The North Kitsap volleyball team never forgot about its first loss of the season. It came on Senior Night against Bainbridge as the Spartans outlasted them three sets to two in their home gym.
Even with the Vikings season record sitting at 6-1 after the loss, it seemed as if there was still a reservoir of untapped potential, and North Kitsap coach Kaelea Makaiwi admitted she has had to change the way she’s coached for the past 20 years to get the most out of her team.
“We’ve done a lot of work on teamwork,” Makaiwi said, “really truly believing in what we can do as a team and focusing on that.”
Some positive momentum had been building — after another successful run through the league and facing some tough competition last weekend in the Burlington-Edison invitational, things seem to be coming together.
And on Tuesday night, the Vikings picked up another confidence booster as they defeated Bainbridge three sets to one, 23-25, 25-23, 25-14, 25-23. The two teams finished tied atop the Olympic League, each with a 13-1 record. North Kitsap will take the No. 1 seed in the league tournament while Bainbridge will have to wait around until Nov. 10 for their play-in match for the 3A District 3/4 tournament.
“I’m just proud of them because they’re the ones putting in the work,” Makaiwi said.
Bainbridge’s gym was rocking as they saluted their seniors — Florencia Olivera, Katherine Bouma, Izzy Prentice, Scarlett Bos, Mazzy Thornton, Allie Wildsmith and Cara Reinke — and despite some early adversity, seemed to have the momentum on their side in the first half of the match.
North Kitsap grabbed an early 6-3 lead on two aces from Sophia Baugh and kills from Elle Fultz and Kate Ryan. The Vikings led set one nearly the entire way, but were never really able to put away the Spartans. After Baugh tied the set at 22 with a sneaky shot, Wildsmith answered with a kill, and that was followed by an ace from Bouma. Prentice came up with the last big shot, and the Spartans took the set 25-23.
That positive energy continued into set two as Wildsmith opened with a kill followed by an ace from Rebecca Roman. Bos scored a kill as well as the Spartans opened up a 4-0 lead. But as Bainbridge did in the first set, North Kitsap battled back and stayed close.
Fultz and Mackenzie Phillips each picked up a kill, and Maliyah Reed had a big block as a 6-0 run gave the Vikings a 21-16 lead. Lily Pruden furthered the lead to 24-21, but kills from Wildsmith and Prentice nearly forced the set past 25 points. On the ensuing rally, Bainbridge was called for a double hit, giving North Kitsap the winning point.
The Vikings blew open set three with a 10-4 run as Emma Stephens recorded a pair of aces, and Maddie Pryde picked up two kills. When the dust cleared, they led 19-9 and staved off a strong Spartans attack the rest of the way.
“It’s their Senior Night, and I knew there were going to be a lot of emotions with that going into it,” Bainbridge coach Jen Roman said. “I tried every single lineup; I think everyone got in tonight.”
Set four was another thriller as North Kitsap took a 17-12 lead on a kill from Phillips, but after Roman and Prentice scored for Bainbridge, Pruden and Reed each answered with kills for the Vikings.
It came down to the final few points as Pruden gave her team a 22-19 lead, but Wildsmith scored a kill for Bainbridge to get her team back within two. A pair of kills from Fultz were sandwiched around a service error, and North Kitsap led 24-21. A kill from Prentice and a double-hit called on the Vikings cut it to 24-23, but it wasn’t enough as North Kitsap picked up the final point.
“We love playing them; we respect them,” Roman said, “and they played better than we did tonight, hands down.”
North Kitsap will play the No. 4 seed in the Olympic League tournament Tuesday night at home. The winner of the match and the 2/3 match will play for the No. 1 seed to the district tournament next Thursday.