The Vikings handed North Mason its first Olympic League loss, 3-0, and takes over first place
POULSBO — In a volleyball battle of King of the Hill, the classic children’s game where players attempt to knock the king off the top of the pile, the North Kitsap Vikings kept their crown.
Upstart North Mason went into the match with a 5-0 record in the Olympic League but couldn’t equal the firepower and blocking by the Vikings who took possession of first place with a 3-0 win over the Bulldogs (5-1 overall, 5-2 OL). Game scores were 25-13, 25-17, 25-23.
North Kitsap now sits at 5-0 (6-1 overall) and is in the proverbial driver’s seat for the race to the regular-season finish line.
North Kitsap freshman middle Maddie Pryde said the team worked on keeping serves in and mistakes to a minimum and both were factors in the win.
“I think that was a big impact,” she said. “It’s fun to play teams just as good or harder because it brings a lot of adrenaline and it’s so fun to play.”
“Those are the types of matches that you … that’s why you coach, that’s why you train, to see how you match up,” NK coach Tim French said. “Let’s play the best volleyball we know how to play, be the best teammate you know how to be and see how it shakes out. That’s all you can do. I thought we did that for the most part.”
The Vikings took control of the first set after North Mason kept the score close early and went on a 8-2 run to lead 17-11 before the Bulldogs took a timeout. It didn’t help. North Kitsap went up 21-12 on a kill by outside hitter Riley Rabedeaux. Rabedeaux added three more attacks with the last coming on set point as the junior found her hitting groove.
After getting an ace on the opening serve in the second set, North Mason didn’t see the lead again until the Bulldogs went up 7-6. Two points later, they forced the Vikings to take a timeout to talk things through. NK worked itself back into the game with some deftly placed hits, and critical errors by North Mason, and pulled away to a 16-11 lead. The Bulldogs started to look out of place and struggled with serve receive and hitting errors. A timely tip over the net by NK freshman setter Sophia Baugh at set point put the Vikings up 2-0 in the match.
“North Kitsap is such a strong competitor,” North Mason coach Kanoe Lilly said, “and has been for many years. I think we played well but it took us a while to muster up that belief.”
Uncharacteristic service errors plagued the Bulldogs in all three sets and led to momentum-killing runs for NK.
“That’s not normal,” Lilly said of the errors. “I think again, a service error is all about that mental strength and they’re trying so hard to play so well.”
North Mason’s biggest roadblock was itself, Hannah Fredrickson said.
“We have the ability,” she said.
Rebekah Fredrickson added NM needs to get back to a stronger belief in winning the big games against quality opponents and stay calm in stressful moments.
The third set stayed close in the beginning with North Kitsap leading 15-10. A long rally ended with NM outside Hallie Hicks’ well-placed point that started to change the momentum in favor of the Bulldogs. Still down 17-14, North Mason got the ball back on a kill by outside hitter Hannah Fredrickson that put her on the back line and into the service rotation. Fredrickson helped lead the Bulldogs into the match as they rallied to go on top 22-18 before NK called a timeout.
“She definitely reads the court very well,” Pryde said of Hannah Fredrickson. “And the passer, (Rebekah Fredrickson, NM’s libero) oh my gosh, she’s amazing. And she’s everywhere.”
French knew Rebekah Fredrickson “was crazy good, and she was,” and had the game plan of trying to keep the ball away from her. “We knew their four defense was going to be very good with her in there, and everyone was scrappy and they have the big middle (Morgan Shumaker) we saw a couple times she could crank it.”
Both teams traded points before a hitting error by North Mason gave the point, and the ball, back to NK, 23-20. Another hitting error by NM made it 23-21 and a block by NK senior Noey Barreith forced a timeout by North Mason with NK closing, 23-22.
On the next point, a short set by Baugh to fellow freshman Emma Gaines. Gaines’ wisely-placed tip caught NM’s defense out of place and tied the set at 23-23.
Barreith followed with a decisive kill to the sideline and the Vikings were back at match point, 24-23. A long rally ended when NK’s Joslyn Leage set to libero Autumn Carver whose hit from mid-court scrapped the top of the net but carried over and past NM’s defense.
French said the late-set comeback speaks volumes about his team.
“Gutsy, never-give-up, fighters. The freshmen, they played so well tonight,” he said. “My two middles (Emma Gaines, Pryde) didn’t play like freshmen. It tells me we always have a chance.”