The volleyball career of North Kingstown High School graduate Garrett Bucklin concluded Friday evening but not before it reached some new territory. Bucklin’s Rivier squad earned a trip to the Division III NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2014. The team bowed out in the first round with a five-set loss to Lancaster Bible.

It was a closely-fought match, with each set being decided by no more than four points, but in the end, the Quakers – buoyed by a 41-kill performance from Nate Miller – had a little more.

As for the former Skipper, he put the finishing touches on his time on the court with a 39-assist night along with a team-high 10 digs, but it wasn’t quite enough to prolong his career by at least one more match.

Prior to the exit, Bucklin was in a more celebratory mood the previous weekend when Rivier claimed the Great Northeast championship for the first time since 2014 by downing Wentworth in straight sets.

In the decider, the senior had all but three of his team’s 42 assists, while also chipping in with four digs and just as many blocks as the Raiders prevented the Leopards from pulling off a three-peat.

By virtue of his performance in the final and the semifinal in which he delivered with 37 assists and 16 digs in a four-set triumph over Emmanuel, Bucklin was named the Most Valuable Player of the GNAC tournament.

Days after the confetti was cleared, another honor was conferred onto the newly-minted MVP as he was selected to the Great Northeast’s all-conference first team alongside a pair of his Rivier teammates.

Bucklin picked up the nod after stringing together a campaign where he racked up more than 1,000 assists, while also compiling 162 digs, 61 blocks and 111 total attacks for the Raiders.

Ballinger battling for Wildcats

The Johnson & Wales baseball team is heading into the stretch run of its 2018 season, while South Kingstown graduate Rob Ballinger is rounding third and heading home himself with his collegiate career down to its last handful of games.

It has been a frustrating senior campaign for the ex-Rebel in terms of performance at the plate, as he has been batting at a .229 clip for the season, though he does lead the team in walks, stolen bases and runs. He also has found time to appear on the hill on three occasions this spring, including a 2.1 inning stint on April 7 in a 7-4 decision over Anna Maria in which he picked up a pair of strikeouts as the Wildcats outlasted the Amcats in 11 innings.

Oliver honored

North Kingstown’s Kiara Oliver earned the second Atlantic 10 Pitcher of the Week award of her young college career Monday. The UMass freshman posted a 0.79 ERA in 17.2 innings of work last week, beginning her slate with a seven-strikeout performance in relief against Boston College. The right-hander struck out eight, while allowing just two hits in a 5-1 game-two win over St. Bonaventure on Saturday afternoon before going on to strikeout seven batters in game three of the series.

On the season, Oliver continues to lead the Atlantic 10 in strikeouts with 129 to go along with a 14-3 record and an 8-0 mark in league play.

UMass is 14-0 in A-10 play.

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