NK takes the long route to advance to state

Fans love offense, but it’s defense that wins games.

That was the case Nov. 11 when Fife upset No. 1 seed North Kitsap in the West Central Volleyball Tournament at Franklin Pierce High School.

The powerful NK offense never got on track as the Trojans back line was able to dig up Viking spikes. Along with that, Fife expertly blocked a number of kill attempts at the net, not only keeping the ball in play, but also sending it back in the faces of the attackers.

As a result of the loss, the Vikings had to play right after that contest against Highline. NK was able to pull off a victory there. Then on Nov. 12 it held off Sequim 3-2 to advance to the state tournament in Tri Cities this weekend.

NK won the Olympic League with a 14-0 record, while the Wolves were second at 11-3.

Against No. 8 seeded Fife, NK lost in three sets — 25-23, 25-21 and 25-17. Fife’s standout 5-foot-11 junior hitter Emilia Linden time and time again proved to be the difference in each game.

The first set was close the entire way, with neither team leading by more than a couple of points.

For NK, a block by Maddie Pryde, a spike by Iliana Brockett, and dinks by Brockett and Mackenzie Phillips tied the score at 9-9. Blocks for points by Brockett and Pryde and a surprise spike by setter Sophia Baugh put the Vikings ahead 16-15. Fife pulled ahead but NK came right back on dinks by Baugh and Brockett. But then Linden took over with a spike, a block, another kill and then a powerful spike to end the set.

In the second set, Pryde got NK off to a good start with a block and dink for points. A couple of kills by Linden put Fife up 11-5, but Brockett’s serving and her kill from the backcourt brought NK back. Spikes by Mary Allen and Baugh and a block by Brockett put NK ahead 13-12. But rather than spike into the blockers, Linden hit some powerful kills at downward angles to put Fife back in front. A couple of easy aces gave the Trojans a 23-17 lead. Baugh brought NK back with a spike and a block, and Brockett scored an ace of her own, but Linden again salted the game away with a kill to end the set.

Despite a block by Allen and a spike by Brockett, Fife took a 9-4 lead in the third set. A spike by Pryde and an ace by Brockett brought the Vikings to within 10-9. After the Trojans went back in front, a spike and block by Phillips and an ace by Pryde kept it close at 13-12. In a long point, with NK coming up with two amazing saves, Baugh ended it with a push shot to the open court to make it 17-13. But instead of firing them up, they seemed to run out of gas. The Trojans easily took it from there, with two kills and a block by Linden. She actually finished the game appropriately with another successful block.

Viking Mary Allen (6) strikes a kill against Fife.

Viking Mary Allen (6) strikes a kill against Fife.