North Kitsap was looking to extend its perfect season on Tuesday night and finish as the undisputed No. 1 team in the Olympic League South Division, while Central Kitsap was looking to avenge an early season five set loss and grab a share of the top spot.
And it was the Cougars and their relentless, energetic performance that carried the day in the regular season finalé, picking up the victory in four sets, 20-25, 25-18, 25-19, 25-22.
The Vikings were strong in the first set, but Central Kitsap took control in the second and never looked back. The Cougars had North Kitsap’s defense off-balance and kept finding the open spots on the court to place their shots.
“We had some good digs here and there, but it was in spurts,” NK coach Kaelea Makaiwi said. “When we needed runs, we couldn’t get them, and they did. They had us on the run most of the night.”
The first set turned on a short 4-0 run that started with a kill from Ellyssa Fultz, followed by a kill from Maddie Pryde and a block from Sophia Baugh. The Vikings managed to stay ahead the rest of the way, but outscored CK by just one point over the remainder of the set.
The two teams went point-for-point in set two until a 6-0 run gave CK a 12-6 lead. The Vikings made it interesting late with a 6-1 run thanks to a pair of kills from Riley Rabedeaux and another from Baugh, but Camryn Lingenbrink struck back for CK with a kill to make it 23-17, giving them the momentum to take the set.
Set three looked promising for North Kitsap as a pair of aces from Pryde gave the Vikings a 7-4 lead, but CK ripped off a 9-0 run, which included three kills from Allie Baldridge.
“We needed to answer back and get on our own run, and just couldn’t find it,” Makaiwi said.
The Vikings showed some life late in set four, needing a win to force a decisive fifth set. Trailing 20-17, a kill from Autumn Carver, followed by an ace from Rabedeaux and a great shot from Fultz, tied the set at 20. Rabedeaux struck again with one of her 24 kills to give NK a 22-21 lead, but a kill and then an ace from Carley Wilson broke the deadlock. Baldridge scored two more kills to close out the match.
The Olympic League will wrap up its regular season Saturday with crossover games between the North and South Divisions. North Kitsap will host inter-district rival Kingston at 6 p.m. ”The kids are excited because we didn’t get to play them at all in the regular season,” Makaiwi said.