SOUTH KINGSTOWN — With a big matchup looming next Monday, the South Kingstown High School girls volleyball team keeps doing its part to make its showdown with North Kingstown even bigger.
The Rebels swept Coventry 25-17, 25-15 and 29-27 on Monday night to push its record to 8-0. With one more win this week and continued perfection from the Skippers, the rivalry meeting will be a battle of unbeaten teams.
“We’re so excited,” said junior outside hitter Chloe Greene. “It’s going to be a great match. We’re hoping to do well against them and maybe win.”
The South County squads have emerged as the top two teams in Division I and the only two that are unbeaten at this point. La Salle, at 7-2 with losses to both, is closest.
While it’s no surprise to see the two-time defending state champion Skippers at the top of the standings, it’s new territory for the Rebels, who have been trending up in recent years but have been outside the upper echelon. They’ve continued the climb this year, winning consistently and passing their toughest tests with five-set victories over La Salle and Cranston West.
“We’re consistent,” head coach Jackie Elmer said. “We have six good players out there.”
On Monday, the Rebels built an early lead in game one and held off a late push by the Oakers. Hannah Brock landed an ace for the clinching point in the 25-17 win.
Coventry led 6-4 in game two but a kill by Carly Tomlinson and four aces by Natalia Maccarone keyed a run of eight straight points. Three more aces by Greene powered a 5-0 burst that pushed South Kingstown’s lead to 17-8. A strong finish followed, with kills by Greene and Tomlinson sparking a run of five straight to end the set.
“We’re just really trying to think about other teams and how we can beat them - passing, just pushing through to the end of games,” Greene said. “That’s really important for us.”
Game three was more of a grind, with the Rebels never quite pulling away. A scoring discrepancy helped the Oakers midway through the set. Later, they staved off two match points. The Rebels ultimately came back from a 26-25 deficit to win four of the final five points. Brock and Maccarone had kills, Ellie Little delivered an ace and Coventry failed to return a tough serve by Brock on the final point.
“I thought we played great until that last game,” Elmer said. “The scoring mishap kind of screwed us up a little bit, but they should be able to handle it better than they did. And then our passing, we didn’t pass well. We were over-passing.”
Greene tallied 11 kills and Brock had 10 to pace the attack. Serving continues to be the team’s biggest strength, with Greene and Maccarone tallying five aces each and Little getting four. The only downside of strong serving is a tendency to relax.
“I think we’re probably one of the better serving teams. You see them shanking the returns – everyone has done that against us once we get our serves going,” Elmer said. “Sometimes, we kind of just get relaxed on the rest of our game. Then when they do bring the ball back, we’re almost surprised. Not surprised, but something like that - we’re just not as sharp.”
So far, that hasn’t cost them, but the matchup with North Kingstown will be a different animal.
“The real test will be NK,” Elmer said. “If everybody plays well, I think we’ll give them a game.”