Scott Van Duyne, left, returns on right side for powerful...

Scott Van Duyne, left, returns on right side for powerful St. Anthony’s. Credit: James A. Escher

CHSAA

Last year, St. Anthony's boys volleyball team took hold of the CHSAA and never loosened its grip.

It won its second straight conference title with ease, going 17-0 and sweeping St. John the Baptist in the finals.

With all but one starter returning, the Friars are expected to make it three straight.

"They have the fire," coach Donna Newman said. "They want to get the title back."

Setter Lee Vasilakos is the only Friars starter not to return from last year's championship team. Matt Safranek will slide into Vasilakos' spot.

Scott Van Duyne returns on the right side, outside hitter Andrew Melon will provide the power and fourth-year starter Anthony Bilello is a consistent force at libero.

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This returning varsity group sharpened its game during competitive summer and fall club seasons.

"It plays in our favor because the kids are so comfortable with each other," Newman said. "They are all ready to go."

The competition for the Friars begins with St. John the Baptist and Chaminade, both of whom lost multiple talent from 2010. Kellenberg is an upstart program that might be a year away from serious contention.

But St. Anthony's already has the championship experience, and if Safranek adequately can replace Vasilakos, then the Friars likely will hoist the hardware for the third consecutive season.

Newman, acutely aware of her competition, attempted to keep expectations in check.

"I try to put things in perspective to them," she said. "I always like being the underdogs as opposed to having the bull's-eye on our back."

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