Every time Bainbridge needed to help turn the momentum of the match, Allie Wildsmith was there.
With set two tied at 17, Wildsmith delivered three kills and a block down the stretch to tie the match at one game apiece. In the next set, she propelled the Spartans forward with three more kills as part of a 10-3 run to put her team ahead. And when the going got tough in the all-important fifth and final set, the 6 foot 1 middle blocker was right where she needed to be.
Wildsmith stuffed a North Kitsap kill attempt to pull her team within two points at 13-11. Then after another point and a timeout, she smashed a kill to tie the set at 13. Wildsmith then delivered an ace to put the Spartans ahead 16-15 before teammate Izzy Prentice put away the match with a deft kill after a long rally.
The Spartans put forth an enormous effort on the road in a tough environment as they beat their big rival, North Kitsap, in five sets, 20-25, 25-18, 25-16, 12-25, 17-15.
“It’s the greatest feeling in the world,” said Wildsmith, who finished the game with 14 kills. “We came in here with the intention to play our hardest, and no matter what happens, leave the court knowing we played our hardest.”
Momentum didn’t simply swing back and forth between the two teams, it veered hard in each direction like a cable car in a windstorm.
It was easy to forget in the aftermath that the Vikings absolutely dominated set four as their hitters caught fire during a 10-2 run to close the set. Elle Fultz, who finished with a team-high 17 kills for North Kitsap, was nearly unstoppable as her team forced the decisive fifth set.
North Kitsap also had a solid run in the first set as Fultz, Maddie Pryde and Emma Gaines each recorded kills in an 8-0 run that turned the tide in their favor. Lily Pruden also added a pair of kills, as did Sophia Baugh, who finished the night with a strong all-around performance of 44 assists, 12 digs and six blocks.
“We just weren’t consistent,” North Kitsap coach Kaelea Makaiwi said. “We’ve been talking about being consistent in everything. We’ll come out and hammer a team in set one, and then mess around in set two or three.”
The Spartans also got plenty of other contributions from their lineup. With the Vikings focused on Wildsmith and Prentice, opportunities were opened up for players such as Becca Roman, who occasionally stepped outside to hit. She and junior Courtney Dodge both picked up a couple of key points in set two. In set three, junior Lily Taylor scored a pair of aces as part of the long run to close the game. And in set five, seniors Scarlett Bos and Mazzy Thornton and freshman Holley McFadden each picked up a kill.
“It’s making sure we’re able to spread the ball around,” Bainbridge coach Jen Roman said. “My other outsides aren’t as big, but they’re smart with their placements, and we rely on them just as much.”
Thursday served as Senior Night for North Kitsap, as they celebrated their five seniors Fultz, Kate Ryan, Emma Stephens, Maliyah Reed and Allie Kelley. These two teams will get together again Oct. 26 at Bainbridge High School, which also happens to be their Senior Night and will give the Vikings a chance to return the favor as they likely battle for the league title.
“They’re a fabulous team,” Roman said. “Anytime we play it could go either way. We had the advantage, we lost it, it came back.”