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Could OCs tournament drought be coming to an end?
CENTRALIA It has been 27 years since Olympic Colleges volleyball team has been in the postseason tournament.
In those nearly three decades, the program has been fraught with futility with a .328 winning percentage (79-241). After taking over last season and leading the Lady Rangers to a 3-9 NWAACC record (the teams best season since 1998 when it was 4-8), coach Clay Blackwood is rebuilding with hope.
I like their athletic ability, said Blackwood, after acknowledging the roster only has two returners Kristi Baumgartner (Central Kitsap) and Chelsea Hoffman (South Kitsap)) and 10 newcomers. This is the most athletic team weve had at OC in a long time.
The team has had an extensive non-league season, spending little time in practice as it has played the most games by far among their Northwest Athletic Association of Community Colleges peers.
Its what I wanted, Blackwood said. Preseason to me is to run them and see how they compete. I like the fact we got a lot of games in and (the coaches) got to see what these players can do.
Like most young teams, the Lady Rangers (6-14) have been hot and cold a fact best evidenced on Wednesday with matches against Linn-Benton (14-30, 16-30, 21-30) and Centralia (30-22, 30-19, 30-17).
Against the Lady Roadrunners (13-3), Blackwood said, we didnt pass well and never got into a rhythm. But we did play better as the games went on.
The team did much better in their match against the host Lady Trailblazers (0-16).
We played excellently, Blackwood said. The team was smooth, passed the ball well and had excellent serves (Andrea Milovich (freshman, Klahowya) had 9 aces). We were aggressive and Id like to see us play like that more.
With NWAACC North play starting Wednesday at Skagit Valley (the first home game isnt until Oct. 3 against Edmonds), the coach said its all about winning if the team wants to end its 27-year streak.
If we go 6-6, were in the top four for the NWAACC, Blackwood said. Its going to be interesting and if we reach that goal, Ill be pleased.
The Rangers (2-3-1) had a breakout game Thursday against Everett with a 6-0 win, their first this year against an NWAACC West foe under new coach Kenneth Campbell.
Max Sutherland (sophomore, North Kitsap) scored the first two goals, leading the way for solo goals by midfielder Ben Bryant (freshman, NK), David Brilhart (freshman, NK), Ryan George (sophomore, NK) and Broc Gaboriault (freshman, CK).
Assists came from Patrick Perkins (freshman, Bremerton) with two and solo assists by Josh Lane (freshman, KSS) and Gaboriault. Chris Ellis (freshman, Jackson) recorded the shutout.
OC is at Skagit Valley College at 2 p.m. today and host Shoreline at 5 p.m. Wednesday at Memorial Stadium.
Playing in front of the home crowd for the first time this season, the Lady Rangers improved to .500 with a 5-0 blowout against Everett.
Jessica White (freshman, Olympic) scored twice with an assist. Amy Demerick (sophomore, CK) had a goal and an assist. Amy Patawaran (freshman, OHS) and Allison Molnar (sophomore, Kings West) made solo goals.
Ashley Phillips (freshman, NK) and Sarah Mason (sophomore, SK) combined for the shutout.
OC (2-2) plays at noon today at Skagit Valley (0-0) and hosts Shoreline (3-0-1) at 3 p.m. Wednesday at Memorial Stadium.