Sports

Spikers state-tourney-bound for the first time

"The preseason goal of reaching the state tournament was accomplished by the South Kitsap High School volleyball team Friday night at the West Central District Tournament at Bethel High School.The Wolves nailed down their first-ever spot at state after sweeping Kelso, Decatur, and Kent-Meridian in pool play Friday.The Wolves returned Saturday to play for seeding, but only managed the No. 6 seed out of the district after going 1-2.Despite their inconsistent performance Saturday, the Wolves earned a trip across the mountains to the Spokane Arena for the two-day tournament Friday and Saturday.Just like the district tournament, the state tournament is a 16-team field divided into four pools.The top two teams in each pool advance to the elite eight Saturday, but the Wolves will have their work cut out for them, having drawn No. 1 state-ranked Mead, highly talented Bethel, and Woodinville.SK coach Mary Pugh said everyone is obviously excited about making state.We had some ups and downs today but we're excited about going, Pugh said. We're not going to settle for just going.The tournament started out with a bang for the Wolves, having cruised through pool play.They started out with a 15-3, 15-10 win against Kelso, and followed with a 15-8, 4-15, 15-8 win against Decatur, and a 15-5, 15-8 win against Kent-Meridian.SK entered its match against K-M knowing they were going to state because of Decatur's win against Kelso.SK junior Erin Olsen said everyone was floating during their match against K-M.Pugh said the girls reaction of making it to state was memorable.They were pumped, Pugh said. It was funny because we had kids crying because they knew they were there (state).The Wolves opened Saturday with a match against Prairie of Vancouver and struggled, losing in straight sets 15-9, 15-7.Senior Rachelle Cooper and junior Katie Ralph managed to combine for just seven kills in the match.Sixteen of Prairie's 30 points came on SK hitting errors.The problems seemed to continue in the Wolves' next match against Kentridge, as SK dropped the first set, 15-12.But the Wolves stormed back to win the next two sets, 15-3, 15-10.Cooper and Ralph each had 14 kills in the match.Six different SK players served an ace. Olsen led the team with three aces.SK suffered a setback in that match, though, losing freshman setter Stephanie Olsen to a wrist injury.That injury kept her out of the Wolves' final match of the day against Olympia.A win against Olympia would have put the Wolves in the third/fourth place match, but they instead had to settle for sixth place after falling to Olympia 15-7, 15-3.Erin Olsen, who was forced to be the lone setter for the first time this season, said everyone is excited about going to state, but the team will need to make improvements if they want to be competitive this weekend.I think we came in here (Saturday) thinking we're already at state and that was that, Olsen said. We still need to work on defense even though we work on it every single practice.Junior Olivia Bui, who logged more minutes on the court at districts than combined the whole season, said there were a lot of communication breakdowns.There are a lot of communication problems. We're not talking at all, Bui said. We should be able to be comfortable but the chemistry wasn't right sometimes.Pugh said the defense will need make adjustments if they want to be successful at state.We just have to get our defensive positions better, Pugh said. We got into situations where we were hoping balls were out instead of getting where we needed to be. At this level you can't play sloppy and can't assume or have that kind of mentality.Erin Olsen said another key to the state tournament will be passing.Poor passing really gets us down, Olsen said. If you can't get a pass, you can't run an offense, and can't get a point.SK tips off pool play with a match against Woodinville at 9:30 a.m., followed by a 1:30 p.m. match against Mead, and a 6:30 p.m. showdown against Bethel. "

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