OC volleyball weathering many storms

Lindsey Webel spikes the ball against Whatcom on Wednesday. - Wesley Remmer/staff photo
Lindsey Webel spikes the ball against Whatcom on Wednesday.
— image credit: Wesley Remmer/staff photo

The 2008 season has been anything but a cakewalk for the Olympic College volleyball team and second-year coach Kaelea Makaiwi.

Poor grades and injuries were the culprits early on, trimming the roster so heavily during the preseason that Makaiwi was forced to recruit players on the fly simply to keep six active players on the team. The Rangers lost four players to grades alone and canceled early-season scrimmages because the roster was too thin.

So, in early September, Makaiwi brought in three freshmen who hadn’t planned to play in 2008 at the college level, including King’s West grad Megan Morris and Olympic High School grad Leah Brumm.

Morris and Brumm, along with Port Angeles’ Chelsea Williams, were placed directly in the lineup.

“We started out having to deal with adversity,” Makaiwi said Wednesday, following a 3-0 loss to Whatcom College. “It’s been up and down.”

The Rangers’ roster has resembled a jigsaw puzzle, with Makaiwi mixing and matching her lineup to combat injuries along the way to Frances Kenny, Lauren Dorsey, Chelsea Williams and Hokunani Anakalea-Patcho, all of whom are freshmen.

“They’ve adjusted really well,” Makaiwi said, explaining the team’s chemistry is solid given the circumstances.

“The chemistry they have, and the heart they have, is unbelievable,” she said. “I’ve said to them along the way that (chemistry and heart) will carry them. It doesn’t matter if we have a rough season like we’re having, or a great season.”

Unfortunately, the chemistry hasn’t carried over to the win column as OC is 2-20 overall and 0-6 in league play.

Wednesday’s loss (13-25, 22-25, 14-25) exemplified why the young team — nine freshmen and one sophomore — simply needs more playing time together.

Whatcom whizzed to a 15-2 lead in the first game thanks mostly to a lack of communication by the Rangers, who appeared out of sorts and talked little during points. OC outscored Whatcom 11-10 to finish the game, but it wasn’t enough.

“We took too long to get going,” Makaiwi said. “Then once we started going, they were too far ahead.”

The communication picked up in the second game as OC took a 9-7 lead and kept the game tight all the way. But with the score tied 20-20, Whatcom reeled off five of the final seven points to take the game 25-22.

“Huge,” Makaiwi said of communication. “It was there late in the first game, all through the second game and then off and on through the third game.”

Game 3 was never in doubt, with Whatcom taking an early 9-3 lead and never looking back.

“I think for them it’s frustrating because it’s loss, loss, loss,” Makaiwi said of the team’s morale. “Going through the league the first time, we’re 0-6. That’s weighing on them heavily.”

But there’s time to turn the season around. The Rangers are only halfway through the league schedule, having six more to play, and also have a crossover tournament and the Green River Tournament before the postseason play begins Nov. 20.

“I believe they have all the tools they need, it’s just a matter of putting it all on the floor when it comes time to do it,” Makaiwi said. “Just because we’re 0-6 doesn’t mean we can’t turn it around.”

The turnaround could begin with the team’s next home match, 7 p.m. Oct. 15 against Bellevue Community College (11-11, 4-1).

“Amazingly ... they haven’t lost their heart and passion to play with all these losses and all these things that have happened,” Makaiwi said. “They are still here.”

Kenny, Lindsey Webel and Jessica Jordan led the team in kills through four league games with 43, 42 and 41, respectively. Kenny also led the team in digs with 54.

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