Sports

Oly volleyball: No. 1

Serah Peterson (14) and Megan Rainey (9) go up for a block against Port Angeles Tuesday. The Lady Trojans beat NK 3-2 Thursday. - Jesse Beals/staff photo
Serah Peterson (14) and Megan Rainey (9) go up for a block against Port Angeles Tuesday. The Lady Trojans beat NK 3-2 Thursday.
— image credit: Jesse Beals/staff photo

With arms raised, players formed a two-line tunnel and the student body ran through, celebrating Olympic volleyball’s biggest win in a long, long time.

The Lady Trojans outlasted North Kitsap in a wild one-game playoff Thursday, 3-2, to secure the No. 1 seed in the upcoming sub-district tournament and the 3A regular season 3A/2A Olympic League championship.

In front of a boisterous, near-capacity crowd, Oly blew a 2-0 game lead, letting NK tie the match 2-2, before storming back to win the fifth game, 15-9.

A mob scene ensued.

“We knew it was going to be a war,” coach Keith Peden said as fans flooded the court.

Oly clicked early in the match, taking the first two games 25-17 and 25-19, respectively.

“When we won those first two games, I told the kids, ‘If you think you’re going to get out of this that easy, it’s not going to happen,’” Peden said.

Sure enough, with Sarah Braugh serving, NK established a 3-0 lead to begin the third game. The lead ballooned to 5-1, 7-2 and eventually, 13-2 before the Lady Trojans finally scored again. The lead, however, was too much and NK held on 25-19.

Braugh, who led the Lady Vikings with eight kills, 12 assists and 10 digs, also opened the fourth game on serve and gave NK a 7-0 lead which, again, was too large for Oly to overcome. The Lady Vikings (12-5 overall, 9-3 league) won the fourth game easily, 25-10.

“They still have to beat us, it’s still our match,” Peden told his players just before the final game.

With a boatload of momentum, NK took a 2-0 lead to open the fifth game and it appeared the wheels had flown off Oly’s caravan.

But the Lady Trojans captured eight of the next 10 points to secure an 8-4 lead. Then, the teams exchanged points to make it 10-6 before senior Megan Rainey scored the two biggest points of the match.

On back-to-back spikes, buried in an empty pocket deep on NK’s side, Rainey put Oly ahead 12-6.

“We started playing at the end there, we started to get momentum,” Peden said. “We started to pass the ball again, which was something we got away from in games three and four.”

Senior libero Cayla Lawson, who finished with 18 digs, then made the play of the match. With the score 12-6, Braugh sent a screaming spike over the net which Rainey managed to dig, sending the ball skyward and about 10 feet out of bounds toward Oly’s bench. Lawson raced over and put a hand on it to keep the play alive, and Oly eventually won the point to go up 13-6.

“That save right there, a lot of kids give up on that,” Peden said. “I think that was one of the plays of the match right there.”

The Lady Trojans (12-4, 10-2) automatically advance to districts and host Capital, the No. 1 seed from the Western Cascade League, on Wednesday to determine the No. 1 seed from the combined OWL (Olympic/Western League) in next week’s West Central District Tournament. The tournament begins Saturday, Nov. 7 in the Pavilion at the Kitsap County Fairgrounds.

“They got some confidence back, and I’m really proud of them because earlier in the season I don’t know if we pull that fifth game out,” Peden said. “They showed a lot of growth and a lot of maturity and came and played that fifth game the way they needed to play it.”

For Rainey, who led Oly with 18 kills, the win was all about playing to the crowd and protecting the home court.

“North’s always had a pretty big fan base. When we went to their house, it was tough,” Rainey said, pointing to Oly’s Sept. 18 3-0 (25-22, 27-25, 25-23) road win at NK.

Thursday’s one-game playoff was the third matchup between NK and Oly this season, with the team’s splitting the previous two. Each team had won on the opposing team’s floor.

“We got in a little bit of a rut,” Rainey said of Games 3 and 4. “(Coach Peden) just said that the crowd is having fun, we just need to have fun too.”

The Lady Vikings, meanwhile, host WCL No. 3 seed North Thurston at 7 p.m. Wednesday.

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