Girls back to winning ways on court
Midway through the season, the North Kingstown volleyball squad is going all out to establish the Skippers as one of the state’s elite teams, according to head coach Victoria Tefft.
“We’re doing great,” said Tefft. “The kids are really working hard and we’ve got good talent.”
Doing great comes close to an understatement. The girls’ varsity team has amassed a 9-2 overall record, including 7-2 in league play. The Skippers only Division- I losses came to Coventry, the top team in the South, and to Classical, the top team in the North. (On Wednesday, the Skippers were scheduled to play Bay View, but results were not available for press time.)
North Kingstown still has a way to go before the playoffs start in November. The regular season ends Oct. 29, but at this point, the Skippers look like a team headed for a shot at the state title.
Two Jamestown athletes – Kristjana McCarthy and Kaylynn Cason – are contributing to the team’s success.
Kristjana, 17 and a senior, has moved over to the middle hitter position where she brings quickness and agility to the front line, Tefft said. “She’s doing great. She’s improved a lot. In the last couple of weeks she’s really come on strong.”
According to Kristjana, the girls are much improved over last year.
“We’ve developed a lot,” she said. “We’ve gotten to know each other very well on and off the court.”
Kaylynn, a transfer student who moved here recently from Georgia, plays the setter position and is one of the top scorers. She is 16 and a junior.
“She’s a great asset,” Tefft said. “To be one of the elite teams, you have to establish a presence in the front row in all positions. Kaylynn provides a lot of stability to our offense, and she’s a good leader.”
Kaylynn is the team’s second leading ace server. The coach said setters have to find a way to score, and Kaylynn brings the team a good serve and ball control.
Kaylynn, the daughter of Randy and Sadie Cason, played on her high school volleyball team in Georgia. She started playing volleyball because her stepmother plays and coaches.
“I started going to her practices,” Kaylynn said. Compared to her old team, the Skippers play better defense and smarter volleyball.
“Also, the coaching is a lot better,” she said.
Ally Barton of North Kingstown continues to be a star. She leads the team in kills.
“She’s just a really, really strong player for us,” said Tefft, adding that Barton is a stabilizer for the team because of her consistency.
Hope Kane, also from North Kingstown, leads the team in aces. She racked up 10 in the match against East Providence. She is one of the team captains. Another captain, Jodie Wadovick, is a key defender.
“We have a lot of balance this year,” Tefft said. “The younger players are coming along to fill in the gaps.”
Last year the Skippers finished the season 7-9 and lost in the first round of the playoffs. Tefft said her team had a tough draw, matching up against the top-seeded East Providence Townies. (The Townies ended up losing to Coventry in the finals.) Even though they lost, the Skippers went into the game determined to play their best and gained some valuable postseason experience. North Kingstown only lost two seniors from last year’s playoff team.
“We played [East Providence] and beat them this year,” said cocaptain Hailey Flavin, 17. “That’s the first time in a really long time.”
Tefft said she was “really happy” with the energy throughout the 2012 season, and now the girls are a stronger and more experienced team.
“These girls have put a lot of time into it,” she said. “We are better. Our summer physical training really helped because they did that as a team.”
Tefft said the season isn’t all about winning, though. “It’s important that they maintain the happy factor, which is easy to do. They’ve got good chemistry.”
“We’re all basically seniors and we have a big team,” said Hailey. The Skippers have 13 on the varsity roster.
Tefft couldn’t say which game so far has represented the team’s best performance.
“My job is to analyze and take everything apart,” she said. “I see the numbers and what they tell me at end of the match, I go by. I’m looking for fewer unforced errors and real aggressive serving.”