Sports

Lady Cougs rewrite history

Lindsey Fryer was a big reason for the Cougars reaching the state tournament, notching 45 kills, 51 digs and 10 aces in CK’s three matches at the West Central District Tournament. “I don’t think I’ve served that hard all season,” the junior said after making three-straight aces against Bellarmine. - Photo by Jesse Beals
Lindsey Fryer was a big reason for the Cougars reaching the state tournament, notching 45 kills, 51 digs and 10 aces in CK’s three matches at the West Central District Tournament. “I don’t think I’ve served that hard all season,” the junior said after making three-straight aces against Bellarmine.
— image credit: Photo by Jesse Beals

SPANAWAY — With tears nearly streaming from her eyes, Central Kitsap senior Aimee Carroll looked at the volleyball in her hand and then looked across the court as she nailed a serve across the net. The opposing Bellarmine Prep Lions appeared to have sent the ball back on to the CK side of the net until the official blew his whistle and indicated one of the Lions came down with their foot across the line.

For a minute the CK players seemed stunned at the call — right before they began to jump around and celebrate the fact they were on their way this Thursday to the Everett Events Center to take part in the state Class 4A volleyball tournament for the first time ever.

It was an improbable comeback that fueled the Cougars’ celebration. Down 22-11 in the third set after winning the first two 25-21, 25-14, CK junior Tara Simons nailed down a trio of aces for a 5-0 CK drive to get to 22-16. Bellarmine’s Amy Hoffman nailed a kill to put the Lions up 24-18. But a serving error put the ball into Carroll’s hands as she made eight perfect serves for the 26-24 win.

“There was huge pressure because I hadn’t been serving well that game,” said Carroll, who missed all last season with a knee injury. “And then I said to myself ‘I need to step it up and get these in,’ and I was getting them in.”

CK coach Gordy Bushaw has been close to state before, though this is the first time he’s gotten a team over the district hump.

“We’ve been in four or five loser-out, winner-to-state games and we’ve been close,” said a beaming Bushaw who has coached at CK for 22 seasons. “It’s something that hasn’t bothered me that much, except I feel bad for the girls when we don’t get there.

“We had a great week of practice and the whole plan was to have another great week of practice.”

The Cougars trip to state didn’t start off on the easiest of paths when they lost to Emerald Ridge 25-23, 25-13, 25-13 in the opening round Friday. The Jaguars, who were the fourth-best team in the South Puget Sound League South Division at 6-3, saw the Cougars unofficially make 40 errors.

“We were scared to be here at first,” junior Lindsey Fryer admitted.

Simons said the team was a bit worn down Friday after an intense week of practices.

“After a long week we were a little tired,” Simons said. “And with so many juniors and sophomores on the team, this was our first time at districts.”

The Jaguars went on to play in the championship game, losing to Spanaway Lake 28-26, 23-25, 25-21, 25-23.

The Cougars went home Friday night knowing they’d have a tough match to start with on Saturday against defending district champs Puyallup. The Vikings have long been a source of CK playoff heartbreaks over the years.

“We’ve been their ticket to state five or six times,” Bushaw said.

But with big hitter (and University of Washington-bound) Christal Morrison out of the lineup with a knee injury, the Vikings (the preseason No. 1 in the polls) were downright mortal. CK opened with a 25-23 win before slumping 25-19. Then the Cougars climbed back in it for the final two sets, winning 25-23, 25-21 to set up the rematch with Bellarmine.

“We were really confident going in against Bellarmine even though they beat us 3-0 earlier (in the season),” Bushaw said. “We knew all we had to do is pass well and for the most part we did. We had a stretch where Bellarmine got up in that third game when the passing fell apart.”

Now the Cougars are preparing for the big dance and they say they’re ready for whoever comes their way.

“Now we know we can win,” said Fryer, who after struggling with her serves early, found her stroke in the second set against Bellarmine with three-straight aces. “I have no idea what we’ll do on Friday. We just want to go and play our hearts out, that’s all that counts. We know there’s going to be some good teams (at state), but we’re really good.”

“We are just as good as any team here,” Simons said. “We know what to do, we can handle it. All we have to do is take care of the ball. It’s just mental from now on.”

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