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By David Pan 

Kamiak, Mariner making the most of time on court | Volleyball

Knights down Marauders in three sets, 25-17, 25-13, 25-14

 

Last updated 4/7/2021 at 12:08pm

David Pan

Kamiak celebrates winning a point during its 25-17, 25-13, 25-14 victory over Mariner Wednesday, March 24, at Mariner High School.

Kamiak emerged on top against district rival Mariner.

The Knights prevailed 25-17, 25-13, 25-14 in a Wesco volleyball match Wednesday, March 24, at Mariner High School.

But in a very real sense both teams were winners, as they appreciated the opportunity to be back on the court during a worldwide pandemic.

"It has just been a breath of fresh air to bring back that little bit of normalcy, a sense of community," said Mariner coach Julia Riordan. "It's great to have the family back in the gym. We're not just volleyball players. We're a family."

Under normal circumstances Kamiak coach Jason Davis might be tinkering with his rotation or evaluating his bench.

Of course, these are not normal times.

"This year we really decided to focus on fun more than anything else," he said. "These poor seniors have had everything stripped away. We've tried in practice, in matches to just enjoy the process and have fun."

The Knights returned seven seniors, including co-captains Danica Pel, Marina Tukan and Camryn Woodworth. The three helped Kamiak to a 7-1 overall record.

"They've done a good job of leading and being that role model," Davis said. "It's nice to have three senior leaders who defer to each other."

The seven seniors are the most Davis has ever coached at Kamiak.

"These kids have been through the battles," he said. "This is the most resilient team I've had. We've played some decent teams that get us out of system, and make us work for stuff. They are scrappy."

Mariner jumped out to a 6-0 lead in the third set before Kamiak rallied for the victory.

"They never give up. They fight and fight for every single point," Davis said.

Riordan said that the Marauders improved throughout Wednesday's match. She pointed to the level of communication between players, stronger serving, and just being good teammates.

"They were celebrating each other's success," Riordan said.

Unlike their rivals, the Marauders came in with a young roster. Co-captains Natalie Garcia and Araceli Urrutia, were two of only four seniors, and the only ones with significant varsity experience.

"It's definitely a building year," Riordan said.

The team voted on captains, and the clear choices were Garcia and Urrutia.

"They're great players and great leaders on and off the court," Riordan said.

Junior setter Peyton Levy stepped into a difficult role, and has impressed Riordan and the coaching staff.

"She's taken constructive criticism. She continues to improve every day," Riordan said.

Sophomore Tiana Holm-Porter gives the Marauders height at 5-foot-9.

"She's got the height, athleticism and strength," Riordan said. "It's been really fun to hone in on her skills. She's had more control and more strategy behind her play."

In 2020, the Marauders lost one of their top players with the graduation of Taylor Rudberg. But the family's influence remains, as junior Ava Rudberg and freshman Elsie Rudberg will be back.

David Pan

Mariner coach Julia Riordan talks with Tiana Holm-Porter (right) during the match against Kamiak.

"I've had several sets of sisters come through," Riordan said. "It's fun to have both Rudbergs. They are hard-working family."

Though the Knights have a large senior class, Davis sees plenty of talent among the 10 juniors in the program. The Knights had 60 players turn out for the team.

"We'll have a lot of kids to choose from (next season)," Davis said. "We have a lot of rising talent. We'll have to break in a new setter. I'm certainly optimistic for next year, for sure."

Davis has a 14-year-old daughter at home and has seen the frustrating effects of distance learning. Having sports as an outlet has made a difference in students' lives, he said.

"You're seeing some of the frustrations melt off,. They are looser and looser. It's been huge for their mental health. They're doing something other than Zoom at home. It's getting them out and interacting with others."

 

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