Formidable front line

Every play, every day.

The motto of the Central Kitsap volleyball team hangs heavy on three of its biggest contributors.

For senior outside hitter Shannon Sumner, senior setter Alli Weisbarth and junior outside hitter Melissa Liechty, the mantra reminds them of the tasks that lie ahead.

Playing for a team with a storied volleyball tradition, the trio knows what they have to live up to.

But more importantly, they know they can count on each other to help reach new levels of success.

“We all take the responsibility as far as what we should be doing on the team,” Sumner said. “The chemistry is great this year.”

“Instead of having one major person on the team, it’s spread out for everyone to carry the weight,” Liechty said.

That’s a good thing too. Because as Liechty explained, along with tradition comes expectation.

“It’s nice to have that past confidence,” Liechty said. “But it’s also a lot to live up to.”

That’s why having each other, as well as the rest of their Cougar teammates has been so key to CK’s 7-3 (3-0 in Narrows League Bridge Division play) start this season.

In a year when the Narrows League is tighter than in previous seasons, competition has risen while guarantees have not. In the Bridge, even North Kitsap, just 2-8, played a tough 5-set match against CK and took down 5-5 Gig Harbor. Port Angeles is 0-3 in league, but 5-4 overall. In fact, seven of the Bridge’s eight teams are .500 or better.

And CK is loving every minute of it.

“It’s a more equal league,” Sumner said. “Last year, we just kind of killed everybody. This year there’s more competition and that’s good.”

“It’s not fun to win a 25-6 game,” Liechty said. “I think we’ve still got a few matches to step up.”

Last season, CK stormed the Bridge, going a perfect 7-0. In the Narrows League playoffs, CK earned the No. 1 seed to the 4A West Central District tournament. And while they would fall short of state, no one denies that CK was the class of the Narrows last season.

Gone is two-time Bridge MVP Lindsey Fryer.

But as the trio is quick to point out, it takes more than one player to achieve team success.

“I think we were close last year as this year, but it seems a little closer this year,” Weisbarth said. “Everybody knows each other more.”

That’s what has helped CK this year. Rather than having one dominant player, they have many very strong, skilled athletes. Weisbarth said that, combined with a very strong depth, should have the Cougs sitting pretty come playoff time.

“We have a lot of depth this year too,” Weisbarth said. “There’s not really a big difference from the first and second strings. We have a lot of confidence in everybody.”

Sumner and Liechty have known each other since Sumner was a fifth-grader and Liechty a fourth-grader. Sumner and

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