Riley Rabedeaux knocks down one of her 14 kills against South Kitsap. (Mark Krulish/Kitsap News Group)

Riley Rabedeaux knocks down one of her 14 kills against South Kitsap. (Mark Krulish/Kitsap News Group)

With a few new faces, Vikings eye seventh straight league title

PORT ORCHARD — It might sound funny to say this about a program that has won six consecutive league championships, but North Kitsap could sneak up on some teams this season.

At first glance, the Vikings roster looks a little short on experience. Teams tend to salivate anytime one third of a varsity lineup consists of freshmen, even with three seniors and three juniors also in the fold.

The returners are plenty talented. Riley Rabedeaux and Noelani Barreith were both first-team all-league players and all-state honorable mention last season, and for good reason. Rabedeaux is arguably the best hitter in the West Sound and Barreith can play any position on the court at a high level, allowing the coaching staff the flexibility in moving players around. Junior Autumn Carver has a wicked serve and is also an excellent defender and senior Joslyn Leage makes the offense hum as the team’s setter.

Senior right side hitter Sydney Mahitka and junior defender Emma Orness also had part-time roles last season and should be in line for more court time.

But the Vikings also have three impressive-looking freshmen in Maddie Pryde, Emma Gaines and Sophia Baugh as well, and their maturation could help this team fly even higher. Pryde and Gaines both play the middle while Baugh is a setter.

“We’re really lucky because they’re super talented,” Rabedeaux said. “I think that’s going to be one of our strengths this year.”

It’s tough for a freshman to come in and play a prominent role on a team with such a successful recent history, and Rabedeaux herself knows that all too well. She stepped into a scoring role in her freshman year on a talented team laden with veteran leaders such as Olivia Selembo, Eunice Moran, Rae Rosenquist, Juliana Benson, Erin Pearson and Tori Carver, which made the transition an easy one.

“Everyone is so nice and supportive, you fit right in,” Rabedeaux said.

North Kitsap opened the season with a 3-0 victory over Kingston last Thursday and then swept South Kitsap on Tuesday night, 25-7, 25-14, 25-15. Rabedeaux led the offense with 14 kills and Carver had four aces.

The team was firing on all cylinders — the defense was tenacious, passing was crisp, hitters weren’t afraid to pound the ball into the floor and Barreith noted the blocking had improved from earlier in the season.

It was also the first coaching victory in a regular season match at North Kitsap for assistant coach Kaelea Makaiwi as she filled in for head coach Tim French, who missed the match due to a personal commitment. Makaiwi, once a head coach at Olympic College, has occasionally stepped in during regular season weekend tournaments, which don’t count in the official standings.

Makaiwi coached the team this past weekend in a tournament at the Yakima SunDome, where the Vikings gained additional confidence from getting to play against some of the state’s best teams. North Kitsap even split two sets with Richland, which finished second in the 4A state tournament last season.

“We took that dub to heart because we hung in there with a 4A school,” Barreith said.

The Vikings finally get to dive into the heart of their league schedule next week, beginning with an away match at Sequim on Tuesday, as they begin their quest for a seventh-consecutive league crown.

— Mark Krulish is a reporter for Kitsap News Group. He can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @MKrulishKDN.

More in Sports

WIAA moves winter season to Feb. 1

Virus activities continue to trend upward all across Washington state and COVID-19… Continue reading

Courtesy photoMegan Hyte, a former Poulsbo resident and North Kitsap soccer star, is giving back to her old club, Kitsap Alliance, through her 110 brand and fundraising platform.
Former NK soccer star gives back to her old club team

In order to find the right path in life, Megan Hyte first… Continue reading

Mark Krulish | Bainbridge Island ReviewKingston resident Jon Claymore is hoping to win the World Masters Virtual Challenge javelin competition in his age group.
Kingston’s Claymore has top World Masters Virtual Challenge javelin mark so far

At 55 years old, after millions of throws and thousands of competitions,… Continue reading

WIAA has new return-to-play guidelines based on county benchmarks

New return-to-play guidelines tied to Kitsap County benchmarks rather than the governor’s… Continue reading

No asterisks needed as championships still deserved

COVID-19 has changed many things in the sports world. Major League Baseball… Continue reading

Extracurricular activities will likely be on hold as long as most school districts remain in remote learning. Review file photo
WIAA releases next steps for return to play

There has been a groundswell of support for fall athletes returning to… Continue reading

Virgil Taylor celebrates with his son, David, who served as the bat boy for North Kitsap’s 1988 state championship team. (Contributed photo by the Taylor Family)
N. Kitsap coaching legend dies at age 80

He’s been a fixture at prep baseball, football games

Contributed photo                                Virgil and his wife, DiAnn, who were together for 63 years and married for nearly 58.
N. Kitsap coaching legend dies at age 80

He was a longtime fixture at high school baseball, football games

Bainbridge running back Alex Ledbetter tries to break away from the pile during the Spartans’ 2018 opener against North Kitsap. (File photo)
A look back at some great Week 1 local prep gridiron games

Under normal circumstances, tonight fans would have gathered at high school stadiums… Continue reading

“Strong Like Her” features American powerlifter Megan Gallagher on the cover.
Kitsap native Haley Shapley features strong women in “Strong Like Her”

Says it’s OK to have muscles if you’re female

Cross country was one of the few remaining sports that had a chance to compete this fall until the decision was made to move all fall sports to spring. (Review File Photo)
PREPS: Fall seasons officially pushed to spring 2021

Cross country, boys tennis join girls swim and dive in season 3