POULSBO — The Vikings are halfway through their double round robin Olympic League schedule and so far the results have been resoundingly positive.
North Kitsap hasn’t dropped a set in six league matches, including last Thursday’s three-set sweep of previously-unbeaten North Mason and a commanding performance against Bremerton on Monday night that improved the team’s league record to 6-0 and 7-1 overall.
“We managed to make our way through the first half unscathed, which is important,” said North Kitsap head coach Tim French. “The second time through is a lot tougher.”
The much-improved Bulldogs gave them all they could handle, but the Vikings prevailed 25-15, 25-17, 25-23. To finish off the first half, they took on Bremerton and were generally in control of the match, winning the three sets 25-16, 25-12, 25-8.
Set one against Bremerton gave the home crowd a good look at North Kitsap’s offensive talent as the team attacked the net from every angle. Freshman Sophia Baugh opened the set with a sharp kill and junior outside hitter Riley Rabedeaux sparked an 11-4 run that included two aces by Noelani Barreith and another two by Gaines. Freshman Maddie Byrd also picked up two kills from her middle blocker position.
“We’ve got good potential, when we play well we’re pretty hard to beat,” French said.
The varsity team’s three freshmen — Pryde, Gaines and Sophia Baugh — have played like veterans thus far, bolstering an already talented team that has all-state players Rabedeaux and Barreith, and solid all-around players in Joslyn Leage, Autumn Carver, Sydney Mahitka and Emma Orness.
Baugh serves as a setter, but can hit as well, while Pryde and Gaines both play middle blocker and bring plenty of athleticism and skill to the table. With
“We ask them to come along,” French said. “We don’t change much, they have to hop on board and figure it out as fast as they can and they’re doing that.”
They struggled to pull away in set two until Barreith went up and blocked a Knights kill attempt. That point sent the Vikings on a 13-3 run that carried them to victory.
In the final set, Baugh and Pryde both had two kills and an ace, and Rabedeaux picked up two more kills while Carver kept the Knights off balance as the server during a 12-1 run.
The Vikings weren’t perfect against Bremerton — there were a few defensive lapses and hitting mistakes that will prove to be more costly come playoff time. But even the second trip through the league schedule should provide them with plenty of challenges.
“The parity is right there on any given night,” French said. “You have to be ready to go.”
— Mark Krulish is a reporter for Kitsap News Group. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @MKrulishKDN.