Sports

Wolves rebound from loss with five-set thriller

"Sometimes it takes a humiliating loss at home to make a team take a hard look in the mirror and find out its identity.There are still a lot of games to be played, but the South Kitsap High School volleyball team showed its resilience by pulling off a five-set victory against the formerly undefeated and highly touted Capital Cougars 7-15, 15-12, 15-13, 12-15, 15-10 in a Narrows League showdown Wednesday night in Olympia.The victory came on the heels of an error-prone loss at home Monday against Olympia, 14-16, 15-7, 15-11, 15-12.The victory has thrust SK (13-2 overall, 4-1 NL) into a second-place tie with Capital (10-1 overall, 4-1), while Olympia has slid into first place with a 5-0 record in the league.SK coach Mary Pugh said she credits better passing and defense for the win against Capital.The difference was our passing, Pugh said. Against Olympia we didn't have it. We had a different defense to cover tips better and take care of the line.Pugh said the changes came at the request of some players on the team.Though the Wolves have only two losses, players like Katie Ralph said the team was getting tired of getting burned on tips and kills down the line.But she attributed the loss to a lack of intensity as well.I think we ended up being a little bit scared because we knew Olympia was a good team, Ralph said. Obviously our passing in the back row wasn't very good and our intensity wasn't there. We didn't have the momentum we needed to win the match.The new defense was something the Puget Sound Club kids wanted to try, Pugh said. The club kids have done it but the other kids hadn't seen it much. The (club) kids said, 'How about trying this?' Pugh said she takes suggestions such as the change of defense, but would only try it if she believes it is going to work.In this case it did work and it's something she said the team will continue to work on for the rest of the season.The defense the Wolves had been playing was required the players to read the tips and lines.But the new defense puts the players in position to defend tips and lines, though Pugh said that obviously exploits the defense somewhere else on the floor.We're going to work on it some more, Pugh said of the new defense. Pugh said the passing game was like night and day between the Olympia and Capital matches.Against Olympia setters Erin and Stephanie Olsen were constantly playing out of position running down balls.This kept hitters Rachelle Cooper and Ralph from attacking. Instead, the Wolves were relegated to giving the Bears free balls, which they took full advantage of.After two games - despite winning the first game - SK had only 10 kills.Cooper, a first-team all-league selection last year and Narrows League MVP candidate this year, had a measly three kills and Ralph had only four kills.The back row was finally in tune with their setters in the third game, with Cooper nailing seven kills.But the Bears exploited SK's inability to defend the lines to run away with the win.Cooper finished with a hard-fought 14 kills and Ralph had eight.The adjustments made for the Capital game clearly helped.Erin and Stephanie Olsen combined for 65 assists and had 11 and 10 kills respectively. Cooper led the Wolves with 23 kills and seven digs followed by Ralph's 22 kills and seven digs.Missy Quam had three aces and was 30-31 serving.Pugh also said outside hitter Ashley Foster scored some key kills that either kept or swayed the momentum.She also credited Andrea Edwards with steady play in the back row. "

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