Buccaneer volleyball team eager to prove itself

The Kingston High volleyball team starts the season Sept. 11. - Brian J. Olson/Staff photo
The Kingston High volleyball team starts the season Sept. 11.
— image credit: Brian J. Olson/Staff photo

KINGSTON — Andrea Johnson’s first year on the Kingston High volleyball team was a little rough by any standards.

The Buccaneers won one game in 2009, the year Johnson transferred from Gig Harbor High School. Since then, the Bucs have undergone a nearly complete transformation. Six players graduated, leaving a crop of young athletes — led by Johnson, the only senior — to fill the void.

“We all have a lot to make up for from last year,” Johnson said. “It’s going to be a challenge.”

Only three players from last year’s varsity squad will return this year. Johnson is joined by her sister, Andrea, and Sydney Halady, both sophomores and veterans of the team.

The majority of the team is made up of juniors with junior varsity experience, but little playing time at the varsity level. Head coach Lacey Menne, entering her third year at the team’s helm, believes the Bucs are strong in spite of their inexperience.

“The JV team that moved up from last year is really incredible,” Menne said. “They were very, very successful as a JV team last year. I expect they’ll be doing the same (this year).”

One key for the Bucs is the team’s ability to communicate and work as a cohesive unit.

“We have stronger communication,” Johnson said. “Since we can work as a team ... we’ll be more successful on the court.”

Most of this year’s athletes have played together in the past. Many are also close to the same age, as sophomores and juniors, giving them an advantage over last season’s squad. Last year’s team included mostly seniors and freshmen, and the age gap was apparent.

“It’s tough to make freshmen and seniors get along, because they have such a different view on high school,” Menne said.

Height was also an issue in 2009. Only two players topped 5-foot-9, while the rest stood at or below 5-foot-5, Menne said.

“It’s really hard to build a team like that,” Menne said.

This year, the Bucs have a few players in the 5-and-a-half-foot range, and two newcomers who measure 5-foot-10. Kiani Clissold, a freshman middle blocker from Quilcene, adds size and club experience to the front row. Brooke Haag, a sophomore outside hitter from California, will be another new threat.

The revamped Buccaneer volleyball squad will have its first chance to prove itself Saturday, Sept. 11, at home against Chimacum High School. First serve is at 1:45 p.m.

Players know that after last year’s disappointment, they’ll have to work hard to earn respect.

“It’s going to take a bit of convincing to show people that we can persevere from last year,” Johnson said.

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