NORTH KINGSTOWN – Generally, there is no need for extra hype when any North Kingstown team squares off against South Kingstown.
This is what made it a bit of a surprise when a sluggish Skippers boys volleyball team took to their home court and fell to the Rebels 25-17, 23-25, 25-22, 25-21 Tuesday night.
“I was disappointed in how [my team] performed,” North coach Joanne Fitts said. “We just seemed to be one half step behind. I don’t understand that, so that’s my job between tonight and tomorrow.”
Slow starts and inconsistent play plagued North all night long. The Skippers scored the first point in each of the first two games but the norm for the evening had them playing catch up.
With the exception of its rally to close out a 25-23 win in game two, North never held a lead for consecutive points or after seven.
“We were consistent on never being able to put two points together,” Fitts remarked. “The fact we came back in the second
game was kind of nice, but you don’t come back from being four, five points down against a good team.
“That means you have to make five points in a row and we’ve been struggling to make two points in a row.”
To the Skippers credit, however, the team never lost their will to fight in their uphill battle.
North tightened the gaps South had opened up early in games time and time again – even if they were never able to take a lead – to the point Rebels coach Jackie Fagan felt lucky to head home with the win.
“Very pleased to come away with a win,” Fagan said. “[The Skippers] weren’t going away. They were doing everything they could possibly do”
Even though they kept the score in their favor much of the night, it was still somewhat of an off night for the Rebels.
Despite a 3-1 record coming in, Fagan tweaked her strategy leading up to the match with North in hopes of getting better play from her back row.
In hindsight, however, South’s coach feels as though some of her hoped improvements may have actually been to SK’s detriment.
“I moved around who I take out of the back row and I’m not sure I want to keep it that way,” Fagan said. “I was trying to make some adjustments and I think that kind of threw us off our game a little bit. If we did away with them, I think it would have been a quicker night.”
Strong play up the middle of the court – particularly from Kevin Delaney, who had 18 kills on the night – and sophomore setter Mike Gross were instrumental in helping the Rebels clear up any confusion they might have had in the back and assure themselves of a victory.
“We were really good on running the middle quick in transition, I don’t think they were prepared for that,” Fagan remarked. “To have that many kills from the middle is pretty exceptional.”
This battle was scored in favor of Fagan and the Rebels but the rivalry is not yet settled. Fitts and the Skippers have some time to bring consistency to the team before North and South Kingstown square off again in their regular season finales on May 30.