Counter-intuitive as it seems, it worked Thursday night for the Capital Cougars, who ratcheted up the volleyball energy to defeat Olympia, 3 games to 1, and claim the Olympia Host Lions Club trophy, emblematic of this annual nonleague rivalry match, for the first time since 2000.
“We definitely picked it up,” said senior hitter Kristyn Ross, who had 21 kills in the match. “Our intensity level was amazing.
“That’s our team right there. That’s the way we can play.”
It was a win to savor for Capital coach Natalie Zukowski.
“We definitely played as a team,” she said. “We didn’t let Olympia get a lot of runs.
“We were being aggressive, and we were being patient. In long rallies, the more patient we are, the better we are.”
Ross stood out for the Cougars, as expected, with 23 digs to go with her power game. But there was credit to go around: Lynn Zhao had 17 digs, setter Gabi Vega had 43 assists and Aria Goodman had 10 kills.
“This year we’re much more balanced,” said Zukowski, who also praised the steady work of middle hitter Natalie Christopher, one of eight seniors on the team.
“They’re all leaders in their own way,” she said of her senior nucleus.
For Olympia coach Laurie Creighton, the difference in the teams this night was the Bears’ unforced errors. By conservative count, she said, the Cougars picked up 22 points on hitting errors or serving errors by the Bears.
“Too many free points,” Creighton said. “That’s uncharacteristic for our teams generally. We didn’t control some of the things we can control, especially serving.”
The teams split the first two games, Capital winning the first by a 25-20 score and Olympia hanging tough by a 25-17 count in the second.
Capital seized the momentum in the third game, winning by 25-17 behind strong play by Ross, Goodman and Danielle Tabor. The Cougars closed it out by a 25-14 count in the fourth, with Tabor again solid at the net.
“Give Capital credit,” said Creighton. “They made adjustments, we did not. Hopefully we can use this to make us better.”
The Bears get back at it against Tumwater on the Sept. 23, travel to the Kent Classic at Kentlake High on the 25th, and host Emerald Ridge on the 29th.
Capital hosts Lakes on Sept. 20, turns right around to host Gig Harbor on the 21st and visits Lincoln on the 23rd.