They were the ones their coaches could always count on for the big point, the big play.
Kristyn Ross and Lauren Herseth have a knack for delivering in the clutch.
As a result, Ross, a jumping-jack outside hitter and a three-year starter on Capital’s volleyball team, was named the Narrows League 3A most valuable player, picking up the award for the second straight year.
And Herseth, an all-around player and a senior for Olympia, was MVP for the Narrows League 4A, helping the Bears win another league championship.
Two MVPs. Two league championships.
“Kristyn is an amazing all-around player,” Capital coach Natalie Zukowski said. “She’s a very physical player. Probably the hardest hitter in the area, if not the state.”
Ross leads Capital in kills, digs and aces, helping the Cougars win their fifth straight league title. She’s the all-time leader in kills for her school.
“She’s probably one of the best players this area has seen,” Zukowski said. “Yet she’s very humble. She’s a very hard worker.”
Herseth was a playmaker, good as a passer, server, spiker and defender.
“She’s an all-around great player,” Olympia coach Laurie Creighton said. “She’s a great passer, greater server, great defender. When she’s on the court, she makes plays.”
Besides the dual MVPs, Zukowski and Creighton were both named coach of the year in their respective leagues.
Capital, which lost only once and shared the league championship with Timberline, landed two players on league’s first team – setter Gabi Vega and outside hitter Aria Goodman. Timberline setter Gatalina Schuster, outside hitter Alyssa Kellar and libero Ashley Bent all made first team.
For the Bears, middle blocker Jen Liedes and libero Annie Sing made first team in Narrows 4A.
Ross and Herseth had the ability to inspire teammates to play better.
“Kristyn was inspiring not just with her consistent play, but with the way she pumps people up,” Zukowski said. “She wants everyone to contribute. She’s a once-in-a-lifetime player.”
Olympia (25-3) and Capital (23-1) begin district play on Friday. Olympia opens against Rogers at 1:45 p.m. at Kentwood. Capital plays the winner of the Columbia River-Bonney Lake game at 6 p.m. at Auburn Mountainview. Timberline faces Kelso at 3 p.m.
Capital, which has won eight league titles in Zukowski’s nine years as head coach, goes into district as the tournament favorite with the prospect of reaching state for the second straight year.
While Ross has been a big part of Capital’s success, the team has lots of depth with eight seniors.
“We don’t have to rely on just one player,” Zukowski said.
Gail Wood: 360-754-5443 firstname.lastname@example.org |www.theolympian.com/sports/blog