Bainbridge claims first win in Metro League tourney

Hannah Wagner jumps up to spike the ball in the first Metro tourney game against Nathan Hale.  - Brian Kelly | Bainbridge Island Review
Hannah Wagner jumps up to spike the ball in the first Metro tourney game against Nathan Hale.
— image credit: Brian Kelly | Bainbridge Island Review

The Spartans righted their recently wayward ship with a first-round win in the Metro League girls varsity volleyball tournament Tuesday.

Bainbridge won in three straight, 25-11, 25-13 and 25-11 at home over Nathan Hale.

Spartan Head Coach Julie Miller said the team had a two-pronged goal: Stay focused and finish.

“I thought the girls did a good job of both,” Miller said.

Good thing the Spartans faced smooth sailing against the Raiders. The opening round matchup was a loser-out affair, with fourth-place Bainbridge battling fifth-place Nathan Hale for a chance to advance in the Metro tournament.

Now, with the win, Bainbridge not only advances but has a guaranteed slot in district play next week.

The victory also marked a triumphant turnabout for the blue-and-gold, and the welcome return of the vanished veteran Emma Burgess. Bainbridge has won just one game since Burgess has been sidelined.

Burgess has been out for five games for health reasons, or as BHS Head Coach Julie Miller put it, “Basically the entire second half of the season.”

The Spartans’ standout libero had six digs in her comeback appearance.

“It was a perfect game for Emma to kind of get her feet wet again,” Miller said.

Good for the team, too, the coach noted.

“It’s just nice to have her back. And it’s a more comfortable thing for everybody,” Miller said.

Burgess got plenty of help against the Raiders.

Much credit goes to Lauren Sheehan and Hannah Wagner.

Sheehan paced Bainbridge High with four aces and 12 kills.

Wagner contributed seven aces and 10 kills.

There was plenty of other help, too.

Rowan Atherley finished with three aces, 17 assists, while Emilia Dronkert added five aces and 12 assists.

The start of Metro tourney play also marked the addition of two new players to the team. Miller pulled up sophomore Sage Wolter and junior Erika Mattes from the JV squad.

Both saw court time during Tuesday’s visit by Lakeside to Paski Gymnasium.

“It was a good opportunity for me to get them in their first varsity experience. Just in case,” Miller said. “You never know.”

Indeed. This week’s win puts the Spartans into district play.

Now comes something critical — the fight for seeding at districts.

Bainbridge was scheduled to continue tourney play this week, with a matchup Thursday against Chief Sealth, and, if BHS wins, against Eastside Catholic.

Thursday’s winners advance to tournament play Saturday.

The team is very happy with its win and chance to continue competing in the Metro tourney, Miller said.

Thoughts about district competition will come after that, she said.

“They want to do well,” Miller said.

Winning three in a row, though, and taking the Metro title means dispatching West Seattle after wins over Chief Sealth and Eastside Catholic.

Bainbridge will have to hit a trifecta in another way to pull that one off.

“Good defense and smart hitting and good serving, will be the keys for everybody,” Miller said.

For the Spartans: “Defense and being smart as hitters go hand-in-hand,” Miller said.

If it sounds easy, it isn’t.

“There are times when we dig relay well, but hit balls out. And there are times we don’t dig as well.

“If we can shore up both of those, we should do OK,” Miller said.

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