POULSBO — There are still many matches left to be played, but North Kitsap has staked itself to an early advantage in the race to the top of the Olympic 2A League.
The Vikings took on Bremerton at North Kitsap High School on Sept. 14, and swept the contest in straight sets, 25-10, 25-12, 25-18, beating the only other previously undefeated team.
The victory moves North Kitsap to 2-0 in league play on the young season — 3-0 overall — ahead of one-loss squads Bremerton, North Mason and Sequim.
“It definitely boosts our confidence, but we try to stay humble and go our hardest every second of every game,” said senior hitter Erin Pearson.
Bremerton, which was mostly without the services of two of its top players in the first set, fell behind the Vikings quickly and could not recover.
North Kitsap jumped out to a 9-0 lead in that set, fueled in part by the first of Noey Barreith’s four aces and a kill from Pearson, and built on that momentum with consecutive aces from Autumn Carver to win easily, 25-10.
“We definitely weren’t taking them for granted,” said North Kitsap head coach Tim French. “We knew they had a good 1-2 and have a strong program, their coach is doing a really good job, so we needed that.
“We needed a test and we passed, but we can do better.”
A full-strength Knights squad gave the Vikings much more of a battle in the final two sets. Bremerton crawled out of an early 4-1 hole in set two on the strength of two aces from Joleen Quitugua, which knotted the set at 5. But North Kitsap reclaimed the lead on kills by Barreith and freshman Riley Babedeaux, both set up by Rae Rosenquist, who finished with 20 assists.
The two teams went down to the wire in the third set. Bremerton took a 5-2 lead on a kill by Lily Gelhaus, who recorded four in the final set, as the Knights rounded into form. But a kill by Eunice Moran and an ace from Tori Carver helped North Kitsap climb back into the game.
The set went the way of the Vikings after another kill from Pearson and an ace from Barreith as North Kitsap took a 14-12 lead and kept it just out of Bremerton’s reach to complete the sweep.
“I think we came in with the right mindset,” said French. “But sometimes when it goes your way pretty easily early in the match, you tend to expect it to continue that way and that’s the challenge — play every ball like it’s the most important one ever.”
— Mark Krulish is a reporter for Kitsap News Group. He can be reached at email@example.com.