"Small team, large goals"
June 11, 2008 · Updated 4:49 PM
"Tobie Moore says she's about to field a volleyball team the likes of which the Bremer Student Center gymnasium never has seen before.When it's pointed out that that's not really saying much, the second-year Olympic College coach shrugs, allowing herself a thin, self-conscious smile.It's true that OC's athletic history doesn't exactly gush with volleyball success. Or trickle, ooze or even drip. Moore's mission, when she took over the job prior to last season, wasn't to start from scratch - but it wasn't far from that, either.It definitely is a building project. But Moore's optimism for the coming season - which begins next Friday, Aug. 31, when the Rangers host Puget Sound Christian College of Redmond at 7 p.m. - comes from knowing that she has some materials to build with.This year, I know exactly what I've got, and how to use it, she says of the eight players on her 2001 roster. The players that are returning, I can totally count on and draw on their experience. All the players have a lot more confidence in each other.Moore is so familiar with this year's building blocks because most of them come from the Kitsap Juniors program, of which she is director. Two of the Rangers' returning veterans - outside hitter Shar Agee and setter Stella Sebastian - and freshmen Mallori Hudson, Ann Rayburn and Erica Seigel - all have the benefit of Moore's club tutelage.Another frosh, Federal Way import Andrienne Malutin, was a club player on the other side of the sound.It really helps that they have that background, Moore says. You know they're good, solid players.Besides Agee and Sebastian, Moore has hitter-blockers Alicia Ryan and Aurora Washington back from last year's team, which didn't muster a victory in Northwest Athletic Association of Community Colleges (NWAACC) Northern Division play.To that nucleus, Moore adds Hudson and Rayburn, both veterans of Central Kitsap High School's perennially successful program, Malutin and Sequim product Seigel.It's not a large group, either in numbers or in stature - Washington, a reserve player last year who Moore says should blossom into a valuable outside blocker this fall, is the only 6-footer, and Ryan and Malutin are the only others who could be construed as tall in anything but a gathering of Singer Midgets.But Moore, like Bill Murray's Tripper in the original Meatballs movie, asserts:It just doesn't matter.I have no concerns about this team, Moore says. It's a good group. If there is a concern, it's that they're going to be too excited.We've never had this kind of excitement for volleyball here before.The Rangers' biggest offensive weapons figure to be Agee, also a major point producer for OC's basketball team last winter, and Rayburn. Both have an uncanny ability, despite their lack of physical size, to find and open spot and put the ball down.Shar's our sparkplug, Moore says. She's a great athlete, a great jumper and she plays taller than she really is. And I could put Ann anywhere on the floor. She'll just so smart about the game, she'd help wherever I put her.Sebastian, who emerged as a team leader last year, and Hudson give OC plenty of setting talent, and Seigel is cut from the same cloth as Agee and Rayburn - she'll give the Rangers some punch in the middle, despite her comparatively small size.Moore says she's looking for expanded contributions from Ryan, an alum of Kirkland's Lake Washington High School, and South Kitsap's Washington.And Malutin?She's a gift, Moore says. She was taking classes here last year, but by the time we found out about her, it was too late. She's just the player we needed to add some depth.The extensive club background on OC's abbreviated roster might help the Rangers get a head start against some of the other Northern Division teams as the conference deals with the new rally scoring system which will be used for the first time this fall.The game really changes, says Moore of the rally scoring (a team doesn't have to be serving to score points) and another rule change that will allow let serves (which touch the net but come down in play on the receiving side). It makes the serve a much bigger thing. Now you don't just give the serve away, you give a point. The game will have a much quicker pace.The Rangers play a home-and-home nonconference series with Puget Sound Christian College before opening their NWAACC North schedule Wednesday, Sept. 19 at the Bremer Center against Whatcom.The season concludes with the NWAACC championship tournament Nov. 15-17 at an as-yet undetermined site. Getting to the tournament is a tall order for a team that didn't win a conference match last year ... but Moore and the Rangers certainly are excited to try. "