Sports

Netters see seasons end on hard note

Aaron Managhan

Sports Editor

KENT — If there’s one thing Central Kitsap’s volleyball team did consistently this year, it was battle through inconsistencies.

That finally caught up with the Cougars on Nov. 3 at the 4A West Central District Volleyball Tournament at Kentwood High School. Central Kitsap fell to Narrows League rivals Bellarmine in a winner-to-state, loser-out game in three tight sets 25-22, 25-20, 25-19.

“It’s hard to finish one game short,” CK coach Gordy Bushaw said. “But it’s better than finishing two or three games short.”

Central Kitsap had an up-and-down road to getting into one of the consolation finals, starting with a tough 3-0 loss to Curtis, 25-17, 25-21, 25-22. CK rebounded with a win against Kentridge 3-0 (25-23, 25-23, 25-18) before topping Tahoma in what Bushaw said was the best he’s seen this year’s team.

“The kids played well,” Bushaw said. “Both the Curtis match and the Bellarmine match at the end, the kids played hard. They played well enough to stay close, but not well enough to win. On the other hand, Tahoma was probably the best match we played all year. And Tahoma was probably the best team we went up against.”

Against Tahoma, CK fought back after dropping the first set 23-25 with 25-17, 25-12 and 25-20 wins.

“They were certainly pleased with the way they played against Tahoma,” Bushaw said. “Nobody thought we were gonna beat them.”

That win set up the match with Bellarmine, the only Narrows team to advance to state. While that loss is still stinging, Bushaw said the players will realize just how good a run they had once it wears off.

“It’s hard to see the big picture right after losing to Bellarmine in a match we thought we had a chance in,” he said. “But you have to give them credit. We played them three times this year and that was the best they played.”

Overall, Bushaw said it was the same inconsistencies in the serve-receive game and with hitting that ultimately sealed CK’s district fate.

“We’re not a great percentage serving team,” he said. “But when we’d miss a couple, it seems like everything else gets tentative too. When we hit out a couple times, it seems like our hitters are trying to be too careful. That’s the kind of thing that happens sometimes with a new group of hitters.”

After taking fifth place at state last year, Bushaw said the disappointment was only natural, as many of this year’s team were key players in that run. But he said shortly after he could see the positives coming back to light.

“The kids were disappointed,” he said. “They wanted to go back. They knew how big a deal that is. But by the time we finished the bus ride home, they were smiling again. They know they had a good season.”

And while some parts of the team’s game were inconsistent, Bushaw said the two key cogs CK could rely on most were just as steady during the tournament in setter Angie Spieker and libero Reese Dever.

“They’ve been consistent all year long and the tournament was no different,” Bushaw said. “(Spieker) just set a great match against Tahoma. She just picked up on that. That was fun to watch. Reese, as always, served great. She just picked ’em apart. Her defense was as good as ever.”

With Dever, Spieker, outside hitters Lauren Forney, Katrina Hill, Katie Lintz and opposite hitter Noal Winger graduating, Bushaw said the team will have to find new players to step up next year. He said with the combination of Dever, Spieker, Forney and Hill, he’s never lost so much varsity experience at once.

“We’ve never had that many players that were three-year varsity players in one class,” he said. “They brought a level of experience that we haven’t seen much before. But we’ve got pretty good players coming back in.”

While it’s still early to look back over the season, Bushaw said it’s still a positive one to reflect on.

“It was a good season,” he said. “I expected us to get more consistent as the season went on. On the other hand, going into the season, if someone had told us we’d make it to the match that decides if we go to state or not, I’d be happy we had the chance. We had some very, very good moments against some very good teams. And like any year, we had some that were a little disappointing.”

As for those returners, he said he thinks they’ll be strong enough to keep CK’s reputation for strong play on the courts in tact.

“I think we’ll be there,” Bushaw said. “I think we’ll be in good shape next year.”

Olympic

The Olympic Trojans also got bounced at districts Nov. 3, with Oly falling to Mount Rainier to open play Friday in Auburn.

After falling to MR 25-16, 25-19, 23-25, 25-13, the Trojans then lost to North Thurston to finish two-and-out.

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