Sports

New year, new philosophy for Wolves

The excitement is palpable at just about every school this time of year.

No matter what the sport is, or what kind of a tradition the program has, coaches and players speak with great confidence about how strong their team will be.

Despite finishing with a 7-10 record and losing five of their six matches in the Narrows League and West Central District tournaments last season, the South Kitsap volleyball team is optimistic about the season, which begins with a nonleague match Thursday at Olympic.

“I can tell from the end of last year that we’re a lot more scrappy than last year,” said Jessica Jordan, a senior outside hitter. “We really want it this year.”

Coach Jessica Anderson said the team’s makeup this season makes it impossible to compare with a year ago. The Wolves return just three varsity players — Jordan, Kirstie Cosgrove and Emily Sanford.

“It’s a lot different and I’ve had to change my philosophy,” she said. “With Erika Doremus, our offensive system was heavily focused on our ability to hit the ball over the net. She excelled at that.”

But Doremus, a 6-foot outside hitter, now is at Concordia University in Oregon, and the Wolves have little height.

“We still have a good vertical,” said Sanford, a senior outside hitter. “We can stand tall even though we’re not that tall.”

Still, Anderson said the team has focused its practices on effective passing and defense. That doesn’t mean the offense will be neglected, but “we’re tackling a problem a different way,” she said.

Sanford said practices have been a continuation of the advice and skills they learned during the summer at Washington State’s camp. Senior setter Cortney Echternach feels the team has the potential to execute what they’ve learned, but the Wolves need to avoid another negative stretch similar to the one they had at the end of last season.

“I think our offense just needs to keep up,” she said. “When we’re down, we tend to get a bit lackadaisical.”

Jordan said it’s the seniors’ job to set an example for the younger players when it comes to attitude. And she’s happy with what she sees from the newcomers.

“They know we want it so bad,” she said, referring to what would be South’s first state-playoff appearance since 2000. “They know if we get it this year, they’re going to want it even more next year.”

SCHEDULE

Sept. 11 at Eastlake, 7:30 p.m.

Sept. 20 at Stadium, 4:45 p.m.

Sept. 24 at Lincoln, 4:45 p.m.

Sept. 26 Gig Harbor, 6 p.m.

Oct. 2 at Central Kitsap, 6:30 p.m.

Oct. 6 Olympia, 6 p.m.

Oct. 9 at Mount Tahoma, 4:45 p.m.

Oct. 11 North Kitsap, 6 p.m.

Oct. 15 at Wilson, 4:45 p.m.

Oct. 17 Foss, 6 p.m.

Oct. 23 Bellarmine Prep, 6 p.m.

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