Cougs can’t claw way back to state

CK’s Shannon Sumner, slamming one against Enumclaw in the first round of the 4A West Central District 3 volleyball tournament, was among four CK seniors to play in their final game Friday.  - Photo by Jesse Beals
CK’s Shannon Sumner, slamming one against Enumclaw in the first round of the 4A West Central District 3 volleyball tournament, was among four CK seniors to play in their final game Friday.
— image credit: Photo by Jesse Beals

COVINGTON — Despite some tremendous efforts, both individually and as a team, the Central Kitsap Cougars simply couldn’t get past two of the top teams the South Puget Sound League and Greater St. Helens League offered.

CK fell to Enumclaw 3-2 (22-25, 25-20, 25-23, 23-25, 15-13) in the first round before dropping a consolation round loser-out match to Heritage, 3-1 (22-25, 25-11, 27-25, 25-18) Friday at Kentwood High School.

“Our district tournament is always tough,” CK coach Gordy Bushaw said. “Top to bottom, the South Puget Sound League is, I believe, the strongest league in the state. It is very difficult to get past them. We had our chances, though.”

Bushaw said a hard time passing on serve-receive cost the Cougs at times, but said the biggest reasons were each 6-feet, 2-inches: Enumclaw’s Emilee Sisco and Heritage’s Jessica Srajer.

“Probably the biggest difference between us and the two teams we played is that Enumclaw and Heritage each had a 6’2”, Division I-bound outside hitter who we could not match up against,” Bushaw said. “It seemed as if we always gained a little ground when the big hitters were in the back row and lost a little bit more ground when they were in the front row. That said, the Enumclaw match especially was as close as they get and could have gone either way.”

Proud of his team, Bushaw said it was nice to get as far, and take the Narrows League Bridge Division title along the way, in a year the squad wasn’t considered to be as strong as in the past.

“For what many thought would be a rebuilding year, our kids played very well,” Bushaw said. “Even though we struggled some in the last couple of weeks, we had some great moments against very good teams. At our best, this was as good as any team I’ve had. The problem was consistency, typical of a young team.”

But that means that much of the team will be back, a prospect Bushaw likes.

“Although it’s a little hard to think about it now, I think we will be stronger going into next season than we have been for some time,” Bushaw said. “As good as the seniors have been, this year’s sophomore class may be our best ever.”

Angela Spieker will be ready to step in for Bridge Division MVP Alli Weisbarth, who became the Cougars’ career assists leader this season. Klahowya transplant Vienna Gillman, libero Theresia Dever and Katrina Hill will vie for the outside hitter spot vacated by Bridge first-teamer Shannon Sumner. Whoever takes that spot will line up alongside fellow first-teamer Melissa Liechty. Bushaw said Lauren Forney should continue to be a force as well and added that Ayme Hanson could also play a vital role.

For those young players, he said they learned what it’s like to experience the playoffs. That’s something that should aid the team as it eyes a return to state.

“I don’t think the new players really understood what they were working towards all year,” Bushaw said. “Having had that experience will be invaluable as we go into next season. Even though we

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