For Kingston, it smells like team spirit

What Kingston lacks in size, it makes up for in team spirit.

The No. 14 seeded Bucs beat No. 11 seeded Lindbergh surprisingly easily in three sets before falling in three sets to No. 3 seed Sammamish Nov. 11 in the West Central District 3 Volleyball Tournament at Franklin Pierce High School.

Coach Chris Eaton said his team works together to do whatever it takes to win. “They feed off each other,” he said, adding all it takes is a couple of good plays to provide a spark. “They just don’t stop.

Against Lindbergh, he said they faced one of the best hitters in the tournament in 5-foot-11 senior Olivia Deckard. But they were able to take her out of the game by controlling their possessions and keeping the ball away from Deckard.

For the Bucs, Eaton said setter Sophia Call did a great job of distributing the ball on offense to keep the ball away from Deckard’s ability to block. “We had some quick sets to keep them guessing,” the coach said.

And he said hitter Kylie Sandstrom led the offense.

In their second game of the day, Kingston got off to a slow start, falling 25-6 in the opening set. The Redhawks looked like they did not have any weaknesses in their game, scoring points serving with power, spiking across court, blocking and dinking to open spots, and also keeping the ball in play defensively, covering anything the Bucs threw at them.

Sammamish jumped out to a 9-2 lead in the second set, and it looked like more of the same. But the Bucs slowly fought back and their first ace cut the margin to 15-12. Kingston continued to play much better defense than in the first set, and the Bucs actually took a 19-18 lead after two more aces and a dink. A spike and another dink gave them a 24-23 lead, and they were just a point away from victory, but a critical service error gave the Redhawks the win 26-24.

Kingston actually had a number of untimely service errors in the match, but Eaton said that’s just part of the game because he encourages the team to be aggressive in its serving. “You’re going to miss some,” he said.

Like the previous sets, it looked like the third set might be a runaway as the Redhawks took a 7-1 lead. An ace and a block brought the Bucs back to 7-5, but another service error gave the momentum back to Sammamish. The Redhawks went on another streak to go up 16-8, but an ace brought the Bucs back to within 18-16. An ace and a dink made it 22-21. A block gave Kingston a 25-24 lead and again they were a point away from victory. But another critical service error put the Redhawks back in front, and they took the 28-26 win with a game-ending ace.

As the season ended, Eaton said he’s happy with the way players stepped up to become leaders. “The whole vibe” made it a successful season, he added.

Kingston coach Chris Eaton talks to his team about how to get back into the game.

Kingston coach Chris Eaton talks to his team about how to get back into the game.