Sports

Volleyball preview: Wolves have youthful foundation on which to build

Schedule

Date Opponent Time

Tuesday Olympic 6 p.m.

Thursday Foss 6 p.m.

Sept. 11 Sundome Tournament (Yakima) All day

Sept. 16 Wilson 6 p.m.

Oct. 2 Yelm Tournament All day

Oct. 4 at Central Kitsap 6:30 p.m.

Oct. 6 Gig Harbor 6 p.m.

Oct. 12 at Mount Tahoma 4:45 p.m.

Oct. 14 at Olympia 6:30 p.m.

Oct. 18 at Shelton 6:30 p.m.

Oct. 19 North Kitsap 7 p.m.

Oct. 20 at Stadium 4:45 p.m.

Oct. 25 Bellarmine Prep 6 p.m.

Oct. 28 Narrows League Tournament* TBD

Oct. 30 Narrows League Tournament* TBD

* Matches at Mount Tahoma High School

Coach: Jessica Anderson, seventh season.

Key returners: MB Maile Keanu, jr.; OH Sarah Lacey, jr.

Key departures: MB Mallory Horch, graduated; OH Ashley King, graduated; OH Karinne Nelson, graduated; S Brittany Stepper, graduated.

Top newcomers: MB Toni Bell, so; L Casey Deese, so.

By CHRIS CHANCELLOR

Sports Editor

High turnouts among sophomores seem to be a trend at South Kitsap this fall.

Take volleyball for example.

Coach Jessica Anderson has 14 sophomores alone. Anderson, who is entering her seventh season with the Wolves, was not in the school district when the levy failed a decade ago. But she said her peers have surmised that participation rates finally have recovered throughout the school.

Whatever the explanation, Anderson is excited to have a core group of players around which to develop the program.

“As I look at the sophomore class put together, these are girls that love volleyball,” she said. “They’re coming out here with smiles on their faces. It feels good to see this humongous class come in and ready to go.”

South’s sophomore class actually outnumbers its juniors and seniors — combined. Setter Shelby Jackson is the team’s only senior.

“She’s a good one to have back,” Anderson said. “We’re going to expect some leadership out of her.”

The Wolves graduated middle blocker Mallory Horch, outside hitters Ashley King and Karinne Nelson and setter Brittany Stepper off a team that finished with a 5-12 record and was 4-8 in Narrows League play.

But even with its inexperience, South might benefit from the Narrows League’s new setup. The Wolves have a month before they play a league match Oct. 4 at Central Kitsap. In addition to Tuesday’s season opener against Olympic, they have crossover matches against two Class 3A Narrows schools — Foss and Wilson — and a couple of invitational tournaments. One of those is the annual Sundome Invitational on Sept. 11 in Yakima.

“It gets bigger and bigger every year,” Anderson said. “They get to be exposed to a lot of different teams. It’s kind of around-the-clock volleyball.”

She also took her team to Washington State University during the summer for camp. In addition to skill development, Anderson felt the trip was important to help her young team develop chemistry.

“Going all the way across the state gives them some bonding time,” she said. “There is something about packing everyone up, going on a car trip across the state and staying at the college.”

Another bonding session might come late in the season when the Wolves host North Kitsap on Oct. 19. Both teams and their schools’ athletic-medicine programs have joined to collect money for DiG PiNK, which raises awareness and funds to fight breast cancer. In addition to the outcome on the court, the schools are competing to see which can raise more money for the event.

North and South will wear uniforms with a combination of pink, and the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association allows the schools to use a pink volleyball for that match. Admission to the match, which usually is free, will cost $5 with proceeds donated to DiG PiNK.

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