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All it takes is one look at the South Kingstown girls volleyball team to tell that theyâ€™re in store for a better season this fall.
Last year the Rebels struggled â€“ mightily at times â€“ en route to a 3-13 record but with a team loaded with size and athleticism SK should be in store for a bounce back season.
â€śI think weâ€™re going to be pretty good,â€ť SK coach Chris Fagan says. â€śHopefully.â€ť
â€śCoventryâ€™s going to be tough again and I think we should be right in the mix just seeing from who graduated last year. Middle of the pack, hopefully the upper pack.â€ť
Thereâ€™s no doubt that that the Oakers are the early favorites to win their third straight Division I Championship this fall with players like middle hitter Sam Higgins and outside hitter Jill Ward back for another go around.
South still has a long way to go to get to where Coventry is but one thing the Rebels certainly have going for them is theyâ€™ll have the type of block capable of neutralizing the stateâ€™s better hitters.
â€śWeâ€™ve got taller people, weâ€™ve got taller outside hitters and weâ€™ve got a pretty good blocking team in my opinion but weâ€™ll see,â€ť Fagan says.
â€śThe twins [Kristin and Jackie Karpowicz] are blocking pretty good. Theyâ€™re the best blockers right now along with Steph [Laraway] but Iâ€™m moving her to outside hitter. Last year she was more of a middle hitter.â€ť
Between seniors Mariclaire Gulla, Olivia Finnegan, Laraway and the Karpowicz twins the Rebels have five varsity ready players each close to 6-feet tall or greater and Fagan is not ready to rule out the possibility of playing them all together in a five-one rotation.
â€śWeâ€™re running a five-one right now with Emily [Taylor setting] and sheâ€™s kind of short but she can actually hit pretty good too,â€ť Fagan says. â€śIt looks like weâ€™ll have a big front row always except one rotation.â€ť
Of course itâ€™s still extremely early in the season and the Rebelsâ€™ lineup is very much open to change but on paper SK should find itself in the top half of the division at seasonâ€™s end and certainly better than 3-13.
If South Kingstown is going to bump up into the category of contender, however, it is going to have to get better in the passing game.
â€śOur weakest part of our team is probably going to be passing,â€ť Fagan says, â€śso weâ€™re going to work on that.â€ť
The Rebels could have a team full of 7-footers but if they canâ€™t serve-receive consistently they wonâ€™t be going anywhere this season.
At this point in the season though, there is still plenty of time to get better and SK wonâ€™t have to wait long to see how far off it truly is.
The Rebels will face off against Prout â€“ last seasonâ€™s regular season Division I-South champ â€“ Friday at 6:30 p.m. in an Injury Fund game and will open the season at home Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. against the aforementioned Oakers.