SOUTH KINGSTOWN — Nothing changed in North Kingstown’s approach heading into Monday’s matchup of unbeaten girls volleyball teams.
And nothing changed in the results.
The Skippers showed they’re still a notch above the rest of the state with a 3-0 sweep of a South Kingstown squad that was hoping to give the two-time defending champions a challenge.
“Same stuff – just working hard every day,” North Kingstown head coach Brian Garrepy said. “I think it was good for them because they’re all friends. This group, a lot of them play club together. It’s an opportunity for them to have the high school component, that pride component every time we play down here. It’s a bigger family than just the two high schools, which makes it special. Proud of the way they came out and executed tonight.”
North Kingstown won 25-15, 25-15 and 25-8, pulling away in each of the first two sets and surging to the finish when the Rebels faltered in the third. The Skippers are 10-0 and have not lost a set this season. Their match win streak is up to 50, a mark that dates back to the 2017 season.
The Rebels entered at 9-0, but just like La Salle – another contender with hopes of challenging the Skippers – they couldn’t keep up. The takeaway is that they can play much better when the teams meet again later in the regular season and potentially in the playoffs.
“I didn’t really expect to win but I thought we would show up,” head coach Jackie Elmer said. “We really didn’t get any offense going. That’s the part that’s disappointing.”
The Rebels won the first two points of the opening set but the Skippers answered with six straight points and led the rest of the way. It remained close early until Keri Spitler stepped to the service line. With her team ahead 9-5, she served up seven consecutive aces that blew the game open. By the time her run ended with a serve into the net, North Kingstown led 17-6.
“That just doesn’t happen often,” Garrepy said. “I’ve been privy to see that once on the guys’ level in college and it’s like, ‘What do you do to stop it?’”
South Kingstown came back with a strong run of its own, powered by a Chloe Greene kill, a Carly Tomlinson block and aces by Natalia Maccarone, which made it 17-13.
“They came back with a run, too,” Garrepy said. “Kudos to them from that service line, too, making it tough for us to pass.”
But the Rebels would score just two more points. A pair of aces by Lauryn Mattiuci and a kill by Ava Mattiucci made it 21-13. Kills by Haley Sawyer, Ava Mattiucci and Brooke Bolster finished off the win.
The second set remained close for longer. The Rebels led 9-6 before a run of five straight points by the Skippers. Kills by Greene and Hannah Brock brought South Kingstown back to even at 12-12.
From there, the Skippers caught fire. Two kills by Spitler sparked a run of four straight points. After errors gave the Rebels two points, a kill by Cadia Greene and an ace by Spitler powered another run of four straight. A hitting error gave South Kingstown its final point before the Skippers finished with five straight, clinching the win on a Greene kill.
“It started slow,” Garrepy said of the second set. “They missed three, we missed two in the first three dropbacks on each side. You don’t get any rhythm. Then there was something with one of the line judges that stopped the game. It was almost like that stoppage, I don’t know what happened but from that point on, we took control of that set. We found Keri and Haley a handful of times, and Cadia came up big in that set.”
The loss seemed to take some fight out of the Rebels because game three was all North Kingstown. Spitler and Bolster had kills and Clara Oates landed an ace in a 5-1 start. Kills by Sawyer and Greene made it 10-3. And from 13-7, the Skippers won 12 of the final 13 points, highlighted by kills from Spitler and McKenzie Monroe that closed it out.
Spitler and Sawyer each had seven kills to lead the North Kingstown attack. Sawyer added 12 digs and Spitler had 10 aces.
The Rebels will get back to work after tasting defeat for the first time.
“We’ve got some things to work on,” Elmer said. “I thought we started to pass a little better once we got used to it. They have some girls who serve like we serve. We’re used to doing that to other people.”
The rivals will meet again Oct. 24 in the penultimate match of the regular season. By then, the Skippers hope to be peaking on their way to the postseason.
“It’s really all about our side of the court,” Garrepy said. “Trying to kick them out of the gym is tough. It’s about body preservation right now, too, and making sure their minds are set to play for another month. Because that’s where you start to grind. The volleyball part is pretty easy. We’ve got to execute on our side. If we execute on our side, we feel good about what we’re doing.”