Bremerton volleyball: Big turnout helps rebuilding effort

Bremerton’s Stephanie Himmelsbach sets up the ball against Sequim in a game last season. - Jesse Beals/file photo 2007
Bremerton’s Stephanie Himmelsbach sets up the ball against Sequim in a game last season.
— image credit: Jesse Beals/file photo 2007

Usually, when a coach sees seven seniors graduate from a roster of 12, there’s some cause for concern. And while the Bremerton volleyball team did graduate key seniors like Nica Ogazi, McKenzie Thomas and Asia Davis, the Knights also are experiencing their largest turnout in some time, with 43 girls trying to help rebuild the Knights’ program.

“We had a lot turn out,” coach Joe Tubbs said.

Tubbs is excited for the coming season, but the large number of volleyball hopefuls is just one reason.

After a summer spent hitting the court in one form or another, Tubbs’ Knights are ready for the 2008 season.

“Actually I am (excited),” he said. “The girls worked hard this summer at camps and with the summer league and open gyms.”

Last year, in Tubbs’ debut season, the Knights finished 3-9 overall, going 2-6 in Olympic League play. But for Tubbs, who was a JV coach with Bremerton before last year, the influx of players includes a number that, while new to varsity, know his tendencies from their time at the JV level.

“The year before last, I had girls on varsity now as JV players,” Tubbs said. “So they know my system also. They’re used to switching offensive attacks. It’s nothing I have to teach. It’s just jump in and start to play.”

The growth also means Bremerton will likely implement a C team next season to accompany the varsity and JV squads.

For Tubbs, having a year at the top of the program taught him a lot.

“Just having more patience, being more patient with them,” he said. “And understanding we are basically rebuilding. We lost a lot of club players.”

Still, with a returning core of players like outside hitter Stephanie Himmelsbach, middle hitter Kayla Rose and defensive specialist/setter Alma-may Magday, the Knights have talent. Tubbs said the key will be fusing all those talents together.

“Most the girls on varsity, this is their second or third year playing at the high school,” Tubbs said. “The biggest challenge is just getting them to play together in the same system. Individually, they’re all really good players. We just have to gel on the court.”

But the high turnover coupled with a no-pressure environment means that process should be easily facilitated.

“I think that’s gonna make us stronger this year,” Tubbs said. “There’s no pressure on these guys. They’re relaxed, loose, having fun.”

Early indications from summer league action has Tubbs thinking the Olympic League is anyones early, although he acknowledged that many of the teams, including the Knights, used few varsity players in the league.

“In my opinion, from what I’ve seen from summer leagues, I think it should be pretty even,” Tubbs said. “I haven’t really seen Port Angeles, but it should be pretty even.”

The Knights figure to be in that mix not only thanks to the returning varsity core, but also thanks to varsity newcomers like freshman Alli Taylor.

“She’s a good setter,” Tubbs said. “She’s probably going to be our No. 1 setter. And she brings good defense. She’s got pretty much an all-around game.”

But Taylor’s not alone. Another big freshman, literally and figuratively, is Merissa Duzenski, a 6-foot-2-inch middle and outside hitter.

“She brings a lot to the table,” Tubbs said. “She’s a good blocker. She’s 6-2 and she’s a freshman.”

Combined with JV call-ups like Kia MacIntyre, Tubbs is happy with where his team has the potential to be.

“She’s very athletic,” he said of MacIntyre. “She’s a hard-nosed player.”

That’s a trait many of the Knights share in fact.

“The thing about this group of girls is they have heart,” Tubbs said. “They don’t quit, they don’t give up.”

In the past, Tubbs said the Knights had a tendency to give up when the going got tough. Not this group however.

“In the past, Bremerton hasn’t had a lot of heart,” he said. “They gave up when things were not going their way. But this team has got a lot of heart. And I think that’s gonna carry over.”

The Bremerton volleyball team kicks off the 2008 season on Thursday with a non-league home match against Shelton at 6:15 p.m.

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