NORTH KINGSTOWN, RI — As the old sports cliché goes: records and standings are thrown out the window when it comes to rivalry games. South Kingstown, one of the powers of Rhode Island Interscholastic League's Division 1 volleyball this season, came into the game at 3-1.
North Kingstown came in struggling at 2-3, losing two of their last three matches. The Rebels escaped the back and forth affair with a thrilling three sets to two victory. Set scores were 22-25, 25-21, 25-21, 23-25, 15-7.
Outside hitter Alyssa LeValley led the Rebel attack with 23 kills, 11 of which came in the third set. It's become an expected performance from the senior all-stater, but South coach Jackie Fagan attributed the crucial third set victory to the unexpected defensive efforts of senior Ollie Mattyasovsky.
“(Mattyasovsky) made some critical digs at a point, and that’s not her forte. They weren’t just up, they were right to target,” said Fagan.
LeValley imposed her will once again in the deciding set. Fagan started her captain in the front outside position to start the set, which allowed her three rotations followed by her turn behind the service line to try and get a lead. North had no answer for LeValley’s attacks, as her three kills and two aces gave South a comfortable 10-2 cushion to put the Skippers away.
North’s biggest offensive contribution came from senior Moira Crocker. Crocker led the Skippers with 17 kills for the match, five of which came in a first set win for NK. North coach Victoria Tefft utilized her star player in a variety of ways on both offense and defense as Crocker split her 17 kills between the outside and middle positions, as well as being the primary back row defensive player for NK.
The supporting cast of North Kingstown struggled to get in a groove throughout the match and, in the end, the Skippers could not quite make up for their errors at the net.
“I was pleased with the improvement. We’ve improved in every aspect,” said Tefft. “The fundamentals were there, we just have to finish.”
After the first, it looked like the Skippers were the team contending for a D-1 South crown. NK got out to a 10-3 lead and led wire to wire, withstanding a late SK rally to win 25-22.
“We were sluggish. I don’t know what it is, maybe it’s just the NK rivalry,” said Fagan. “We made a little comeback at the end of that game and played better after that.”
South Kingstown rallied in the second set after the Skippers got out to a 7-5 lead. Consecutive LeValley aces sparked an 11-4 run for the Rebels, but a Crocker kill and ace cut the deficit to just three. Mattyasovsky chimed in with a timely kill followed by a free ball error by North to tie the match at one set a piece.
The Rebels got off to a fast start again in the third, with another Mattyasovsky kill giving her team a 12-8 advantage. North setter Joanna Chatham continued to keep her team in the game, utilizing all five of her hitters all night, setting up Sydney Sabitoni and Yomaris Giboyeaux as part of a 5-0 run before Fagan was forced to use a timeout with NK up 13-12.
“That’s our team philosophy, keep (our hitters) in the game,” said Tefft. “If you don’t do that, you aren’t going to go anywhere in the playoffs.”
North built their lead up to 18-14, but a pair of LeValley kills were followed by consecutive North hitting errors to tie up the game. The game stayed tied to 20-20, but three errors from NK gave way to a Rebel ace to make give the Rebels a 2-1 lead.
The fourth set saw both squads start to fatigue, as the teams combined for 28 total errors. The Skippers were able to hold LeValley to three kills and come away with a narrow 25-23 win.
South Kingstown improves to 4-1 for the season, behind Prout and Coventry in the Southern Division. North Kingstown falls to 2-4.
Liberos Pip Hartnett (SK) and Sabitoni (NK) both played outstanding defense throughout the match…Both teams registered six kills a piece in the second set, but North had ten hitting errors…Anisah McGillivary had a match high 8 aces for South Kingstown.