Spikers confident after strong showing

Hannah Stuart returns a fire. - JESSE BEALS/Staff Photo
Hannah Stuart returns a fire.
— image credit: JESSE BEALS/Staff Photo

New players are ready to step up after a third-place run at State.

For Bainbridge High School volleyball, last year was a watershed.

Coach Julie Miller and her squad went 30-4 overall, finished second in the Metro tournament and Districts, and third at State – the first time in school history they’ve placed at that tournament.

This year, despite a young team – only three seniors return, and the team will be mostly juniors and sophomores – they feel they’re still in contention for a fourth straight trip to the Everett Events Center in November, as they get ready for the prep season.

“It’s a good, athletic group,” Miller said. “We’ll be really young. We’ve only got three seniors, so we’ve definitely got some work to do.”

Miller will have to deal with the graduation of five starters: All-Metro first teamer Michelle Miller (now playing at the University of New Mexico), second teamers Sarah Braun and Ashley Bice and honorable mentions Michelle Baggett and Samantha Nelson. Tabitha Mabrey, who was a valuable member, moved to Idaho with her family.

But Miller still has her senior outside hitters Hannah Stuart and Sabrina Tan. Both were All-Metro selections last year and both have high hopes for this year’s team.

“I was a little nervous because there were five seniors who graduated and they were good,” Tan said. “But everyone improved over the summer.”

“I think we have a good chance,” Stuart said. “I saw a prep volleyball article that said we were gonna come in second at State, and I think that’s true.”

If they can make it there, it will be with the assistance of players like Kelcey Dunaway, a sophomore who will see time at the middle hitter position along with junior Marijke Smith.

Junior Lindsey Bratonia is competing for the setter spot with junior Allie Post and senior Alexa Seidl. Sophomore Hilary Grant, could start as the libero and Miller is excited to have her there.

“She’s just improved so much over last year,” she said of Grant. “(Lindsey) is strong, she’s real competitive. She’s a really strong worker.”

“Everyone’s working really well together,” said Dunaway. “We have a lot more people who’ve played before, which is nice.”

Miller said her players are versatile and can adapt to different spots, but felt there’s “good and bad” in her team being so young.

“When you’re young, I think people don’t think that you can sneak up on other people, so in that sense it’s good,” she said. “But experience wise, (not) playing at the varsity level, that could definitely be a factor.”

The inexperience may show when the Spartans start Metro League when Chief Seattle comes to town on Sept. 12. It may also show when they eventually face off against last year’s state champion Bishop Blanchet at home on Oct. 3 and in the last game of the season at Blanchet on Oct. 19.

Despite the pre-season press, the team believes the element of surprise will be on their side.

“It’ll be interesting,” Miller said. “We definitely have the potential to go to State and do well, but the pressure of how they handle it will be a factor.”

Said Stuart: “Nobody expects us to do well, I think, but we’ll surprise them.”

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