While visions of spikes, bumps and sets danced in their heads

OC sophomore Brooke Sparling, seen working on a hitting drill at Wednesday’s practice, is back for her second season with the Rangers on a team that features seven freshmen. - Photo by Jesse Beals
OC sophomore Brooke Sparling, seen working on a hitting drill at Wednesday’s practice, is back for her second season with the Rangers on a team that features seven freshmen.
— image credit: Photo by Jesse Beals

“No errors,” said Olympic College assistant volleyball coach Carl Pech to a circle of perspiring players. “If the ball hits the floor you do 10 push ups.”

Pech, a sidekick to coach and local volleyball guru Tobie Moore, is a new face on the team’s sidelines this year. He is already popular among the 10 players because of his extensive playing experience — including nine years on the professional beach volleyball tour — as well as his disciplined teaching method.

“It is amazing when you have consequences how much fewer mistakes are made,” he said, while watching a drill in which the team “bumped,” or hit the ball with a clenched grip back.

Some of the paired-up girls kept the ball in the air for 20 or 30 rallies, while they memorized their form.

Sometimes they would all get together and yell a cheer like “Intensity!” or “OC!”

According to Moore, as well as several sophomores on the squad, the team is drastically more harmonious than last year since most of the newcomers are coming direct from Moore’s Kitsap Juniors Volleyball Club 18U team which saw plenty of success last season.

The cliques that viciously divided the girls are gone.

The smiles are up, the intensity is focused.

“We have a lot more talented depth this year,” Moore said.

Although the Rangers failed to win a league game last year, Moore said this year’s squad is the fruition of three years of recruiting, club ball and summer play.

“This team’s a lot more confident,” she said. “This team has a lot more leadership than last year.”

Brooke Spalding is one of three returning players from last year alongside Corie Simons and Anna Baldy. She has never been so excited to play volleyball as the Rangers start their season.

“Last year we had such a bad season,” she said. “We couldn’t figure out what was wrong. Now we have several new girls and they all bring so much to the team.”

One standout is the hard cracking, accurate-as-a-sniper, hitter and setter Katie Bostwick. Although much of OC’s squad hails from Central Kitsap, Olympic and North Kitsap high schools, Bostwick refers to herself as an exchange student, because she spent all summer making the three-hour commute from across the water.

She graduated from Eastlake High School and has played volleyball with a passion for 11 years before moving here to attend OC this fall.

“I have played other sports but I just kept coming back to volleyball,” said the 5-foot-10 Bostwick.

This year, the Rangers want everything in their practice to mirror what happens in the matches. Instead of just warming up for the sake of getting their body loose, Pech said the team has focused on technique at all times.

“We want to train them so everything they do, including the warmup, has much more application to the match.”

As Moore spent a recent practice running around, taking care of logistics concerns for the team, Pech ran the team through a series of drills. He reminded them not to talk and focus on what they each individually need to work on.

Even though the Rangers’ season will be chalk-full of the same tough competition as last year, the team is hoping to stomp out the demons that plagued their 0-12 2002 campaign, and pack the Bremer Student Center Gym again, just like they did on their way to the regional tournament in 2001.

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