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Volleyball: Opening week of league play tough on Wolves
GIG HARBOR — South Kitsap proved it could handle nonleague competition as it went undefeated in September.
But the first week of Class 4A Narrows League play did not go as well as the Wolves lost 25-14, 25-17, 20-25, 25-17 on Wednesday at Gig Harbor. That followed South’s 15-25, 25-20, 25-20, 25-19 setback Monday against Central Kitsap.
Those losses put the Wolves (5-2 overall, 0-2 league) in a difficult position as there only are five league contests remaining. Only the top four teams in 4A Narrows advance to the West Central District Tournament at the end of the month.
“The Narrows League is a tough league,” South coach Jessica Anderson said. “We play Gig Harbor, Bellarmine, Olympia — and CK goes to districts every year. It’s not an easy league to be in.”
The Tides (6-3, 1-1) never trailed during either of the first two games. South trailed by nine and six points, respectively, by the time Gig Harbor reached 20 points in both of those games.
“We weren’t able to keep up with the faster pace of their game,” Anderson said. “Our blocks weren’t fast enough. Our defense was decent, but it wasn’t fast enough. We need to increase our speed.”
It appeared that the Wolves might be swept, but Anderson said the Tides inserted their second unit during the third game. Despite that, Gig Harbor took an early lead on a pair of serving errors by South. But the Wolves recovered to take a 4-3 lead and never trailed again. The Tides closed the deficit to 14-13, but senior middle blocker Maile Keanu scored a kill to end the threat. Keanu finished with six kills and four blocks.
South, which was led by junior outside hitter Toni Brown-Bell’s 16 kills, seemed to carry that momentum into the fourth game when it quickly took a 2-0 lead. But the Tides responded with a 10-2 run and led by as many as 12 points.
The beginning was different, the result was the same Monday when Brown-Bell had 16 kills, while senior outside hitter Sarah Lacey and junior libero Casey Deese combined for 40 digs against the Cougars. But after dominating the first game, Anderson said her team made too many mistakes to defeat CK.
“We forced a lot of errors,” Anderson said. “Probably the most key element of that game was our serves. We had 13 missed serves over the entire game. When you talk about momentum in volleyball — and rally scoring — that shift is huge. Had we made half to 75 percent of those serves, it probably would’ve been a very different match.”
Despite that, Anderson said she is proud of the improvement her team has displayed this season. The Wolves finished last year with a 3-9 record.
“I’m proud of this team,” Anderson said. “We’re leaps beyond where we were last year.”
She said that playing speed will be an emphasis during practice before the Wolves play Tuesday against Mount Tahoma. South remains at home Thursday against Olympia, which has finished no lower than seventh in the last three 4A state tournaments.
“If we’re going to compete with the higher-level teams in the Narrows League, we have to be able to have faster hits and faster digs,” Anderson said.
She noted this year’s team has strong chemistry and that she does not anticipate this week’s losses to affect the Wolves’ confidence.
“We own up to our mistakes, but we don’t dwell on them,” Anderson said. “We kind of move onto the next thing and celebrate the positives.”
Gig Harbor d. South Kitsap 25-14, 25-17, 20-25, 25-17
South Kitsap-Sarah Lacey 7 kills, 15 digs; Toni Brown-Bell 16 kills; Megan Murnane 8 kills, 3 blocks; Maile Keanu 6 kills, 4 blocks; Danielle Chu 15 digs, 3 blocks; Casey Deese 18 digs; Tia Arrowsmith 33 assists.
Central Kitsap d. South Kitsap 15-25, 25-20, 25-20, 25-19
South Kitsap-Toni Brown-Bells 16 kills, 3 blocks; Sarah Lacey 21 digs; Casey Deese 19 digs; Tia Arrowsmith 32 assists, 3 aces.