All it takes is one look at the South Kingstown girls volleyball team to tell that they’re in store for a better season this fall.
Last year the Rebels struggled – mightily at times – 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.
“I think we’re going to be pretty good,” SK coach Chris Fagan says. “Hopefully.”
“Coventry’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.”
There’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 they’ll have the type of block capable of neutralizing the state’s better hitters.
“We’ve got taller people, we’ve got taller outside hitters and we’ve got a pretty good blocking team in my opinion but we’ll see,” Fagan says.
“The twins [Kristin and Jackie Karpowicz] are blocking pretty good. They’re the best blockers right now along with Steph [Laraway] but I’m moving her to outside hitter. Last year she was more of a middle hitter.”
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.
“We’re running a five-one right now with Emily [Taylor setting] and she’s kind of short but she can actually hit pretty good too,” Fagan says. “It looks like we’ll have a big front row always except one rotation.”
Of course it’s still extremely early in the season and the Rebels’ lineup is very much open to change but on paper SK should find itself in the top half of the division at season’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.
“Our weakest part of our team is probably going to be passing,” Fagan says, “so we’re going to work on that.”
The Rebels could have a team full of 7-footers but if they can’t serve-receive consistently they won’t be going anywhere this season.
At this point in the season though, there is still plenty of time to get better and SK won’t have to wait long to see how far off it truly is.
The Rebels will face off against Prout – last season’s regular season Division I-South champ – 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.