In just their second season, Rebels win title

BY TIM MORRIS Staff Writer

Staff Writer

ERIC SUCAR staff Howell's Kevin Wilson (l) and Adam Feehan attempt to block a spike during a match at Colts Neck on Friday.ERIC SUCAR staff Howell’s Kevin Wilson (l) and Adam Feehan attempt to block a spike during a match at Colts Neck on Friday. It didn’t take very long for the Howell High School boys volleyball team to hang up its first championship banner.

Playing with a consistency not expected of a second-year team, the Rebels won the Shore Conference A North Division public schools title. Howell put the finishing touches on its championship last week when the Rebels beat Long Branch, 2-0, and improved to 11-4 overall.

“It’s very exciting,” Howell coach Jim Huebner said of the division title. “The kids worked very hard for it.

“We’re all [teams in A North] pretty even,” he added. “We felt we could do it if we played consistently against everyone. The kids played real well as a unit.”

The Rebels managed to do just that, and in two short years are champions.

Huebner spread the credit for the division title around. He cited the leadership of seniors Kevin Wilson and Michael Dominguez.

“They pulled everyone together,” he pointed out.

It was Wilson and Dominguez who saw to it that the team played in summer and winter leagues.

A second factor was Steve Sylvester evolving into a dominating force. The senior registered 105 kills in the team’s first 15 matches and his serving was just as powerful. He served up 53 aces.

The Rebels were unsure if they would have a go-to player when the season began, but Sylvester developed into that player, making the team more complete.

Sophomore Adam Feehan, probably the best all-around player on the team, had 67 blocks and 53 kills as the middle hitter.

Wilson, who plays opposite, was the top playmaker with 123 assists. He had 27 blocks. His fellow co-captain Dominguez, a setter, had 79 assists.

Junior Rob McClintock had 43 kills and 41 blocks at middle hitter.

First-year player Mike Krol, a senior, continued to improve with every match, becoming a fine counterpart at outside hitter to Sylvester.

Derek DiPasquale and Kenneth Saal, both opposites, round out the Rebel squad.

Sylvester had six kills and two blocks in the 25-17, 25-15 win over Long Branch, which clinched the division title. Feehan had six service points including two aces. He also had four kills, seven blocks and one assist. Wilson had nine assists to go with four service points and one ace.

Howell’s consistency enabled the Rebels to pull out the tight, three-set matches. One of the most important matches of the season was a 2-1 win over Manchester. Howell dropped the first set 22-25, but won the second 25-15 and outlasted the Hawks in the third set, 28-26. Slyvester had 11 service points, including four aces, and had 11 kills. Wilson came up with 14 assists, as well as one ace and four service points. He also came up with two kills, three blocks and two digs as he came up with his usual all-around game. DiPasquale had six kills four blocks and one dig in the victory.

Howell is assured of a trip to the state tournament that begins on Tuesday. With an 11-4 record, the Rebels would like to draw a home match for its opening game.

Yesterday was the deadline for teams to be .500 or better in order to qualify for the state tournament. Colts Neck (12-7) had clinched its spot, while Marlboro was trying to close out a second-half rally. The Mustangs had to dig themselves out of a 2-6 hole at the start of the season. After play last week, the Mustangs had pulled themselves up to .500 (9-9).