SK senior Ashlyn Potz hopes to lead her team to the postseason

Three-year starter is a team leader

It’s a wonder that South Kitsap senior Ashlyn Potz doesn’t find herself face down, drained of all energy following her volleyball matches.

Potz is a three-year starter for the Wolves and one of the team’s leaders. Physically, she’s all over the court, diving here and there, constantly putting her body on the line to get in front of a shot. Then she pops right back up and starts handing out words of encouragement to her teammates, facilitating the team’s communication and giving her teammates feedback after each play.

“She’s amazing,” said South Kitsap head coach C.J. Scott. “I feel bad for her, she’s just running all over the place. She works her butt off.”

And when asked about the different positions she plays on the court, one wonders if it might have been faster to ask her where she does not play. Potz is officially listed as a setter, but she can also play outside hitter, right side and in the back row as well.

“She’s a phenomenal kid,” Scott said, “and if we can pass for her, she’s a great setter.”

Playoffs in their sights

South Kitsap is hoping to get back into the playoffs this season, and Potz is a believer in her team. Over her three years, only one other player — junior middle blocker Anna Harvey — has been a fixture on the varsity, so the biggest challenge has been getting everyone on the same page.

“I think we’re a good team, but we need to learn how to play strong together at the same time,” Potz said. “I think we can start winning if we play together.”

Another obstacle is the league in which they play. The South Puget Sound League, with the addition of a 10th team, now gets eight spots in the 4A District 3 tournament. The league is now split into two divisions and the top four teams in each league go to the league and district tournaments. South Kitsap is in a division with Puyallup, Curtis, Bellarmine Prep and Sumner, and will play each of those teams twice and the rest of the league once.

The Wolves did get their first league win out of the way last week when they beat Bethel, three sets to none, and have also lost to always-tough Emerald Ridge. And they also had a good run in their non-league games, taking both Central Kitsap and West Seattle to five sets and beating Lincoln and Kingston.

They played their first inter-division game Monday night against Curtis, and although they showed flashes of the vast potential they have, they struggled far too often in serve-receive, which prevented them from getting on offensive runs against a talented Vikings team that hit the ball hard from every position on the court.

“That’s the root of the problem,” Scott said. “We have girls who can hit, we have a good setter, but if we can’t pass against these teams, you can’t just pitty-pat it over against these teams. It just doesn’t work.”

Against the better teams, finding a way to defend against those high-powered offenses will be the key to staying in those matches and eventually turning them into wins and getting back to the playoffs.

“We’re working on our connection, which is getting better,” Potz said. “I think we can go head-to-head with these teams.”

Ashlyn Potz is South Kitsap’s setter, but she’s capable of playing any position on the court. (Mark Krulish/Kitsap News Group)

Ashlyn Potz is South Kitsap’s setter, but she’s capable of playing any position on the court. (Mark Krulish/Kitsap News Group)