys returning next year.”