Cougars setting the bar high

As the regular season begins to wind down, the Central Kitsap volleyball team is prepping for another playoff run.

And if Tuesday’s battle with South Kitsap is any indication, the playoffs may as well have already started.

Tuesday’s epic on the court had a playoff buzz and intensity from the players themselves to the fans in the stands. And the game proved to be memorable for more reasons than one.

Central Kitsap (10-3, 6-0) took down the Wolves (9-4, 3-3) at home, 23-25, 25-8, 25-16, 22-25, 15-8. But more than the score, Cougars Alli Weisbarth and Theresia Dever will have other reasons to savor the win.

Weisbarth, with 46 assists, set the new school mark at 1,400 (1,424 after Thursday’s 3-0 win over Olympic), besting the old record of 1,357 held by Korrie Kashuba, who played for CK from 1993 to 1995. Dever on the other hand, who also goes by Reese, recorded her 386th dig of the season against SK, topping Lindsey Fryer’s single-season mark of 374, set in 2003.

But even more impressive was the resolve CK showed in handing the Wolves a close loss.

CK coach Gordy Bushaw said the game truly was a team affair, with every player on the court making a significant contribution at one point or another.

“Everybody. Absolutely everybody,” Bushaw said. “Reese was busy as always. Obviously, Melissa (Liechty) was. Celena (Canode) came up with her best game of her career. Shannon (Sumner)’s jump serve was key in the third. Linzy (Singleton) had some great digs.

“Everybody was involved.”

After battling tight in the first match, CK used a 17-1 run to quickly dispel the Wolves in the second. But the rest of the game went down to the wire before CK pulled it out on a 5-1 run in the fifth.

“It’s great,” Bushaw said. “We had a lot of playoff-type intensity in our tourney last Saturday (too). One of the things that is really good for us is the overall level of the league is really up. Nobody is going to walk over anyone.”

Canode, who finished with 13 kills in the game, also was in on several key blocks. She had what Bushaw called her best game at CK.

“I know I’ve been waiting for this all season,” Canode said. “We knew we had to beat South. We were up for this one.”

Weisbarth said while she was certainly happy about setting the new assists mark, the game in which it happened made it that much sweeter.

“It feels like a big satisfaction and pride. It makes it so much better,” she said. “It’s so exciting. It’s a good confidence booster. It shows we can fight and can play with everybody.”

On her new record, Dever agreed, saying she was “shocked” to find out.

“I don’t really know what to say,” Dever said. “I’m kind of shocked. It was awesome. You couldn’t have picked a better game.”

The Cougars were able to clinch the Bridge after knocking off a resurgent Olympic team, 3-0 (25-12, 25-18, 25-23). The contest was extremely close, with Lindsey Webel nearly lifting the Trojans (5-7, 1-4) to at least a set win with 12 digs and 7 kills. Liechty had 9 kills in the win for CK.

While Olympic is out of the playoff picture, the Trojans have secured their best finish since the 2002-03 school year, when the

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