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WOOD RIVER JCT.â€”Good luck to the six girls volleyball teams stuck competing in Division I-South this season because theyâ€™re going to need it.
As expected, Coventry appears to again be the team to beat after getting off to a hot start with two straight three-set victories over South and North Kingstown, but the Oakers donâ€™t look like the same team that flat out blew everyone out of the water at seasonâ€™s end last fall.
Prout looks to have taken a step back but is still very competitive, Chariho will once again be tough and NK and SK have greatly improved from last season.
Even Toll Gate â€“ who was winless a season ago â€“ seems to have gotten better, meaning the race to make the playoffs in D-I South should be a good one as it unfolds this season.
Monday nightâ€™s contest between the Rebels and Chargers certainly did little to dissuade that assertion as SK emerged with a very narrow 21-25, 25-20, 25-23, 25-23 victory.
â€śEveryone played a little better but weâ€™re still missing too many serves,â€ť SK coach Chris Fagan said. â€śWeâ€™ve got a good blocking team so we need to just put the ball on their court and just block.â€ť
After the Chargers took the opening game the Rebels bounced back in the second and appeared on their way to an easy win with a 24-17 advantage.
Chariho rallied though, rattling off three straight points before a Kristin Karpowicz block ended the surge to knot the match at one game apiece.
South carried its momentum into the third, building a lead of 11-5 before Chariho slowly worked its way back into it and taking its first lead at 16-15.
The Chargers pushed their advantage to 21-18 and even led 22-20 before the Rebels made a comeback to tie the game at 22-all.
The two teams then traded points before the Rebels abruptly ended the game, taking a 24-23 lead after Katie Gannonâ€™s serve sailed long and Kayleigh Clauson ended it with an ace.
The Chargers appeared to be reeling to start the fourth â€“ going down 5-0 after a series of communication errors â€“ but snapped out of their funk as three Rhiannon Wilson kills highlighted a 6-1 run from Chariho to tie the game.
â€śSheâ€™s kind of deceiving because sheâ€™s got a small stature but she takes advantage of the technical things that sheâ€™s learned,â€ť Chariho coach Doug Bliven said of Wilson. â€śIn the past sheâ€™d bring that heater one after another but sheâ€™s starting to develop a game where she knows where to mix in some off-speed shots.â€ť
From that point forward neither squad opened up a lead greater than three points but it was the Rebels that found themselves ahead 24-22 in the gameâ€™s waning moments.
The Chargers got one back when Mariclaire Gullaâ€™s swing found the net but could not hang on as Olivia Finnegan ended it for SK by pounding the ball off Charihoâ€™s block for the match-winner.
â€śWe made some strides in executing some complicated schemes that weâ€™re trying to do and I think the things that kept us back in the match are the simple things we kind of overlooked at times,â€ť Bliven said.
â€śâ€¦Itâ€™s encouraging to know that theyâ€™re quick fixes but weâ€™ just didnâ€™t have them this match.â€ť
The Rebels (1-1 D-I South) will be back in action today at 6:30 p.m. when they travel for a showdown with rival North Kingstown.