Bainbridge focused on bumping up defense

 (L-R) Sophomore Erin Kinney and co-captain Kat Frickleton go up to block Maddy Stevenson’s hit as co-captain Nina Mutty (far right) looks on at practice Tuesday.  Frickleton and juniors Mutty, Cali Moore and Sarah Dacquisto are the only returners from the 2009 squad.  - Brad Camp/For the Review
(L-R) Sophomore Erin Kinney and co-captain Kat Frickleton go up to block Maddy Stevenson’s hit as co-captain Nina Mutty (far right) looks on at practice Tuesday. Frickleton and juniors Mutty, Cali Moore and Sarah Dacquisto are the only returners from the 2009 squad.
— image credit: Brad Camp/For the Review

When Bainbridge lines up for its first match against North Mason Tuesday, 11 new players will be donning the Spartan varsity uniform.

“This year we have no seniors, so it’s intimidating,” junior outside hitter Sarah Dacquisto said. “I know everybody’s really athletic and really quick, and we will use what we have to take other teams down.”

Juniors Dacquisto, Cali Moore and Nina Mutty and sophomore Kat Frickleton are the only returners from a Bainbridge squad that went 9-18 in 2009.

“It’s kind of hard at first just to get the team together because we’re all new and new at playing together, but I think everyone’s doing really well so far,” said Frickleton, a middle blocker. “We’re pretty young but we’re doing well, and I think everybody really, really wants it.”

Bainbridge carried three juniors on its roster last season, but they chose not to return this season, 13-year coach Julie Miller said.

“That was kind of a big surprise,” said Moore, a defensive specialist. “I didn’t know that there weren’t going to be any seniors. I think last year I was kind of the baby. There was a lot of older girls so I didn’t expect it.”

While this isn’t the first time Miller has fielded a senior-free team, the captains – who only have one season of varsity experience apiece – have even greater responsibility to teach new players.

“What I’d like to see is the girls compete better than last year,” Miller said. “I think we gave up in a lot of matches last year, and I think this group has the potential not to do that because they’re willing to dive on the floor and they seem to support each other if things don’t go well.”

The team needs to play with a positive mentality, Frickleton said, and “not expect to lose. Go in it trying to win.”

While just a week has passed since tryouts began, the returners have noticed positive signs with this year’s squad.

“Communication is better than last year already,” Dacquisto said. “If there’s going to be issues with the other team I feel like everybody’s comfortable enough to address it openly instead of quietly taking it out on the court.

“I feel we all want to be here. Everybody’s so much more passionate.”

Like the 2009 team, the Spartans are undersized as compared to their Metro League opponents, intensifying the importance of good defense.

“I really want to see us working hard on our defense, digging a lot of balls and getting our serves where we want to so we can really go after the other team,” said Mutty, an outside hitter. “It kind of starts off the whole play. Without a good pass you can’t get a good hit or a good set.”

Miller, who comes from a defensive background, believes in emphasizing defense.

“It’s really important because we don’t have really big players and we don’t have really big hitters, so we have to dig,” she said. “We’re playing a lot of kids who are Division I talent, 6’1, beastly kids.”

The team’s 11 rookies are evenly matched, Miller said.

“They seem to be really hard workers,” she said. “They don’t seem to get too worked up about anything, so that’s good, especially in a young team.”

Sophomore Erin Kinney, a setter, will be a player to watch, Miller said.

Freshman Emma Burgess will likely step into the role of defensive specialist.

“She’s really good. She’ll be really fun to watch because she dives all over the place,” Miller said.”

In addition to post-season goals, Dacquisto would like to see the team win its pre-season games.

“Those teams are teams, I feel, that we could be beating,” she said.

Two Metro teams – Bishop Blanchet and Seattle Prep – advanced to the 3A quarterfinals last year, with Blanchet winning the state title over Mount Spokane.

“When we started the season last year we played the first couple matches – they were OK teams,” Moore said. “We got to Seattle Prep and Blanchet and it was kind of a shocker.”

The team begins Metro play at home against Holy Names Sept. 14.

“Every single one is going to be a good game,” Miller said “The Metro’s going to be really, really tough. If people want to come watch good volleyball you can come to any match of the season and it’s going to be good.”

While Bainbridge only won two league matches last season – both over Lakeside – this year’s squad is looking to overshadow the past.

“People don’t expect much from us – let’s prove them wrong,” Dacquisto said.

2010 Spartans

Juniors: Nina Mutty, Cali Moore, Maddie Casey, Lauren Easley, Sarah Dacquisto, Jackie Blacker, Amanda Witt

Sophomores: Maddy Stevenson, Erin Kinney, Maureen McCormick, Kat Frickleton, Maggie Haskins

Freshmen: Emma Burgess, Halle Braswell

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