TUMWATER – It might be hard to believe it, but the Tumwater Thunderbirds still have work to do on the volleyball court.
It didn’t look like it after the T-Birds’ sweep of Capital on Tuesday night at Tumwater High School in a battle of two unbeaten teams that are both ranked in the statewide coaches’ poll. But Tumwater coach Tana Otton knows there’s holes to fill in her team’s game as the second half of the regular season begins Thursday.
“It’s nice to come in with a clean record, knowing you still have a lot of things to get better at,” Otton said after her team won all three games against Capital on Tuesday, 25-21, 25-14 and 25-17.
Tumwater (8-0 overall, 6-0 2A Evergreen Conference) and Capital (7-1, 5-1) came into the showdown as the No. 3- and No. 6-ranked teams respectively in Class 2A.
But the 1-hour, 9-minute match was quickly dominated by the T-Birds, last year’s Class 2A state runners-up.
Tumwater spread around its offensive stats. Jacey Watson, Karlee Sampson and Courtney Bowen were a combined 39-for-39 in serving with four aces. Sampson led all players with a game-high 14 kills, followed by 10 from Hannah Hanson, the team’s middle hitter. Bowen dished out 27 assists, and Paige Walker had 10 digs.
Serve receive and unforced errors doomed the Cougars from the start. Tumwater built a 22-13 lead in the first set following a Walker kill, before Capital went on an 8-1 run to cut the lead to two at 23-21.
Capital went on a similar run in the second set when trailing 16-9 and cut the deficit to 17-14, but Tumwater closed the set out on an 8-0 run of its own.
It was Sampson and Hanson who jumpstarted Tumwater’s offense in the third set, as the lead blossomed to nine twice – the first at 20-11 – after an ace by Watson.
“The way we work together, we’re all just best friends on the court,” Sampson said. “We’re excited to see what’s to come.”
Rachel Erickson and Dani Tabor have both tallied multiple double-digit kill matches for Capital this season, but were held to seven and six kills respectively. Tabor also had a team-high three blocks.
Capital coach Natalie Zukowski said she sometimes feels a loss can be a gift, with a team having to reset and look at the things that need to be improved on.
“We made a lot of our own errors,” Zukowski said. “I felt like we were slow on defense. We weren’t reading, and we weren’t penetrating on the blocks.”firstname.lastname@example.org www.theolympian.com/southsoundsports