May 13, 2021 – By NJP

NJP relaunched a little over two years ago after having a high school hockey website for almost a decade. In NJ hockey, we flourished during a time when Delbarton dominated the high school hockey landscape, much like Immaculate Heart has dominated the Girls volleyball scene in NJ over the past decade. For boys volleyball, Southern was the closest program that we related to that had the cache of a decade of continued success and the traditional team to beat every new high school year. We missed the Liam Maxwell days as well of some of the other major Ram stars over the years but were able to catch the end of the Matt Maxwell time period as well as the emergence of Justin Kean, the now D2 freshman at Belmont Abbey. We looked forward to seeing Justin dominate in his senior year, especially after watching him at many club tournaments on the East Coast. But his senior season was lost to the pandemic.

Now it’s his Bro’s turn to rise up and oil the well tuned Southern engine that continues to produce the very best high school teams that NJ has to offer. This year is no different. Southern held the #1 spot for a couple of weeks so far and have just the one loss to CBA that occurred this week. They now flaunt a 14-1 record and are still the best team in the South Regional and will stake its claim to a broader territory come state playoff time.

Lucas is just a sophomore but he has already made a major impact on the Rams in 2021. Lucas and Tommy Deakyne have been an of the best one-two punches at outside hitter in the state. Lucas is producing big numbers, is second on the team in kills with 76, and has paved the way already to enjoy even more success in his next years for the Rams. But for now, this Spring season is the focus and he can be the secret weapon that puts the Rams over the top for Sectionals and beyond.

Lucas is a bit ahead of his brothers impact as a sophomore. Justin smashed over 300 kills in his junior year so lets just say Lucas has a high potential. Lucas is still growing at 6’3″ and his frame is more slender than his brothers, but that will change in time. His mechanics are impeccable and even at his young age, he can generate a ton of velocity on his hits. He serves well and also has played setter during his club experience so his versatility will give the Rams an even higher impact. His versatility is driven by his high level of athleticsm which broadens out to other sports as well. He competes nationally at Watercross and his shore presence has him spending an abundance of time at the beach. But his passion for volleyball may drive him to an even higher level of accomplishment.

Here is our interview with Southern sophomore Lucas Kean…

Tell us a bit about yourself, Lucas?

My name is Lucas Kean and I am a sophomore at Southern Regional High School in Manahawkin. I am in the graduating class of 2023. I have one older brother who also played volleyball at Southern and currently plays at Belmont Abbey College in North Carolina. 

How long have you played volleyball and what inspired you to take up volleyball initially?

Growing up, I played baseball, basketball, and then played 2 years of football in middle school. In the spring of my 8th grade year, my school started a boys middle school volleyball program, so I decided to try out for the team. My brother initially inspired me to play volleyball. He  started playing volleyball his freshman year of high school and peppering together started to become what we did in our free time. After watching him play at the high school level, I knew that I also wanted to continue playing. 

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What are your metrics/details? Height, vertical, position, club team, etc. What’s your favorite position to play?

I am 6’2” and I have a vertical reach of 10’ 6”. I played setter in 8th grade and played in the setter position for my 17’s club team. When I was moved to the 18’s team for my club team SOVBC, my position was changed to outside hitter. 

Tell us about your Ram teammates. Who do you expect will be this year’s standout and up and coming players?

We have great players in every position. Tommy Deakyne is the strongest OH this year and his serve is difficult to return. Dylan Lockwood (Setter) runs the offense, setting us up for the best opportunities to win. Ethan Case (Libero) is a great defender and leader who takes control of the back row. Our middles, C.J. Schmidt, Keith Jeranek, and Matt Rekuc, always have a strong presence on the court. Opposites, Dan Wilgus and Jay Silva put up big blocks and take big swings. Nick Piserchia, Matt Leonard, Phil Gallina, Dylan Bates, Ryan Skodi, and Reece Otto all help contribute. Our entire team is always ready to come in when needed.

NJP considers you as one of the top players in the state, especially for your class year. Do you plan on playing in College? (If so, which ones are you looking at?) What do you plan to study in college or what is your career path?

I would like to play in college, but I do not know where I would like to attend at this time. I think I want to pursue a career in Business, but have not decided.

You have had a great start to the Spring season thus far, especially for a sophomore, with 56 kills in just 10 matches. What are your goals for this year’s high school season?

My goal this year is to get stronger and continue to improve everyday. I want to contribute to giving the seniors a great season by winning Shore Conference and a State Championship after all they missed out on last season. I also want to win the State Championship for my brother since he missed out on playing his senior year. I was looking forward to playing for Southern with him last year.

Tell us about how your brother Justin influenced your volleyball career.

I probably would have never played volleyball if it wasn’t for Justin. He pushed me this past year to workout with him and get ready for this season. We lifted at home during COVID and played volleyball every chance we had. We attended TNT together, a local gym, which helped me jump higher and get stronger. Justin has watched all my games this season while he was at college and always gives me pointers to make me a better player. 

Southern always has outstanding programs and are always competing for a state title. How does it feel to be the future emerging star that will be in the spotlight for the next two seasons?

I am excited for the rest of this season and the opportunity to be a part of a program that competes at the highest level in New Jersey every year.  Southern’s program is where it is because of our coaching staff. They get the best out of every player and set high standards for us. 

Tell us about your love for Watercross…

Watercross is something I do for fun and to stay in shape. I have been riding on a jet ski since I was 3 years old. In the summer, my family and I travel to different races in the Northeast so I can compete. The road trips to the races and the time we spend together is part of the fun. In the off season, my father, Justin, and I rebuild the skis for the upcoming season. 

Who is your support group?

My parents are the center of my support group. They never say no to driving me to the gym or to meet with my friends or teammates to play volleyball. They come to every one of my games and are honest about my performance. This makes me work even harder and want to improve.

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