Sports

Homegrown talent almost enough for OC

The Olympic College volleyball team

doesn’t have any national team players, from Peru or anywhere else.

But the Rangers are capable of throwing a scare into teams that do. And their coach, Tobie Moore, thinks they’re capable of even more.

“We can totally play with them,” Moore said after her team took visiting Shoreline — and the Dolphins’ 6-foot-2 Peruvian National middle blocker, Natalia Monteverde — to the maximum five games before dropping the Northwest Athletic Association of Community Colleges (NWAACC) Northern Region decision.

“This shows what these guys are capable of,” Moore said after her team shocked the late-arriving Dolphins 30-23 in the first game, then roared back from a 2-1 deficit to force the deciding game. “This is huge for us.”

Ranger players agreed with Moore after the 23-30, 30-28, 30-25, 28-30, 15-10 loss against the 6-0 Northern Region leaders.

“We were right with them,” said freshman setter Mallori Hudson, a Central Kitsap High School product. “If we keep playing like we did tonight, we’re going to be in there (for an NWAACC playoff berth). If they hadn’t had that one girl (Monteverde), they would’ve been in trouble.”

Monteverde, a native of Los Proceres, Peru, clearly was the difference against a Ranger team that played no one taller than Sequim freshman Erica Segle, who is 5-11. She had match-high totals in kills (23) and stuff blocks (nine), working with setter Stephanie Hinkle to move around the front line and find the gaps in OC’s block.

“We’ve always been undersized,” said Moore of the Rangers, who used only seven players. “But it doesn’t matter. If we play our game, size isn’t that big of a deal.”

Unfortunately, Olympic didn’t maintain the same level of play on Wednesday night, losing 30-22, 30-16, 30-7 to Whatcom at Bellingham. The Rangers, 2-5 in Northern Region play (4-5 overall), are in a non-division crossover tournament today and Sunday at Lower Columbia. They return to division play Wednesday, Oct. 17 at home against last-place Everett.

Monday night, Shoreline pulled into the parking lot scant minutes before the scheduled 7 p.m. start, and were on their heels almost from the outset of Game 1. Olympic served wickedly, keeping the pressure on the Dolphins and keeping Monteverde away from the net. Only three of her kills came in the first game.

OC led the opener by as many as 12 points, when freshman Adrienne Malutin served up three straight aces, and claimed the game when Monteverde hit into the net.

Shoreline never was able to impose its will on the Rangers until the third game, when it managed to open a 27-20 lead. Even then, though, there was some fight in OC, as back-to-back spikes by Shar Agee and Erica Segle twice staved off game point.

The Dolphins had a 28-25 lead in the fourth game, but OC scored five straight — finishing with Ann Rayburn’s ace — to level the match. The Rangers then led 6-1 in the tiebreaker set before Hinkle and Monteverde served up a 7-1 stretch to give their team a lead it clutched the rest of the way.

Moore said her team’s service was a key to its success against the bigger, more athletic Dolphins. The times they had momentum in the rally-score games (where points can be scored by either the serving or receiving team) were the times they served effectively.

“This is the first match we’ve played where we didn’t kick our owns butts with our serve,” she said. “We did well tonight. The girls understand how important the serve is, and they don’t hold anything back.”

OC ended up with a sizeable edge in aces, scoring 23 points from the stripe compared to 11 for Shoreline. Segle, Agee and Hudson each had five of those aces.

That was offset by Monteverde’s huge offensive numbers and by the steady play of Hinkle, the Dolphins’ sophomore setter, who added four aces and five kills to her 42 assists on the evening.

Agee had 12 kills to lead the Rangers. The match marked the return of sophomore blocker Alicia Ryan, who missed OC’s previous two outings with an ankle sprain. She was effective early in the match, getting five of her six kills and one of her two stuffs in Game 1.

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