Tumwater – There’s nothing subtle about Karlee Jo Sampson’s attacks.
The Tumwater senior quickly leaves her feet and powerfully swings as if she’s purposely trying to loosen the floorboards on the other side of the net, an almost shotgun-like sound reverberates through the gym from the impact.
If you’re trying to defend, you’re already in harm’s way.
Before the play she looks unassuming, her hair in a braid, friendly smile on her face.
Afterward, the epitome of volleyball intimidation is concealed within a 5-foot-7 outside hitter.
Unfortunately for Olympia it was on full display Wednesday when the two powerhouses matched up.
Sampson posted 19 kills and a team-high three blocks, and teammate Jacey Watson added 19 kills and 12 digs to power the Thunderbirds to a four-set non-league victory over the visiting Bears, 21-25, 25-14, 25-14, 25-21.
“She’s the type of player you want to film so you can play it back and show players the proper way how to hit,” Tumwater coach Tana Otton said of Sampson. “Her technique is flawless.
“The bad news is we didn’t have much success in the middle tonight because we didn’t pass very well. The fortunate side is Karlee and Jacey were there on the outside to help us out.”
Hannah Hanson also notched 10 kills as the T-Birds attacked at a .330 clip. Sampson added 10 digs.
“We’ve been hitting at a very high percentage this season,” Otton said. “Olympia is a great defensive team. I’m very pleased with how we played.”
Senior setter Courtney Bowen directed the T-Birds’ offense with 48 assists, while senior libero Hanna Hernandez had 19 digs.
Tumwater moved to 5-0, while Olympia, the defending Class 4A state champion, fell to 2-3.
The Bears started out the first game strong, doubling up Tumwater at 10-5 after getting a pair of kills from Rachel Kelson and an ace and a kill from Michaela Berendt. The T-Birds were able to cut the deficit to 21-17 following a Hanson block.
Following two more kills from Kelson, another Berendt block ended the game, 25-21.
“We weren’t really able to get into an offensive flow (in the first game),” Otton said. “Once we settled down things started to go our way.”
Olympia grabbed an early 3-1 lead in the second game as Kelson continued to chalk up kills before Watson, who was 18-for-18 serving, took over.
The Tumwater senior tallied six kills in the game, including the winner to even the match.
“Jacey did a little bit of everything for us tonight,” Otton said.
Three consecutive Watson kills gave Tumwater an 11-8 lead in the third game. Paige Walker followed a Hanson kill with an ace to give the T-Birds a 13-8 lead before a Sampson kill ended the game, 25-14.
Two blocks from Hannah Adams pulled Olympia to 20-18 in the fourth game, but Tumwater once again turned to its outside hitters to close things out as a Watson kill made it 23-18 and a Sampson kill ended the game, 25-21.