Scrappy SK volleyball serves up seven varsity players

Nearly 72 hours before the season opener against Life Christian Academy, the South Kitsap High School volleyball team is still searching for an identity.

Cathy Gangnes, entering her second year as SK’s varsity coach, said it will take some time before she can figure out which players have the right chemistry.

Also tough to find is a replacement for Narrows League Bridge Division MVP Katie Ralph, who is playing at Eastern Tennessee State this year.

At the same time, SK returns seven varsity players off of last year’s district-qualifying team.

Though the corps of players are mostly juniors, SK’s sparkplug will be senior Jackie Binns.

Binns, a first-team all-Narrows selection, will be relied upon for her stellar defense and good serving.

Gangnes said she has naturally taken on the role of a leader on the court, as well.

Chelsea Hoffman earned a starting spot last year as a sophomore and is expected to contribute more offensively.

Gangnes said Hoffman is the kind of player coaches dream about having.

“She’s a fun player to use because we need her everywhere,” Gangnes said. “She set for us last year but we can also use her in the middle.”

Though only 5-6, Hoffman will be utilized in the front and back rows.

After starting out at junior varsity last year, senior Melissa Ballard came on strong toward the end of the season.

She, along with junior Stephanie Peacock (out with an injury right now), will also be looked upon to carry the load defensively and hit some from the outside.

Front row specialists Lea Juntila and Rikki Bentley, both juniors, earned some time at varsity last year and are improved since last year, Gangnes said.

The setting duties will fall under sophomore Crystal Bitz and junior Starlla Lockhard.

“Crystal was born with a pair of hands,” Gangnes said of her setter.

Also contributing at varsity will be senior Jennifer Whitford and junior Savannah Starkweather.

With the graduation of Ralph, Olivia Bui, Rebekah Proctor and Andrea Edwards, Gangnes said a lack of experience and height will be the biggest uphill climb.

“We’ve got a ways to go but it will come along,” Gangnes said.

Gangnes said it’s too early to wonder about other teams in the Narrows League.

“I’m only concentrating on developing these guys,” she said. “We’re still trying to get to where we need to be. The chemistry will be there.”

SK opens its season at home Tuesday against Life Christian Academy at approximately 5 p.m.

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