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SOUTH KINGSTOWNâThe Chariho boys volleyball team has won just one of its four matches to begin the season but so far coach Doug Bliven is taking everything in stride.
âWe were down one of our starting middles this week. We had a guy with about a month of experience filling in for him [and] I thought he did a really nice job,â Bliven said. âItâs a tall task coming in here to play the defending champions to begin with but then being a man down, Iâm very pleased with how we played.â
The defending champs would be South Kingstown, who handed the Chargers a 25-15, 26-24, 25-17 defeat Tuesday.
The Rebels went ahead early in the first set, only to see Chariho battle back multiple times. The Chargers closed but never passed as SK tightened toward the end and took the initial set by 10 points.
The second set appeared more equally matched with both teams volleying back and forth in an indecisive tangle during the early portion.
The two teams were tied at 19 apiece in the second game before SK took a 24-20 advantage.
Chariho charged back with Zach Wilcox spiking the tying point to make it 24-all but the Rebels responded with two straight to close out the game.
That was the closest Chariho would come to taking one from the defending champs as SK won the third set 25-17.
âSeeing that we were a man down, if we come back and play them again, Iâm confident. Itâs something to build on,â said Bliven.
âWe canât get too down on ourselves. We want to be disappointed that we lost [Tuesday] but at the same time, we played this team well and weâre going to build on this.
âWhen we play teams that maybe arenât at SKâs caliber weâre going to be ready for them.â
Wilcox had seven kills, one ace and 10 digs for Chariho, while Zach Good, who was injured in 2012, impressed with five kills and 12 digs.
After years of success in Division I, the Chargers boyâs volleyball team has been in the D-I basement with a combined three wins and 28 losses (2-14 in 2013; 1-14 in 2012) over the last two seasons.
However, off-season rearrangement of the RIIL divisions has divided 2012âs single, nine-team Division I into two six-team leagues subdivisions.
Barrington, Pilgrim and Exeter/West Greenwich have moved up from D-II and Knights and Patriots will join the Chargers in D-I South.
After missing out on the postseason for the past two seasons Chariho should be in good shape to return to the playoffs.
Two seniors and a host of increasingly experienced group of juniors will account for the Chargersâ core.
They also have considerable size near the net, with returnees Robbie Toth (6-foot-4), Wilcox (6-4) and Stephen Philipp (5-11) along with Good (5-11).
âI like our chances, weâve had a tough couple games where weâve played â in my opinion â the best two teams in the state,â said Bliven. âNow that itâs a bigger division and weâre playing more opponents I think weâre going to match-up very well.
âWeâll see where we are at the end of the season but as far as what our talent looks like and what weâre capable of, us playing in June is definitely a goal for us.â