NORTH KINGSTOWN — The definition of a scare changes when you’ve lost only one set since the start of the 2019 season.
Almost dropping a set qualifies, and the North Kingstown High School girls volleyball team responded well to that situation on Tuesday night.
The Skippers won the first two sets against Mount St. Charles before finding themselves down 20-18 in the third set. They would have had opportunity for a recovery if they had dropped the set, but ultimately didn’t need it, scoring the final seven points of the game to seal a 3-0 sweep.
“I just told them I liked the way they finished,” head coach Brian Garrepy said. “The scoreboard looked tight. There was no panic. We didn’t take a timeout. We just needed to be a little crisper with what we were doing.”
The Skippers won 25-12, 25-14 and 25-20 to move to 5-0 on the season. It’s been business as usual for the three-time defending champions.
“I feel great about the season so far,” senior outside hitter Cadia Greene said. “This team has so much depth. It’s always a really good team effort. It feels like we’re all working together.”
The Mounties entered Tuesday’s match with a 3-1 record, their only loss coming to a La Salle team that may be North Kingstown’s top challenger. The Skippers greeted them with three kills in the first four points of the opening set, two by Greene and one by Lauryn Mattiucci. After the Mounties worked back to 9-7, the Skippers took six of the next eight points to regain full control, a stretch capped by Brooke Bolster and Ava Mattiucci kills. Three kills by Greene late in the game kept the lead intact and Halle Berwitz served up an ace to help secure the 25-12 win.
Three consecutive aces by Ava Mattiucci put the Skippers ahead 6-4 in the second set and they stayed in front throughout. Kills by Abigail Ryno and Noelle Tegan powered a strong finish, with North Kingstown winning eight of the final 10 points.
“We’re trying little by little to do something better each night that we get a chance to play,” Garrepy said. “That’s been the focus from day one.”
The trouble in the third set began early as Mount St. Charles built an 8-2 lead. Two kills by Josie Gustavson and an ace by Julia Caruolo helped get the early comeback started, but it was touch-and-go for most of the set. After a kill by Cassidy Cole tied the score at 18-18, two errors put the Mounties in front.
Cole followed with a kill and the Mounties failed to return Ryno’s serve, which tied the game at 20-20. Cole and Ava Mattiucci teamed up for a block, and a hit by Caruolo wasn’t returned. Ryno served up an ace to make it 23-20. A dig by Lauryn Mattiucci found the floor on the other side of the net for match-point, and a hitting error on the Mounties locked up the win for the Skippers.
“We’ve always had confidence in ourselves,” Greene said. “When we get down, we know we can pick each other up and keep plugging along.”
As always, depth helps the cause. The Skippers are flashing perhaps the best combination of quantity and quality they’ve had in their rise to dominance. They’re also newly back to full strength after middle blockers McKenzie Monroe and Brooke Bolster missed the early part of the season.
“Every player got meaningful minutes and did some good things,” Garrepy said. “We love the practice sessions. We get to grind one another out and it’s awesome. When we get out here, the support from whoever’s on the bench is awesome. Everyone is super engaged in the match, probably moreso than ever before.”
South Kingstown is set to come to town tonight. Last year, the Rebels were the only team to take a set from the Skippers.