Sports

Upcoming matches will have playoff intensity

"It's still early in Narrows League play but the South Kitsap High School girls volleyball team is preparing as if playoff spots are on the line when it faces Narrows League foes Olympia and Capital this Monday and Wednesday.The Wolves (13-1 overall, 3-0 NL) have stayed within their practice schedule, but they took full advantage of having a bye on Thursday.The team split off into two groups and drove to Peninsula and Gig Harbor to watch Olympia and Capital play.The opportunity to scout two of the best teams in the Narrows League couldn't have come at a better time, SK coach Mary Pugh said.This hardly ever happens because we play when other teams play, Pugh said. They're tough teams but if we play our own game we'll be fine.Olympia and Capital advanced to the state tournament last year and lost some key contributors to graduation. But both teams are loaded with veteran leadership.The Wolves will get a taste of these teams, starting Monday at home against Olympia at 5 p.m. They will follow with a road contest at Capital (10-0 overall, 6-0 league) Wednesday at 5 p.m.Olympia is led by two senior outside hitters, Beth Riebli and Missy Evans. Middle blocker Maria Barnes, another senior, adds size to the front row.Returning SK varsity players are thankful Capital's Kara Bjorkland is playing at the University of Washington this year. The hard-hitting middle blocker punished SK with 20 kills last year at SK.Another player who dominated SK last year is senior middle blocker Meghan Evoy.Evoy and senior Emily Wofford pack a one-two punch at the net, along with senior setter Katie Zukowski, considered one of the top setters in the state.Her ability to distribute the ball to different spots on the court will put pressure on the Wolves blockers and back row players. Pugh said she's trying to stay low-key about the upcoming matches.They (Wolves players) are psyched up enough about it, Pugh said. I don't want to put a lot of pressure on them.Pugh said the key to SK's success has been its ability to keep opponents from finding a rhythm on offense.The Wolves' rhythm is predicated on the setting of sisters Erin and Stephanie Olsen.If senior Rachelle Cooper - a first-team all-Narrows selection last year - and junior Katie Ralph feed off of their setters, SK may finally earn the respect it's been looking for since the season started. "

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