Volleyball preview: Bremerton and Central Kitsap area teams hope for spike in success

Gordon Bushaw, in his 29th season as coach, gives instruction to the Central Kitsap High School volleyball team during a recent practice. - Wesley Remmer/staff photo
Gordon Bushaw, in his 29th season as coach, gives instruction to the Central Kitsap High School volleyball team during a recent practice.
— image credit: Wesley Remmer/staff photo

Olympic High School

Coach: Keith Peden (sixth season)

League: Olympic

Classification: 2A

2009 finish: Olympic League runner-up, eliminated in sub-district tournament

Who to watch: Miya Pavlock-Mcauliffe, junior, OH/MB; Hanalora Geyer, junior, OH/MB; Mikayla Carlson, junior, MB; Jenna Tippets, sophomore, S; Shannon Jackson, senior, MB; Monica Phinney, junior, OH; Nichelle Goedel, senior, OH; and Kira Varady, senior, L/DS.

Who will be missed: Chelsea Brustad, Sam Thornton, Amy Stone and Erynn Geno.

Looking ahead: There were plenty of new faces on the court when Olympic opened the 2010 season with a come-from-behind, five-set victory last week at South Kitsap High School.

Which is why sixth-year coach Keith Peden was thrilled with the performance. He lost six key contributors from a 2009 squad that finished second in the Olympic League behind North Mason and qualified for the sub-district tournament.

“It was an awesome match,” Peden said of defeating a Class 4A opponent, despite entering the match with a predominately new roster. “I was real proud of them, they did what they needed to do.”

The 2010 club is one of the youngest Peden’s had in years — there are four seniors listed on the roster — but he believes the crop of newcomers and returning players are capable of leading the team to the postseason.

With the Olympic League made up entirely of 2A teams, other than Bremerton High School, Peden expects his club to contend for a league title. He said North Kitsap High School is the team to beat, but since three teams are guaranteed a playoff spot, Olympic should find itself in the postseason.

The team’s last appearance at a state tournament was in 2006. To get back, Peden said, the team must polish its passing and become comfortable in its formations.

“We are looking at getting back to state if we make the improvements we need to make,” Peden said.

Central Kitsap High School

Coach: Gordon Bushaw (29th season)

League: Narrows

Classification: 4A

2009 finish: Narrows League fourth place, eliminated at districts

Who to watch: Asha Hill, senior, OH; Alexis Wesley, senior, MB, Tricia Vantino, junior, S; and Kiana Huston, senior

Who will be missed: Naomi Stocks, Aubrie Olaes and Cailey Washington.

Looking ahead: With the arrival of three talented sophomores and the return of three senior starters, Central Kitsap coach Gordon Bushaw expects to see his team in the playoffs at season’s end.

By the middle of the season, the longtime coach said, Central Kitsap could be better than it was a year ago at every position. The team reached districts in 2009.

“Those three sophomores are really talented,” Bushaw said. “We’ve got a young team, but a really solid nucleus.”

Central Kitsap has one of the best outside hitters in the area in senior Asha Hill, who was a first team all-leaguer in 2009 after leading the Lady Cougars with 261 kills. Hill will be joined on the court by fellow seniors Alexis Wesley and Kiana Huston. Juniors Tricia Vantino and Jaylyn Boydon also will see playing time. Incoming sophomores Nicole Diehl, Cassie Burns and Logan LaFontaine will vie for starting spots, too, Bushaw said.

“We need to be really confident, try hard and go for everything,” Hill said.

Crosspoint Academy

Coach: Scott Gordon (second season)

League: SeaTac

Classification: 2B

2009 finish: Missed playoffs

Who to watch: Meaghan Houser, junior, OH; Amy Cooper, senior, S; Chelsey Tennessen, senior, MH, Kelly Arns, senior, OH; Savannah Howell, junior, MB;

Who will be missed: Brie Seeley and Irene Moore.

Looking ahead: Despite finishing below .500 a year ago and struggling to fill the roster this season because of low enrollment, optimism abounds at Crosspoint.

Coaches Scott Gordon and Norene Beaver return for their second season, hoping to build on a 6-8 record from their inaugural campaign.

The team’s undisputed leader is junior Megan Houser, who was was selected to the All-SeaTac League Team a year ago. She led the team in kills and digs in 2009 and is being recruited by Division I, II and III schools, Beaver said.

This season Houser will shift from middle to outside hitter.

Also expected to make key contributions are Amy Cooper, a captain who registered 15 assists in a season-opening win over Klahowya Secondary School on Tuesday. Kelly Arns and Chelsey Tennessen, returning seniors, also will see significant playing time.

“We have been laying the foundation all summer and attempting to build a program that will continue to produce great volleyball players into the future,” Beaver said in e-mail Tuesday.

Klahowya Secondary School

Coach: Dragan Karadzic (second season)

League: Olympic

Classification: 2A

2009 finish: Missed playoffs

Who to watch: Megan Shultz, senior, S; Ciera Eisel, freshman, OH; Paige Eberhard, sophomore, OH; Holly Crowe, senior, OPP; Allison Page, junior, OPP.

Who will be missed: Samantha Ellis

Looking ahead: Take a quick glance at Klahowya’s roster, and one may think the majority of the squad has played together for years.

Four seniors, four juniors, three sophomores and two freshmen — balanced by high school standards.

But nine of the team’s 14 players had never played varsity when the Lady Eagles tipped off the 2010 season Tuesday with a loss in straight sets to Crosspoint. All four juniors are in their first season with the varsity squad, as are the sophomores and freshmen.

“We are very, very young and our success will depend primarily on how well the freshmen and sophomores can adjust to playing at this level,” coach Dragan Karadzic said.

One player who does have experience is senior setter Megan Shultz, whose job will be to distribute the ball to freshmen outsider hitter Ciera Eisel and sophomore outsider hitter Paige Eberhard. Samantha Ellis, who graduated in June, was Klahowya's leading offensive player in 2009.

Karadzic said the starting middle hitter has yet to be decided, with three underclassmen competing for the job.

Bremerton High School

Coach: Kim Renken (first season)

League: Olympic

Classification: 3A

2009 finish: Missed playoffs

Who to watch: Allie Taylor, junior, S; Merissa Duzenski, junior, MB.

Who will be missed: Kia MacIntyre, Penny Bell, Arianna Jones

Looking ahead: Bremerton welcomes its third head coach in as many seasons with the arrival of Kim Renken.

The Lady Knights finished with a 4-10 record last season under Beth Donnelly, who is now coaching at Olympic College. Although the team missed the playoffs, the four-win season was Bremerton’s best since 2006.

Renken has two talented players in juniors Allie Taylor and Merissa Duzenski, both of whom will see increased roles with the departures of team leaders Kia MacIntyre, Penny Bell and Arianna Jones.

Bremerton is the lone 3A team in the Olympic League this season.

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