POULSBO — The road to the state volleyball tournament is always a little easier for the holder of the Olympic League crown.
Once again, the victor this year is North Kitsap.
The Vikings defeated Sequim in three sets, 25-20, 25-12, 25-11, and then beat Kingston, 25-14, 25-18, 25-14, in the championship game on Oct. 28.
Winning the league tournament means that North Kitsap is one win away from qualifying for state in some form, and receives a first round bye at districts. The Vikings first match is scheduled for 7 p.m on Nov. 3 against the winner of the game between Washington and Franklin Pierce. A win in that match advances North Kitsap to the semifinals in the winners bracket, where a win gives them a chance to be the No. 1 or 2 seed at state, whereas a loss, puts them in line for the No. 3 or 4 seed.
“It’s so big, getting the No. 1 seed in the district,” said North Kitsap head coach Tim French. “We get the first round bye and are basically one win away from state now, instead of having to do it the hard way. It’s right in front of us now. It’s a big win, the girls know it.”
The Vikings defeated Sequim handily in the early morning match, despite getting off to a slow start. Freshman Riley Rabedeaux was outstanding, leading North Kitsap with 19 kills. Sophomore Noey Barreith added seven kills and 15 digs and senior Erin Pearson also had seven kills. Setter Rae Rosenquist was kept busy, dishing out 40 assists. On the defensive side, Olivia Selembo had six blocks and Eunice Moran added nine digs.
“I thought we played well, but I thought we were a little flat early in the morning against Sequim,” said French. “We didn’t come out the way I was hoping we would, but after that, we got things together and I thought we played well all day.”
On the other side of the bracket, Kingston defeated Bremerton in four sets, a big win that gives the Buccaneers a better path to states at the district tournament.
“By moving up from three to two, we get SPSL 8 in the first round versus SPSL 5,” said head coach Ed Call. “It’s a better first round matchup. It would have been nice to get the first round bye that North has, but to get that bye, you have to beat North. No one’s done it yet.”
After losing the first set, Kingston came away with the next three, though all of them were very closely contested.
Junior Ava McCabe finished the game against Bremerton with 15 kills, and coach Call described her play as “collegiate level.” Jane Hermanson added nine kills and Morgan Halady had six. Cece Mercado registered six aces and McCabe tallied three. Defensively, libeiro Ryley Tellinghuisen picked up 13 digs and Natalie Barringer-Mullins had 11.
The two teams then met in the finals, but North was simply too good to overcome. Barreith led the Vikings with ten kills and seven digs while Selembo added six kills and Juliana Benson had five. Rosenquist racked up 26 assists.
The district tournament will be played at Franklin Pierce High School on Nov. 3 and 4.