CK takes top seed into districts

TACOMA — At first glance, the anticipated match-up between the Narrows League’s two No. 1 teams, Central Kitsap and Capital, didn’t seem like it would be very long. Capital, whose Cougars beat CK in three close games 3-0 in the regular season, came out gunning, and before CK could even score, they faced an 10 point deficit.

But by the end of that match, the CK girls made it clear they didn’t get this far to simply fold.

And when it was all said and done, Central Kitsap, powered by Lindsey Fryer, took home its first Narrows League volleyball championship the same way they took the Bridge Division, in five close games at Mount Tahoma High School on Saturday. The 3-2 (18-25, 25-22, 25-18, 28-30, 15-10) victory also earned the CK Cougars (14-1 overall, 8-0 Bridge Division) the No. 1 Narrows League berth at the district playoffs. With the seeding, CK will next take on South Puget Sound League No. 7 seed, Kentwood, at 3 p.m. on Friday at Kentwood. Kentwood (13-3) defeated Curtis Saturday, 3-1, to earn the No. 7 berth.

CK coach Gordy Bushaw was excited not only for the title, but for the Capital (13-2, 6-2) rematch.

“We knew we had a great shot at them,” Bushaw said. “We lost three close games in their place. But we knew if we put the match together, we could do this.”

After dropping behind 10-0 in the first game, CK slowly started mounting its counterattack. After a couple Capital shots into the net and a pair of aces by Fryer, CK had narrowed the gap to just three at 12-9. Capital didn’t let them get closer however, as great blocking by Maggie Goldenberger and Lydnsey Hopkins, coupled with several CK mistakes, kept Capital in front for a first game win, 25-18.

Capital coach Natalie Zukowski said her team needs to keep up the play they had early in the first game.

“We just had some fire there,” Zukowski said. “We wanted it right then. I wish we could’ve carried it through the whole match.”

Each team had big runs in the second game, keeping it close right up to the end. Down 19-20, CK surged ahead behind Capital mistakes and great play by Melissa Liechty, who floated over a great point and ended the game, and CK’s 7-2 run, with an ace. CK evened the overall score with a 25-22 win.

Bushaw said great play from Liechty and fellow sophomore Linzy Singleton was pivotal for their attack.

“Some of the kids hadn’t played (in this situation before),” Bushaw said. “Both made some great digs. Little Linzy (Singleton) had some great digs and big Lindsey (Fryer) had some great blocks.”

CK sprinted ahead late in the third game as well, and after Capital tied it up at 18-18, big kills by Shannon Sumner and Alli Weisbarth and more Capital out shots let CK end it, 25-18.

But game four was clearly the evening’s highlight. The teams went back and forth, with Fryer slamming several points for CK and Capital’s Kimber Simonetti coming up big. CK got an early 5-1 lead thanks to several calls against Capital. More solid Capital Cougar blocking by Rose McPherson and Christi Ezechukwu got them four back, tying it at 5-5. After trading several more points, each team added another run, with CK seemingly taking the lead, 18-15. But Goldenberger, who had five kills and nine blocks, ensured it would stay close, coming up with more big blocking, including stuffing Fryer twice, one a tip and slam, to help keep them within three at 24-21. With only one point away from ending their season, Capital came back.

Simonetti slammed home two points, and after a carry against CK, game four was evened up at 24-24. The teams traded a series of match points before Capital outside hitter Carly Crabb killed a pair to win it, 30-28. Crabb finished with seven kills on the night. The teams played a combined total of seven match points before CHS could even it up.

“Obviously in that fourth game, they had us in four or five match points and we didn’t give up,” Zukowski said. “That’s the team I want to see.”

The final game also started back and forth, with CK leading at 9-7. CK didn’t help themselves however, as the first five Capital points came off CK mistakes. But that was as close as Capital would get, as Fryer took over, dominating four of CKs last five points to put them ahead, 15-10. Fryer had another huge game, with 26 kills, six blocks and four aces and was ecstatic at the win.

“It’s awesome,” Fryer said. “I’m lost for words. It’s a great feeling. We were really focused on keeping pumped up and not making mistakes. I think we were tight defensively.”

CKs Shannon Sumner also had a huge game, saving the CK Cougars multiple times with her 32 digs. She also came up big offensively with 12 kills.

“It’s amazing,” Sumner said. “To be a junior and to go again, it’s a great experience. I love these girls. This whole team is amazing.”

Bushaw praised CK’s ability to keep in the game mentally, getting over mistakes to stay aggressive.

That same toughness is what Zukowski said her team needs to do well at districts.

“We’ve just got to get mentally tough,” she said. “We’re not there right now. There’s nothing much I can do to mentally prepare them. They have to do it themselves.”

Bushaw said his team will need to continue to play tough to advance back to state for the second-straight year.

“I’m really proud of the kids,” Bushaw said. “There were lots of points we could have folded. When we were down 11-0 (in the first game), we could have folded then. In that fourth game we could have folded. But we didn’t.”

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