2013-05-16 / News

NK volleyball improves to 8-3

Garrett Bucklin playing dual roles for Skippers

North Kingstown junior Garrett Bucklin sets during a game against Pilgrim earlier this season. 
PHOTO BY ANDREA VON HOHENLEITEN North Kingstown junior Garrett Bucklin sets during a game against Pilgrim earlier this season. PHOTO BY ANDREA VON HOHENLEITEN The North Kingstown High boys’ volleyball team expects to make a run at the state title, ac­cording to Jamestown resident Garrett Bucklin, the Skippers’ ju­nior co-captain.

The Skippers improved to 8-3 in Division-I after a 3-1 win over Bishop Hendricken Tuesday. They have won four of their last five games, and are in third place in Division-I South behind undefeat­ed Coventry and 9-1 South Kings­town. There are five regular season matches remaining.

Coach Joanne Fitts said the team is almost entirely new this year. Only Garrett and a pair of seniors – Bobby Campbell and Andrew Kurdziel – returned from last year.

Earlier in the season, Garrett said the team was a little shaky be­cause they were not used to play­ing together.

“We have a lot of talent, but we don’t have a set lineup,” he said last month. “We’re still figuring things out.”

Since then, Garrett has settled into his new position and the boys are learning to play with one an­other.

Garrett has been the team’s lead­er in kills this season along with James O’Donnell of North Kings­town.

Both play up front, and Gar­rett said O’Donnell is a good out­side hitter, which complements his skills.

“I’m good at hitting around the opponents,” Garrett said.

According to Garrett, he focuses on placing the ball in spots the oth­er players can’t reach. He thinks the skill developed from playing in the sand at Easton’s Beach in Newport.

When players are participating in beach volleyball, he explained, they can’t jump as high as when they’re on a gym floor. Therefore, he says, they can’t hit the ball as hard. Winning points depends on good ball placement in beach vol­leyball, and Garrett has taken that strategy indoors.

“He’s a smart volleyball player,” said Laura Hosley, his mother.

Garrett said his strengths are mostly due to experience. He played in Italy and California, as well as locally at Easton’s Beach and the town beach in Narragan­sett.

“I’m fast,” he said. “I anticipate what’s going to happen.”

Garrett says he can see “where the sets are going to be and where the block is.”

The Skippers went to Bryant College last month for the Rhody Invitational and faced top teams from around the Northeast.

Talented teams showed up from Connecticut, Massachusetts and New Jersey. North Kingstown made it to the first playoff round but lost.

“We started off well,” he said. Garrett attributed the loss to the team’s own errors.

Garrett was named to the all- tournament team, but he resists the view that he’s the team’s star.

“Everyone contributes,” he said.

Aidan Murphy, a senior from North Kingstown, is the team’s other co-captain. Garrett, who was the setter last year, started the sea­son in his old role but has since switched over to hitting — he’s now playing both roles. He played the first two games at the setter position, then played some games exclusively up front, and now he’s filling in at both position.

He likes both roles but said his top priority is winning.

“I’ll do whatever brings wins,” he said.

Garrett, 16, is the only James­towner on the varsity squad, but islanders have a future on the team because three freshmen – Ted­dy Roberts, Rob Haberland and Giancarlo Varrechione – are play­ing on the junior varsity team.

But for now, Garrett is the face of Jamestown on the varsity squad. He thinks he’ll continue to be that face deep into the season.

“We’re looking to get into the playoffs,” he said. “I don’t think we’re worried about getting in.”

Traditionally, the Skippers have been one of the strong Division-I teams, but no school has a volley­ball dynasty. Two years ago, Bish­op Hendricken won the states, and last year, South Kingstown won. Garrett also thinks Coventry will be another other major contender in 2013.

North Kingstown has won four state titles, but none since 1997.

Garrett hopes to play college volleyball but figures his height will hold him back eventually.

“They have national teams, but I don’t think I’m going to be there,” he said. “Everyone there is like 6-foot-8.”

Garrett is 5-foot-10.

Meanwhile, Garrett is looking into schools with volleyball teams, but he is keeping an open mind since he is only a junior. He said he’s not going to choose a school based on its sports program.

Garrett said he is interested in general medicine and chiropractic health care, and will apply to col­leges with good pre-med and pre- chiropractic programs.

His favorite subject in school is physics. When he’s not play­ing volleyball, he likes to shoot baskets and hang out with his friends and girlfriend. He has joined the Varsity Athletes Against Substance Abuse. The students are preparing to speak to middle school youngsters about making healthy choices.

“I like the idea,” he said.

According to Garrett, learning to make good decisions has helped him stay focused and avoid in­juries, which is important for the Skippers, since he is usually the go-to guy for points. He led North Kingstown with 17 kills against Hendricken on May 14, 18 kills against Mount St. Charles on May 9, 16 kills against East Greenwich on May 2, and 24 kills against East Providence on April 30.

The Skippers were back in ac­tion last night against Chariho. Results were not available at press time. They host Pilgrim on Mon­day at 6:30 p.m.

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