BREMERTON — One of the hallmarks of a great volleyball team is good on-court communication. The ability of seven players to assess in a split second which player is in the best position to play a ball is one of the keys to consistently winning matches.
It was something with which the Bremerton High School volleyball squad was struggling coming in to its opening game Sept. 7 against in-town rival Olympic – or so they thought.
“Our big problem actually was communication,” junior Lily Gelhaus said. “So coming into this game, our main focus was communication and building off one another.”
But a dominant first set performance led by, among other things, their chatter on the court wound up setting the tone for the Knights’ season as they swept Olympic in three sets at Olympic High School.
“I attribute that to them for working hard,” said Bremerton head coach Sara Todorovich. “It means they’re putting in the effort it takes to be a competitive team and I’m proud of that. I won’t take the glory for that.”
The Knights came out swinging, led by Gelhaus, who racked up five kills in the opening set. A 13-3 lead proved to be far too much to overcome for Olympic, as Bremerton closed out their opponent 25-11.
“We came out with all the energy in the world,” Todorovich said. “The second and third sets, we just talked about how we let down a little bit, but that is not going to happen again.”
The Trojans also settled down as the matched moved forward – a second-set 17-13 deficit was erased in part by a pair of aces from Ashton Mortrud, who finished with four overall, and a kill by Natalie Lindahl.
The young squad also came to its own rescue a second time in that set. Down 24-21, a rally punctuated by a Faith Harer kill tied the set at 24, but Bremerton was able to close out Olympic again on a kill by senior Adia Anderson.
Now 1-2 on the season, Olympic features a starting lineup with three sophomores and a freshman, which means there will be some growing pains. Head coach Keith Peden set a goal for his team before the season to improve three percent every week.
“We came out a little juiced up, a little anxious to play, and I think it showed in that first set,” said Olympic head coach Keith Peden.
Bremerton battled its way through the final set, 25-21.
Junior Alyssa Ronquillo was a difference-maker from Bremerton as she broke a 10-10 tie with a kill followed by a service ace.
Olympic quickly roared back to pull ahead 17-16 later in the set after another ace by Mortrud, but the young squad was not able to hold on to its lead.
Bremerton finally broke the seesaw nature of the set, pulling ahead 23-19 on an ace from Gelhaus to help her team to a 1-0 record.
“I’m excited to watch this team grow,” Todorovich said. “We are still very young, but they are very competitive.”
— Mark Krulish is a reporter for Kitsap News Group. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.