Sports

Vikings aren’t the NKOT court

Spikers Jaycee McQuade, left, and Haley Fiddler return a volly last week during tryouts and practice for the North Kitsap Volleyball team. - Brad Camp/Staff photo
Spikers Jaycee McQuade, left, and Haley Fiddler return a volly last week during tryouts and practice for the North Kitsap Volleyball team.
— image credit: Brad Camp/Staff photo

POULSBO — The Vikings volleyball players might find themselves in a new league, but they definitely won’t be the new kids on the court.

They know they belong, and they’ve got the skills, talent and enthusiasm for just such a statement.

Last Monday 32 female athletes came to the North Kitsap High School courts armed and ready to bump, set, spike and block. It’s a young team with only three seniors.

Head coach Tim French said the group as a whole are hard workers, enthusiastic and more talkative than any other team he’s coached. They’re definitely not going to be the tallest 3A Olympic League team, but what they lack in height they make up for in guts.

“We’re scrappy on defense and our attack will be something to be dealt with,” French said. “This group will play well together. It’s a good mix. They’re ready to let it rip and have some fun.”

Last year the Vike volleyballers narrowly missed advancing to the district tournament, which was a disappointment. This year that’s not going to happen. A new style of play that will better highlight the team’s strengths is being incorporated. The tweaked twist will be placing different talents in the best possible situation to amp up hitting from the outside.

“We’re approaching this year with a lot of confidence. We want to make a strong statement right away,” French said. “The statement is to come out playing very competitively and not tentative at all, showing confidence in our abilities.”

The ultimate goal is to qualify for state, which French said is realistic as long as the Vikes keep the work ethic bar set high throughout the season, and focus on blocking and floor defense in the back.

He said an emphasis throughout the year will be getting the girls to the ball early, playing it consistently and developing strong defense. All that will come in time, with a lot of repetitions at practice and following work ethic examples set by the three senior leaders.

Senior defense specialists Haley Fidler and Alanna Shores and right-side hitter Lindsay Kocker are charged with setting the tone for the team.

“They know what it takes for a team to mesh and play well together,” French said. “They will insist that that happens.”

The Vikings open their season on the road against South Kitsap on Sept. 8. French said the teams are comparable talent-wise, and in the past most of the matches have gone five sets. The game should prove to be a fun and challenging way to start the season.

The Vikes play a string of three games with one day off during the first week of competition. Their first appearance on the home courts is at 6:15 p.m. on Sept. 11 against Central Kitsap.

“They love volleyball. I don’t have to motivate them that way,” French said. “We’re just excited to get to work and put everything together. We’re looking forward to a great season.”

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