Riley Knapp led Central Kitsap with 12 kills in a home-opener win over Timberline. (Mark Krulish/Kitsap News Group)

Riley Knapp led Central Kitsap with 12 kills in a home-opener win over Timberline. (Mark Krulish/Kitsap News Group)

Central Kitsap sweeps Timberline in home-opener at brand new gym

SILVERDALE — Take an emotional five-set win over Gig Harbor in their previous match, add in the fact that Thursday night served as the Cougars’ home-opener in a shiny new gym and you have the recipe for a team that may come out a little too amped up.

But Central Kitsap regrouped quickly and erased Timberline’s 12-9 set one lead and ultimately swept the Blazers, 25-20, 25-20, 25-12 to improve to 2-1 on the season.

Senior hitter Riley Knapp led what should be a very potent offense this season with 12 kills.

“I think we came out a little too cocky and Timberline got stronger since the last time we saw them,” Knapp said. “But overall we progressed over the match and it started to click.”

There were a few bumps in the road. Their passing and serve receive struggled at times, but when it finally clicked the offense proved unstoppable. Knapp blasted a kill in the first set to open a 17-15 lead and that was followed by two aces from Reegan Stark. That sequence helped the Cougars pull away in set one.

“She’s a little pistol,” head coach Rebecca Arthur said of Knapp. “She’s the heart, she keeps them going.”

Stark herself was a menace at middle blocker, throwing up hazards left and right that stymied the Timberline offense. Stark finished with 8 blocks and three kills in the match, teaming with sophomore middle blocker Camryn Lingenbrink (four blocks, three kills) to keep the Blazers off-balance.

Knapp, Stark and Natalie and Maggie Cole are the only four seniors on the roster, but Arthur said they have set the tone with the way they show up ready to practice and prepare.

“It’s good leadership,” Arthur said. “And I think you see that on the court.”

Everything came together in the third set as the Cougars got out to a 12-3 start and scoring 15 of their 25 points on kills. Their first passes were much crisper, allowing junior setter Keahi Sarono to put the ball on a tee for her hitters. Sarono finished the match with 21 assists to go along with three service aces and four kills.

“Keahi is doing a great job getting the ball to our hitters,” Arthur said. “That’s coach [Katie] Pasi, our new coach, who has been working with her on decision making.”

Central Kitsap never allowed Timberline back into the set, answering each point with a mini run. Knapp added one last kill to give her team a 23-12 lead and then Lingenbrink finished off the match with a kill and a block.

The Cougars have passed some tough early season tests, but the always talented Tides and the much-improved Blazers offered only a taste of what’s to come. There are no nights off on the volleyball court in the South Sound Conference. Their only loss this season is to Capital, which finished third in the 3A state tournament last season.

“This is the toughest conference top to bottom that I think any school can play in,” Arthur said. “They are no truly weak teams. There is not a big drop off between No. 1 and No. 7.”

—Mark Krulish is a reporter for Kitsap News Group. He can be reached at mkrulish@soundpublishing.com. Follow him on Twitter @MKrulishKDN.

Keahi Sarono sets up a serve against the Blazers. Sarono had three services aces as well as 21 assists and four kills. (Mark Krulish/Kitsap News Group)

Keahi Sarono sets up a serve against the Blazers. Sarono had three services aces as well as 21 assists and four kills. (Mark Krulish/Kitsap News Group)

Kira Pittman digs out a ball for Central Kitsap. (Mark Krulish/Kitsap News Group)

Kira Pittman digs out a ball for Central Kitsap. (Mark Krulish/Kitsap News Group)

More in Sports

WIAA delays start of football season to Sept. 5

The WIAA Executive Board voted this month to delay the start of… Continue reading

Seattle to Portland bike ride goes virtual

Although the Northwest cycling season was effectively stopped short after February’s Chilly… Continue reading

Putting in the miles: routes to help you complete your virtual summer races

Normally at this time of year, racing season for professionals, amateurs and… Continue reading

WIAA approves seeding committees for all team sports beginning in the fall

The WIAA began an experiment two years ago when it approved the… Continue reading

Bremerton junior Te’Caela Wilcher is one of two remaining members of the two-time defending 2A 4x100 relay champions. (Mark Krulish/Kitsap News Group)
Krulish: What the spring sports season might have brought us

It’s early May, and the high school sports scene in Kitsap is… Continue reading

Kingston Rotary postpones June golf tournament

The Kingston North Kitsap Rotary Club has postponed its annual Swing for… Continue reading

North Olympic Discovery Marathon cancels June 7 race, goes virtual

The Olympic Peninsula race sees plenty of participation from runners in Kitsap County

The spring sports season has been canceled due to the COVID-19 outbreak

The announcement yesterday from Gov. Jay Inslee that traditional, on-site education would… Continue reading

WIAA: spring sports could be held if schools return by May 4

Although the prospect of a spring sports season looks bleak, the WIAA… Continue reading

Seattle sports teams and major event organizers issue public plea: Stay home

When the Seahawks, Mariners, Sounders FC and Storm speak, will fans heed… Continue reading

North Kitsap’s Kobe McMillian was one of three Vikings name to the AP’s 2A All-State team. McMillian and Jonas La Tour were first-team selections and Shaa Humphrey was an Honorable Mention. (Mark Krulish/Kitsap News Group)
Three Vikings named to Associated Press All-State teams

Sportswriters and editors from the Associated Press have selected three Vikings for… Continue reading

Like all others around Kitsap, North Kitsap High School’s baseball field has no activity in its future. (Mark Krulish/Kitsap News Group)
Local athletic fields left empty as schools shutter for weeks

At a time when Kitsap County athletic fields should be beehives of… Continue reading