Young Oly has a lot to prove

Olympic sophomore Erynn Geno (30) and junior Serah Peterson attempt to block a shot by Central Kitsap’s Trisha Patton in Thursday’s 3-0 CK win. - Photo by Aaron Managhan
Olympic sophomore Erynn Geno (30) and junior Serah Peterson attempt to block a shot by Central Kitsap’s Trisha Patton in Thursday’s 3-0 CK win.
— image credit: Photo by Aaron Managhan

Olympic is feeling the pressure.

With just two returners from last year’s volleyball team that came within a win of a state placement, and with no seniors on the varsity roster, the young Trojans are feeling the heat to keep the success coming.

“Actually, they’re feeling a lot of pressure,” Oly coach Keith Peden said. “Especially the sophomores. Sometimes in practice I just have to say, ‘Guys, relax.’ They’re taking it very seriously. But they’ll toughen up. They’ll come along.”

The Trojans’ youth is certainly getting a baptism by fire this season, scheduling tough non-league matches and tournament appearances to help prepare them for a run at defending their Olympic League crown.

The most recent test came Wednesday in a 3-0 loss to crosstown rivals Central Kitsap.

“It’s tough,” Peden said. “We’re looking for that stability. We’re looking for that kid that when things get flustered, they’re that leader that can pull it back together. That’s the biggest thing.”

Oly’s only returners are Megan Rainey, who saw some substantial time last season for the Trojans, and fellow junior Jessica Castro. But Peden said the real key to this season will be the middle, as Oly is running with two sophomore setters in Amy Stone and Sam Viray.

“The thing with us is both our setters are sophomores,” Peden said. “Probably those two are gonna be the keys. If they can get consistent in setting, we can run it the way it should be.”

Having such a young team is providing Peden with a unique set of challenges as a coach.

“It’s obviously huge,” Peden said. “When you have a young team like that, you don’t have that mental discipline. We’re still trying to figure out whose gonna do the job, who’s our best lineup. You have to be a little bit of a magician I guess.”

Lots of Trojans saw playing time in Wednesday’s loss, and lots will continue to see playing time as Peden tries to figure out his lineup. But key factors will be juniors Terrin Day, Lexi Orteza and Ashley Pajimula as well as sophomores Chelsea Brustad, Erynn Geno and Sam Thorton.

Making his job easier, however, is the fact that the kids are not getting discouraged early on.

“I’m really proud of the kids,” Peden said after the CK loss dropped Oly to 0-3. “They’re keeping a good attitude. We’re really playing tough teams and that’ll make us even better.”

Playing those tough teams has already paid off as well, as Oly rebounded from a slow first game to play the Cougars tough in the final two.

“That’s a step,” he said. “Next we’ll hopefully get three in a row. They’ll do just fine. They’re starting to figure out the program. That’s how it’s supposed to be done.”

With a strong returning group, a youthful North Mason squad is who Peden said the rest of the Oly League will chase early on.

“Obviously, North Mason is the team with the target on their back,” he said. “But even then, they’re young too. We saw last year, they can get just as flustered. Other than that, it’s really a toss up.”

And while the team may not have had a huge hand in Oly’s state run last season, the effects of the trip can be seen throughout.

“You see it in the fan base,” Peden said. “You see it in the attitudes of the kids. When they first walked in the gym at the beginning of fall, it’s not just, ‘I’m here.’ It’s, ‘I’m here.’

“They’re going to establish their own name.”

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