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South Kitsap hopes experience results in net gains | Volleyball preview
The Wolves expect to be better this season.
But how much that is reflected in the Class 4A Narrows League standings remains to be seen.
That is the challenge of playing in a league with Bellarmine Prep, which has advanced to state in eight of the last 10 seasons, and defending 4A state champion Olympia. While Gig Harbor and Stadium missed state last year, both qualified in 2010.
And two teams South Kitsap seemed to defeat with regularity — Mount Tahoma and Shelton — have moved to 3A Narrows.
That does not mean the Wolves are intimidated. Rather, they know the challenges in front of them when they open league play at 4:45 p.m. Tuesday at Stadium.
"The competition is going to be great," South coach Jessica Olsen said. "There won't be any easy games."
Despite that, she said she is excited about returning a veteran-laden squad that features six seniors. One of them, three-year varsity outside hitter Toni Brown-Bell, said the players' familiarity with each other has buoyed team chemistry.
"It looks like we're coming together really well," she said. "It helps that most of us have played together in the past."
Classmate Megan Murnane, a middle blocker, agreed.
"It feels like we already know each other and have bonded," she said. "We're cohesive and have passion.
"We have a lot of potential this year."
South has finished with a 2-5 record in league play in each of the last two seasons, but Brown-Bell thinks the Wolves' experience will be beneficial.
"There are teams we know we will be more competitive with and some that are more challenging," she said. "We are mentally preparing ourselves."
In preparation for the season, the Wolves participated in team camp at Washington State University. They also opened their season with a match Thursday at Sequim, which advanced to the 2A state tournament twice in the last four years, and are scheduled to compete Saturday in the Bethel Tournament. Olsen said the goal was to see a lot of different competition before league play begins.
Murnane and Olson both said they already have seen strides with South's offensive consistency. But Olsen said one area will need to improve if the Wolves hope to contend for a playoff spot.
"I would like to see us pick up our defense against big hitters," she said.
Bellarmine, which is among the teams that feature that talent, will be the Wolves' opponent Oct. 18 for their DiG PiNK volleyball match to raise awareness and funds to fight breast cancer. When South last held that event two years ago against Stadium, more than 1,000 spectators were clad in pink.
"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," Olsen said after that match. "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."