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Spartans hope to travel a familiar path: to state | FALL SPORTS PREVIEW

Carly Lant listens intently to coach Michelle Miller as the Spartans practice this week for the start of the volleyball season. Bainbridge opened the season Thursday against Olympic High.  - Brian Kelly / Bainbridge Island Review
Carly Lant listens intently to coach Michelle Miller as the Spartans practice this week for the start of the volleyball season. Bainbridge opened the season Thursday against Olympic High.
— image credit: Brian Kelly / Bainbridge Island Review

The Spartans have a bit of unfinished business before them.

And it’s a case of where getting there is Job One, but winning is Job Two.

The goal for this year’s Bainbridge volleyball team, of course, is advancing to the state playoffs.

The Spartans made the cut last year after a 12-0 regular season finish, but lost both games at the state tourney.

It was a dispiriting end. The trip to state followed a drought for the Spartans that spanned a few years. Before that, they had gone to the state tournament for five years running.

“We want to go back again,” said Spartan Coach Julie Miller.

“They want to get back and win. They don’t want to just get there.”

Bainbridge is looking at a somewhat rebuilt team with plenty of holdover power, however.

Though turnout for the team was typical, roughly 30 to 35 girls, the Bainbridge squad will boast seven returners this season.

The standouts include libero Emma Burgess, a junior impact player.

“She just is really good; she digs a lot of balls, she reads really well. She kind of captains the back row,” Miller said.

Senior Maggie Haskin, another returner, is a bright spot for the Spartans at setter.

Miller calls her a “dive-into-a-bleacher-to-get-a-ball kind of kid.”

“She is a really, really hard worker,” Miller said.

Katarina Frickleton is the team’s number-one middle, and is a four-year varsity player.

“She is now a captain and is really looking forward to leading her team back to state,” Miller said.

Miller, who has coached at Bainbridge High for 15 years, the last 13 as head coach for the varsity 12, sees other positives, too.

“We seem to have a pretty deep bench, so that’s kind of nice.”

It will be needed. The team plays in the Metro League, one of the best and most competitive in the state.

“Every single match in Metro is tough,” Miller noted. “There is no team that you cannot take seriously.”

That said, the team can’t afford any early stumbles this season.

“It hurts you when you start losing games. It’s important to start out strong and work really, really hard — both at home games and away games,” Miller said.

“I think you definitely have to keep improving throughout the season,” she added. “Everyone else is improving and we have to make sure we keep doing that as well.”

The Spartans have seen a little bit of action already. The played in a volleyball jamboree last weekend in Oak Harbor against teams from Darrington, Coupeville, Burien (Kennedy High) and Tacoma (Foss High). Bainbridge played one game to 25 with six different teams, and finished 4-2.

“We probably should have won them all but we let two slip  away. We were right there with them and should have won,” Miller said.

The Spartans started the season Thursday at home against Olympic High.

Next week, the team travels to Silverdale to play Central Kitsap on Monday, Sept. 10 and returns home to square off against Cleveland on Friday, Sept. 14.

And for now, the state tourney in November will have to wait.

“We just want to take one match at a time and not look too far ahead, and make sure we keep improving and work hard every game and give our team a chance to win every game,” Miller said.

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