Kamiak relying on experience | Volleyball

Seniors hope to end their careers at 4A state volleyball tournament
By David Pan | Sep 13, 2017
Photo by: David R Pan Kamiak’s Grace Foster smashes the ball during a jamboree match Tuesday, Sept. 5, at Cascade High School.

An experienced Kamiak volleyball team is hoping to create some lasting memories this season.

The Knights’ four returning seniors would like nothing better than to wrap up their high school careers with an appearance at the 4A state tournament.

The Knights are coming off a successful 2016 campaign that saw the squad finish third in the league and advance to the district tournament. Kamiak came up short of a state berth, falling 3-2 in its final two matches to Monroe in the semifinals and Glacier Peak in a loser-out consolation match.

“It just gives us that much more motivation,” senior co-captain Haley Gilbert said of last year’s district tournament. “The seniors all really want it before we go off to college. We want it for the rest of the team, so they can have that experience too.”

Kamiak’s last appearance at the state tournament was in 2014.

Second-year head coach Greg Post expects that Kamiak’s returning experience should translate into some more victories.

The Knights played five matches that went five games last year, winning two of them.

“I think part of it is we had only three seniors,” said Post, who was a longtime assistant with the program. “We have more varsity experience. … We’ll be working a lot on maintaining our composure and our mental toughness.”

The Knights are focusing that much harder in practice to prepare for those close matches, Gilbert said.

“Those five-set matches are exhausting,” the senior defensive specialist/libero said. “They’re long and they’re mentally frustrating, especially not taking a win from it. So we’ll be working on mental toughness and being physically fit so that we’ll be ready for those long matches and just ready for whatever is thrown at us in those games.”

Kamiak’s offense underwent some changes with the graduation of one of its top hitters and the absence of another, who is not playing high school volleyball.

But Post is confident that seniors Jaclyn Janczakowski and juniors Hannah Knutt and Quincy Flowers are ready to step in and play larger roles.

Janczakowski is known to be an especially easy going personality off the court. But when she’s on the court, Janczakowski brings intensity to the Knights’ attack.

“She has no problem taking advantage of weaknesses in the defense,” Post said. “She’s the quintessential team player. She can legitimately play any position on the court.”

Knutt is another varsity returner, who Post expects to be an impact player for the Knights.

“She’s really strong. She has a good swing,” Post said. “I’m always impressed in how she takes feedback and applies it.”

Post describes Flowers as one of the team’s most dynamic players.

“She’s just pure energy,” the Kamiak coach said.

The Knights aren’t the tallest team in the league – Flowers and Janczakowski are 5-feet-10. Even so, Gilbert likes the makeup of the offense.

“They’re smart,” Gilbert said. “So they might not necessarily hit the hardest, but they know where to put it. They make the shot necessary to end the point.”

Post settled on an 11-player roster, one fewer than most teams carry, because in part to the strong skills the hitters bring to the lineup.

Senior setter Sam Gregory is back to lead the offense and she is joined by junior Aanna Tukan, who is moving up from junior varsity. Tukan’s younger sister, Marina, is the lone freshman to be named to varsity.

“It’s nice to have a setter returning … but it’ll be good to throw Aanna into the mix, so she has that experience for next year,” Gilbert said.

The focus for the Knights, however, is making 2017 a year to remember.

“We’re all prepared to leave everything that we have on those courts,” Gilbert said.

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