CK is a tough first test for Bremerton

"The volleyball teams from Central Kitsap and Bremerton high schools finished at opposite ends of the rainbow last season. The Cougars were at the end with the gold, winning the Olympic League championship and earning the league's No. 1 Class 4A berth into the West Central District tournament.The Knights, well, they were at the other end of the rainbow. The end you never hear about.So what did Bremerton coach Tina Preece, whose team went winless in 1999, think about having to start the 2000 season Sept. 5 against the perennial power from her own alma mater, Central Kitsap?She liked it. And she loathed it.Is it a good way to start? Yes and no, said Preece after the young Knights were swept 15-4, 15-4, 15-13 by the Cougars and coach Gordy Bushaw - who had Preece on his team back when she was a senior at CK.I like it because it prepares us for the rest of the season, said Preece. I don't like it because because a match like this can affect your self-confidence.That shouldn't be a problem for the Knights, who join CK at today's 16-team Mukilteo Invitational tournament at Mariner High School before jumping back into the league pool Tuesday, Sept. 12 at Port Townsend.Despite the one-sided score, Preece's troops handled themselves pretty admirably against a Cougar team that is deep and talented - if not exactly brimming with returning stars - enough to defend the league title it won last year.We're more aggressive than we were last year, Preece said. I think these players have more desire to play, and win more than we did last year.A win wasn't in the cards against the Cougs, who went with their most experienced players - including third-year veteran hitters Stephanie Brown and Ann Rayburn - in the opening game. After that, Bushaw sent players, 13 in all, in waves. Only in the third game, when they had to rally from an 8-5 deficit, were they not in total command.I was really happy with how the more experienced players took control of the first two games, said Bushaw. Both Rayburn and Brown played near-perfect first games. I don't think they had a hitting error between them, and they passed really well.Rayburn finished with seven kills, and Brown had six to go with her three blocks.But the most impressive thing the Cougs had on display was their depth. Bushaw used a different setter in each of the three games - incumbent Mallori Hudson in the first, junior Jackie Miller in the second and sophomore Mandy Frum in the third - without an appreciable dropoff in efficiency.It was another soph, Ashley Wiseman, who served up the six-point streak that pulled CK from a three-point deficit into an 11-8 in the third game. That skein included an ace by Wiseman and two of Brown's stuffs.Another block, this one by Carroll, gave the Cougars a 14-11 lead, but the Knights rallied to pull within a point before CK got the clincher. "

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