POULSBO — In early August, a Herald reporter was in the North Kitsap gymnasium to watch the football team practice indoors. Volleyball player Noelani Barreith entered the gym and the reporter asked how the team was looking this year.
“Really good. We have a new girl from Utah. She’s six feet tall. And left-handed.”
That new girl is Maddie Pruden, and if you were going to design a player North Kitsap needed coming into 2018, she fit it to a T. She is tall, strong, a great hitter and a perfect fit on the team’s right side to complement sophomore hitter Riley Rabedeaux.
She’s also tailor-made for the locker room. On the court, Pruden is focused and quietly intense. But that quickly gives way to a warm, friendly and welcoming demeanor once the match is over.
“She’s so strong. What a treat it’s been to have her on the team,” head coach Tim French said. “And she’s such a great kid — a nice little present for us from Utah.”
Pruden previously attended Salem Hills High School in the Beehive State, but with the acceptance of a scholarship offer to Seattle Pacific University, she and her family moved to Washington a year early to be close by when she heads off to college.
This isn’t her first big move — she spent much of her youth living in Kansas — but Pruden wondered if her arrival would make it difficult to find her place on the team.
Thankfully, those fears were swiftly put to rest.
“Really easy,” Pruden said, describing the transition. “I thought it would be hard to come here so late in the season, but it’s been super easy. I really like the team.”
“The first week I started playing with them, I was already clicking with them.”
She joined a roster loaded with talent. The aforementioned Rabedeaux was an all-league selection as a freshman and is one of the top hitters in the West Sound. Barreith’s athleticism allows her to play exceptionally well at any position on the court, and Taylor Clodfelder and Taylyn Boop are solid middle blockers.
Pruden has had her share of signature moments this season. Pruden had 14 kills in an early season match against Steilacoom, one of the district’s top teams. A powerful spike turned the tide of set three with her team down 2-0. She also took command of a set in a 3-0 win over Kingston in which she closed out the game with four of the final five points on kills.
In all, she has 102 kills on the season, hitting .320, along with 32 blocks.
“You can see it in her confidence level. When it’s high, she’s pretty good,” French said.
Coaches around the state have taken notice of the Vikings. With a win over Port Angeles on Oct. 17, North Kitsap won its sixth Olympic League title in a row and ten out of the last 11. They are also the defending West Central District 3 champions, and are currently ranked No. 1 in a loaded 2A classification by the WSVCA.
— Mark Krulish is a reporter for Kitsap News Group. He can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @MKrulishKDN.