Volleyball: South Kitsap gymnasium filled with pink

It is not uncommon to see the South Kitsap gymnasium filled with fans donning maroon and yellow.

But on Tuesday night, more than 1,000 spectators were clad in pink.

That is because the Wolves hosted their DiG PiNK volleyball match for a second consecutive year to raise awareness and funds to fight breast cancer.

“When I look around the gym on the night of DiG PiNK, I feel proud of my team — adults and students — who have worked for months to put this event together,” said South coach Jessica Anderson, adding that her father traveled from Alaska to attend. “Volleyball at SK isn’t a sport that draws a large crowd, but, on DiG PiNK the school and community comes together in efforts to raise money for a worthy and important cause. And, this cause, it’s bigger than any individual.”

South senior setter Shelby Jackson eagerly has anticipated the event.

“Ever since the last day of school, I have been looking forward to this day,” she said. “Just to be on this court with everyone wearing pink — pink everyone — with all these people supporting us is great. I’m glad we did it again this year and I hope South keeps doing it.”

The players auctioned off their pink uniforms after the match. Junior Tonya Forster, who had nine digs and six kills, was the first to sell one. Forster said the match was motivational as her grandmother has battled breast cancer.

“I know that I am fighting for her,” she said.

On the court, North Kitsap defeated the Wolves 25-16, 25-19, 14-25 and 26-24 in the nonleague match. South was led by sophomore middle blocker Toni Brown-Bell, who had two aces, three blocks and 13 digs. Junior Sarah Lacey also added two blocks, 12 digs and eight kills.

The Wolves (3-6) trailed by at least nine points in each of the first two games before closing the deficit. Anderson said some of those struggles might have been the result of playing in front of a large crowd.

“I think when they first got out there, they were nervous,” she said. “There’s an auction going on. The crowd is going wild. They’re not used to it.”

Jackson agreed.

“Sometimes it’s nerve-racking to see all those people,” she said. “You’re thinking about not screwing up for them. It’s not like the regular games.”

Because the sophomores on the team played at the junior highs last year and some of the juniors were on varsity while others were not, Forster said the players had to develop chemistry.

“I feel like we’re coming together as a team,” she said. “We’re learning each other’s strengths and weaknesses. I feel like we’re meshing well.”

It showed at times as South recovered to dominate the third game. The Wolves also controlled much of the fourth game before North recovered to tie it at 19-all. After the Vikings took a 24-21, South again rallied to tie. But North scored on a couple of errors to win the match.

“It was like we had this power going through us,” Jackson said. “I think it shows them what we can do. We’re not going to quit. We’re going to make you earn your points.”

Anderson praised her team’s determination after their rough start, but she said the Wolves need to maintain their confidence and learn how to finish off opponents consistently.

After Wednesday’s match at Stadium, South closes out its regular season at 6 p.m. Monday against Bellarmine Prep.

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