“We are a little young. They are still trying to figure things out.”
That was Anacortes High School volleyball coach Kelsey Swapp assessing her team before the season started in September.
The girls figured things out in short order. They’ve rattled off 14 straight wins and head into the postseason undefeated and ranked third in the state behind Tumwater and West Valley (Yakima) according to last week’s Class 2A rankings from the Washington State Volleyball Coaches Association.
Along the way there have been two Northwest Conference wins over their biggest rivals: Burlington-Edison, last year’s 2A state champ and ranked fifth last week, and Sehome, ranked eighth. The Seahawks dropped one set to Sehome Sept. 18 and one set to the Tigers in each meeting, winning the rest of their conference matches 3-0.
The Seahawks wrapped up conference play with a 12-0 record Oct. 24 after a 25-12, 25-11, 25-23 victory at Squalicum. Jessica Riddle had 12 kills and 12 digs, and Mattie Keltner had 13 kills and 10 digs. Kiana Calles had 34 assists, Kristen Hiles had 15 digs and Taylor Rodriguez had eight kills.
Anacortes is the top seed in the Bi-District 2A Tournament, which starts Wednesday in Bellingham.
Riddle, a senior, said they want to improve on last year’s 21-3 record and fifth-place finish at state.
“We hope to be number one,” she said. “We’re working on quick plays and consistency.”
Swapp said their chances are good.
“We have a solid starting six and a deep bench, so our expectations are pretty high,” she said.
Assistant coach Erin Gibson said the Seahawks haven’t grown complacent as the wins piled up and have improved throughout the season.
“I feel like they get better every game,” Gibson said.
Anacortes lost three strong hitters to graduation last year: seniors Shelby Kyllo, Linsey Courtney and Amanda Bessler.
This year, incoming freshmen and underclassmen have stepped up to fill out the squad, said Rodriguez, another senior.
“We have a lot of great hitters in all areas of the court,” she said.
Swapp said the team works well together, especially at the net.
“We just have a strong group of hitters,” she said. “The setter doesn’t just have one; she has several she can go to.”
“We’ve been focusing on passing,” Swapp said. “The better pass you have, the setter has more options.”
Swapp said many of the girls know each other from club teams. It’s Swapp’s third year coaching for Anacortes, and she had difficulty saying what sets this year’s team apart from last year.
“It’s hard to compare the two,” she said. “It’s just a fun group of girls. There’s no drama. We all have the same goal in mind.”
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