Sports

Bremerton volleyball spikes first victory

BHS’ Haley Lillybridge (3) and Merissa Duzenski go up for a block during the Lady Knights’ 3-0 victory over Klahowya at home Tuesday. (Below) The team huddles during a timeout. - Wesley Remmer/staff photos
BHS’ Haley Lillybridge (3) and Merissa Duzenski go up for a block during the Lady Knights’ 3-0 victory over Klahowya at home Tuesday. (Below) The team huddles during a timeout.
— image credit: Wesley Remmer/staff photos

When Beth Donnelly reflects on her first season as coach of the Bremerton volleyball team, perhaps Tuesday’s match against Klahowya will be the most memorable.

That’s because the Lady Knights secured their first regular-season victory since Donnelly stepped in, cruising to a 3-0 (25-14, 25-20, 25-18) victory over the Eagles at Bremerton High School.

“We’re just really trying to stay positive as a group because we’re all in this together,” Donnelly said. “If we lose as a team, then we’ll win as a team eventually. And we’re finally starting to get there.”

Lily Kimple tallied 11 digs, Penny Bell converted 10 kills in 15 tries and Allie Taylor had 14 assists to help BHS erase the memories of a loss to North Kitsap on Sept. 24, a match Donnelly called the team’s worst of the season.

“I coached terribly,” she said. “They struggled intensity-wise with me harping at them and yelling at them. We basically just beat ourselves into the ground that night.”

But the team didn’t fall apart, promising itself to turn a new leaf beginning with the Klahowya match. The approach worked, with players such as Kia MacIntyre and Haley Lillybridge registering strong performances along with Kimple, Bell and Taylor.

BHS never trailed, and it took seven consecutive points from KSS to trim the third and match-deciding game from 24-11 to the final 25-18.

Moving forward — the team faced Port Townsend yesterday, but results from that match were unavailable at press time — Donnelly said the key is to stay consistent and not get “cocky.”

“I think the best part about tonight is, they get a little bit of a taste of what it feels like to be in a winning position,” Donnelly said. “You win, move on and start over.”

An improved effort on defense, keyed by the presence of MacIntyre, helped the Lady Knights hold the lead and reduce their number of unforced errors. Bell, meanwhile, unveiled a jump-serve Donnelly said she picked up for the first time just two days prior to the match.

“Minus the record, we are where I want us to be,” Donnelly said, referring to the team’s 1-5 mark. “If you took a video tape of the first practice and then watched tonight’s match, there’s a night and day difference.”

What’s it going to take to continue to win?

“As long as they stay positive and their spirits stay positive, we’re going to keep getting better and better,” Donnelly said.

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