Sports

Vikings “volley” to another impressive win

Senior Lindsay Kocker, left, and junior Toria Messinger form an impenetrable defensive wall against the Spartans. Kocker had an awesome game tallying eight kills and seven digs.  - Tara Lemm/Staff Photo
Senior Lindsay Kocker, left, and junior Toria Messinger form an impenetrable defensive wall against the Spartans. Kocker had an awesome game tallying eight kills and seven digs.
— image credit: Tara Lemm/Staff Photo

POULSBO — Wow.

They’re not tall, but they’re energetic, spirited and determined, and they sure know how to dominate on the volleyball court.

On Friday at the North Kitsap High courts the Vikings trounced the Bainbridge Island Spartans in three sets, 25-13, 25-17, 25-23.

Not only did the Vikes claim a clean three-set sweep, they did it while lacking three players. Instead of rotating between 12 girls, the Vikes made it happen with nine.

“It was one of the most amazing performances I’ve seen in a long time. I was really impressed with my girls,” head coach Tim French said. “I put girls into situations without a lot of experience and they completely rose to the occasion and made me very proud.”

Among the position stir ups: Erika Bratlien usually plays on the right side and moved to the opposite side, Brittany Everett is a middle-blocker but played back-row defense, Bryana Bohl normally plays back-row defense but moved all around the court and Claire Torstenbo played defense in the back, which isn’t the norm for her.

“It was pretty cool to see them just step right in and make some positive plays all over the place,” French said. “It’s nice to have a team I can interchange like that.”

From the stands one never would’ve guessed North was down three players and being creative with position placements, as it seized the game on the second serve, and pulled ahead on serve No. 3. The Vikes only let its lead slip once, for a few minutes at the start of set three.

Several times throughout the sets the Vikings and Spartans challenged one another with long, dizzying volleys. But more often than not the play ended in a Sarah Baugh kill or Lindsay Kocker block/tipover at the net.

“They started at a very high level with few mistakes and it continued through out the match,” French said. “Lindsay had a good all-around game for sure. She’s risen to another level. Sarah’s amazing. She has endless energy. She’s got the entire package and driven to be as good as she can be.”

North also played its style: simple and basic, keeping its mental game sharp and making very few unforced errors, which was evidenced in its serving capabilities.

French said heading into the non-league match the Vikings’ goal was to achieve a 90 percent service success rate. They served at 91 percent.

In the second set junior No. 14 Jordan Denning opened with a string of eight on-target serves, as the crowd said, “Fourteen’s on a roll.”

In total Denning completed 18 of 18 perfect service efforts.

“Our serving was much better, which really makes a difference,” French said. “The team that makes the most unforced errors loses the match and we really cut down on those.”

The one time North lost a little bit of its cool was at the start of set three. The Spartans opened with more strength and this put North on the scramble. Instead of playing Viking ball, North started to try too hard, to hit too perfectly and too precisely, which caused some errors. It took the Vikings 21 plays to regain the lead, 11-10.

But then it was back to Viking ball as usual.

“They were still working extremely hard, I never saw the effort level let up and to me that’s why we won the match,” French said. “We just kept plugging away.”

On Tuesday the Vikings, 11-2, traveled to Sequim. Results of the game weren’t available at press time. Tomorrow the Vikes host the Kingston Buccaneers, match starts at 6:15 p.m.

Stats: Sarah Baugh, 14 kills and 10 assists; Jordan Denning, 18/18 serving and 14 assists; Lindsay Kocker, eight kills and seven digs; Erika Bratlien, seven kills and Bryana Bohl, 12/13 serving and eight digs.

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