Sports

Cougs hoping for return trip

Central Kitsap’s Tara Patton smashes a shot by Trojan Terrin Day in the Cougs’ 3-0 win at Olympic.  - Photo by Aaron Managhan
Central Kitsap’s Tara Patton smashes a shot by Trojan Terrin Day in the Cougs’ 3-0 win at Olympic.
— image credit: Photo by Aaron Managhan

Gordy Bushaw enjoys the system he has set up at Central Kitsap.

The volleyball coach has enjoyed a number of successes during Bushaw’s tenure, with the squad earning a trophy as the No. 5 team in the state a year ago.

The kicker? CK graduated just five seniors from that squad.

“We’ve been real fortunate with that for a long time,” Bushaw said follwing his team’s 3-0 win against Olympic Thursday. “We always have some experienced returners.”

And this year is no exception.

“You couldn’t ask for better than Angie (Spieker) and Reese (Dever),” Bushaw said. “Lauren (Forney) too.”

CK’s returning core doesn’t end there.

Also back with varying degrees of experience are seniors Katrina Hill, Katie Lintz and Nolan Winger as well as junior Racheal Diehl. CK also picked up the Patton sisters, Tara and Trisha, after their family moved from Klahowya’s boundaries and into CK’s attendance area.

But it’s setter Spieker, the school record-holder for assists in a season, and libero Dever, who holds the all-time CK marks in digs and aces in a season, that will key up the Cougs’ success on the hardwood this fall.

No one has impressed Bushaw this season more than Dever so far, who set another school record with a whopping 58 digs in Wednesday’s 3-2 (24-26, 25-16, 22-25, 26-24, 15-13) victory against Gig Harbor.

“She’s a really bright girl,” Bushaw said of Dever. “She really studies the game, studies the

hitters. She sees what’s going to happen before any other girls do.”

The one area where CK is thin is on the front line, with all-stater Melissa Liechty and fellow outside hitters Katie Wilkinson and Vienna Gilman gone.

That means more players like Forney and Hill will have to step up this season.

“There’s some things still to work on,” Bushaw said. “I think there are some setter-hitter communication issues. And we don’t have as much experience hitting as we did last year. But I think this will be a great group too.”

The addition of the Pattons gives CK more depth as well.

“They’re good players,” Bushaw said. “They’re nice kids. They’re pretty receptive.”

Hill spent most of last year battling injuries, so Bushaw said she was very excited to get back out on the court.

“She’s been in the program all along,” he said.

Diehl could surprise as well, as she was the only sophomore to play last year. Bushaw said in many ways, she’s grown the most.

“She’s just a completely different player than she was last year,” he said. “She has confidence. You can tell.”

Taking fifth in the state does wonders for team confidence as well.

“They know what it’s like to play against the best teams in the state,” Bushaw said. “At least that senior class does. But they know what it takes there. And they know something about what it takes to get there.”

CK is hoping to get back this season, setting up a tough non-league and tournament schedule.

For example, today CK will be at the Kent Classic, featuring reigning 3A state champ Bishop Blanchet and Oregon powerhouse Sunset High School.

“That’s going to have a lot of the best teams in the state there,” Bushaw said.

All that will only help prepare them for an also tough league schedule.

“Then we’ll get the tough ones,” Bushaw said. “Bellarmine, Wilson, Gig Harbor, Olympia. All of those.”

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