LACEY — Although neither North Kitsap nor Kingston came away with any hardware at the state volleyball tournament, which took place Nov. 10-11 at St. Martins University, both teams turned in successful seasons.
For the second year in a row, North Kitsap ended up with a tough first round matchup against a team that would go on to make the finals. This year, it was Lynden, which defeated the Vikings 25-14, 25-21, 25-20.
Moving to the left side of the bracket placed them against traditional powerhouse Tumwater, a rematch of the 2014 2A state finals. After looking “a little lethargic and a little intimidated,” according to head coach Tim French, against Lynden, North Kitsap rebounded and swept Tumwater, 25-22, 26-24, 25 16.
“I was very proud of this win,” said French. “A true team effort.”
Their run ended early the next morning against eventual sixth place winner East Valley out of Spokane. French said his team had leads late in sets one and four, but could not seem to win crucial rallies at critical times. East Valley won 26-24, 18-25, 25-18, 25-23.
But the season was a rousing success for the Vikings. They went undefeated in league play, losing only one set, and their only loss during the regular season came against 3A Bainbridge. They also swept Franklin Pierce, Kingston and Fife on their way to North Kitsap’s first district championship since 2014.
“I’m so proud of this year’s team and their success,” said French. “We were league champs and district champs! We always competed at a very high level and did it the right way with class, dignity and together as a volleyball family.”
North Kitsap will need to replace seven players heading into next season, though there are still plenty of talented underclassmen on the roster. Graduating this year are Amalia Barreith, Erin Pearson, Tori Carver, Olivia Selembo — known to many as “Viva” — Rae Rosenquist, Juliana Benson and Eunice Moran.
“Our seniors led the way and will be missed more than they know,” French concluded.
Kingston had an even tougher first round matchup, losing in three sets to this year’s 2A state champion Burlington-Edison, and then falling to Selah, which finished tied for 11th, in the second round.
However, head coach Ed Call said this volleyball season was the most successful in the school’s brief history. With a 7-5 league record and third place regular season finish, four of those losses came against North Kitsap and Bremerton. And Kingston was able to defeat Bremerton when it mattered most — at the Olympic League Championship tournament, which allowed them to move up from third to second for seeding in the district tournament. The Buccaneers also scheduled larger schools such as Bainbridge and South Kitsap, which helped the team prepare for tougher games down the road.
“I find it pretty uplifting that the majority of the teams that we fell to this year are ones that finished ahead of us in the state bracket,” said Call.
At districts, Kingston defeated Highline and Orting before squaring off with North Kitsap. The Buccaneers finished fourth after losing to White River in the third place game, a team that ended up finishing fourth in the state tournament.
The Buccaneers will lose seven seniors, including outside hitter Jane Hermanson, libero Ryley Tellinghuisen, setter Cece Mercado, Natalie Barringer-Mullins, Grace Baze, Alyssa Duckworth and Lauren Gunnell. But the team will also return key players such as leading hitter Ava McCabe, Morgan Halady, Sam Young and Melanie Borson.
“A fair number of my players who will return have already begun their club tryout process and I’m excited to see what we can do in the offseason that might help us clean up our play in league and maybe give us the opportunity to find some very good success again next year,” said Call.
— Mark Krulish is a reporter for Kitsap News Group. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.