NK spikes Kingston in battle of top teams

North Kitsap and Kingston finished first in their respective Olympic League divisions, so it seemed only natural for the season to end with the two inter-district rivals going head-to-head.

The Saturday evening match saw the Vikings walk away with a 3-0 victory over the Bucs. The first two sets were closely contested with North Kitsap taking them 25-16 and 25-18; but the Vikings dominated the finale set, 25-9, with a tidal wave of strong serving, hitting and defense.

“To end like that, that last game in particular, was everything that we had hoped it to be,” NK coach Kaelea Makaiwi said.

Perhaps still feeling the sting of last week’s loss to Central Kitsap, their only defeat of the season, the Vikings looked as sharp as ever on their home court.

Riley Rabedeaux had four early kills, including one that broke a 3-3 deadlock in set one. Lillian Pruden also had a kill in a run that gave North Kitsap a 9-4 lead. Later, a Rabedeaux ace sent her team off on another long run that included three kills from Ellyssa Fultz and one each from Pruden, Rabedeaux and Maddie Pryde. When the dust cleared, the score was 18-9.

Kingston started a slow comeback with Suzanne Skinner and Kate McCabe picking up kills, followed by a pair of aces from Olivia Call. But Rabedeaux turned the tide with two more kills and NK took the set.

“I was not going to have that happen again, definitely,” Rabedeaux said.

Marion Stejer and Morgan Halady led Kingston to an early lead in set two, each picking up a kill and a block. Stejer’s second kill of the set gave the Bucs a 6-3 lead, but Rabedeaux and Marin Bruce each scored a kill to tie the match at 6. The teams went back and forth for much of the set until Rabedeaux picked up a big kill to start a 5-0 run that gave the Vikings a 20-15 lead. Bruce had a block and a kill during that run, and Emma Stephens recorded an ace.

Late in the set, Rabedeaux scored another of her five aces and setter Sophia Baugh closed it out with a well-timed, surprise hit over the net that landed clean on the floor.

The Vikings never let Kingston get any momentum in the third set. A 2-2 score quickly turned into 10-2 thanks to kills from Rabedeaux and Pryde. Mary Allen added two more kills, and Rabedeaux picked up her final two aces as NK cruised to victory.

Two special seniors

Two of the West Sound’s top players over the past four years — North Kitsap’s Rabedeaux and Kingston’s Halady – played their final prep games.

Rabedeaux will head to the Mountain West to plays for Adams State University in Colorado, a Division-II school in the Rocky Mountain Conference. The 5-foot-10-inch senior was a constant presence at her opposite hitter position, a strong spiker with a blend of power and precision.

A four-year starter, she recorded 231 kills as a freshman and improved to 437 in her sophomore year and 400 her junior year. Rabedeaux was also a fierce defensive player with 407 digs as a sophomore and 468 as a junior. Her teams made to three 2A state tournaments and captured a West Central District 3 championship in 2017.

“I think I’m ready,” Rabedeaux said. “It’s been a really great four years, and I’m grateful for that. But I’m ready to move on and go play a whole new level of volleyball.”

Over the past several years, Kingston has rarely lost to teams not named North Kitsap, and Halady has been a big part of that success. Also a four-year varsity player, Halady has been the program’s — and the league’s — premier middle blocker, who uses her commanding 6-foot-1 frame and jumping ability to get in front of any offensive player’s shot.

Halady said she’s still in the recruitment process, which has fluctuated due to the COVID-19 pandemic. She said she had been looking at schools in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference as well as some smaller Division 1 schools.

Halady had 265 kills her sophomore year to go along with 43 blocks. As a junior, she had 265 kills and 60 blocks as well as 30.9 hitting percentage. Kingston qualified for state twice in her career and fell just one game short of a third appearance in 2019.

“Just being able to play on the varsity level for four years has been an amazing process,” Halady said, “and I’ve been able to play with a lot of amazing girls and take different things from each of the girls I’ve played with. Each season, I’ve been grateful that I’ve been able to bring something to the table, and that’s what I focus on as a player, doing as much as I can for my team.”

Kingston’s Marion Stejer tries to put a shot past North Kitsap’s Maddie Pryde (11). (Mark Krulish/Kitsap News Group)

Kingston’s Marion Stejer tries to put a shot past North Kitsap’s Maddie Pryde (11). (Mark Krulish/Kitsap News Group)

Kingston’s Nizhoni Price tries to get in the way of Riley Rabedeaux’s spike. (Mark Krulish/Kitsap News Group)

Kingston’s Nizhoni Price tries to get in the way of Riley Rabedeaux’s spike. (Mark Krulish/Kitsap News Group)