Fall sports preview: Seniors, sophs lead Wolves’ volleyball on court

Fall sports preview: Sequim High School volleyball

Head coach: Jennie Webber Heilman (26th season); Assistants: Rachel Oden, Lillian Oden

2017 record: 7-5 in Olympic League (fourth place), 10-9 overall; 1-2 at district 2A tournament

Top returnees: Tayler Breckenridge (sr.), Isabelle Dennis (sr.), Brittney Gale (sr.), Arlene Law (sr.), Jayla Julmist (so.), Kalli Wiker (so.), Annika Christensen (sr.), Latisha Robideau (sr.), Jessica Asselin (so.)

Newcomer: Veronica Preciado (sr.)

In just one season, Sequim’s Wolves went from a pack of relatively inexperienced players to a squad replete with senior leaders and a strong corps of underclassmen.

With no seniors on last year’s team, a crew of seven juniors and a pair of standout freshmen led the Wolves to a 7-5 mark in the Olympic League and a district tournament berth, where they went 1-2 and fell short of a return to the state 2A tourney.

This fall, bolstered by their upperclassmen and sophomores, the Wolves look to improve on their fourth place finish in league and go even deeper into the postseason.

“”We’re scrappy right now,” Sequim head coach Jennie Webber Heilman says following a preseason practice. “That’s a good thing.”

Back is all-Olympic League first team senior Tayler Breckenridge, a middle/outside hitter, who led the team with 210 kills and a 93 percent serving percentage, and was second on the team in digs (226), blocks (21) and aces (31).

Webber Heilman said Breckenridge is an on-the-court leader.

“We have some quiet kids,” the Sequim coach says. “Then we have Tayler.”

Also back is Brittany Gale, a senior setter who earned all-Olympic League first team honors after posting a team-best 44 aces to go along with a 91 percent serving mark and a team-high 215 assists as a junior. She also had 47 kills, third-best in the team.

Sequim setter Kalli Wiker and libero Isabelle Dennis were all-league honorable mentions. Wiker, then a freshman, was second on the team with 204 assists and aces with 41, while Dennis, then a junior, led the team with 240 digs and added 23 aces.

“We have our two setters (Gale and Wiker), so we’re not having to go over our rotation (in practices),” Webber Heilman said

Sophomore Jayla Julmist was fifth on team with 28 kills and third with 18 blocks last season as a ninth-grader.

“Kalli and Jayla are keeping up with the other girls,” Webber Heilman said of her sophomores.

Seniors Isabelle Dennis and Bobbi Sparks may see some time in the libero (defensive specialist) position this fall, their coach said.

Webber Heilman said a key for Sequim’s success this season is perfecting their passes and tough serving.

“That got us in the end; we didn’t pass well enough to hit (at districts),” she said. “We didn’t have enough firepower to hang with some of those teams.

“(But) we have some pretty tough servers.”

Top competition in the Olympic League figures to once again be in the north end of Kitsap County: North Kitsap’s Vikings went undefeated (12-0) in league play in 2017 but graduated the league’s MVP (Rae Rosenquist) and Defensive MVP (Eunice Moran). Kingston, NK’s neighboring school, pushed on into the state 2A tourney after finishing third in the league (Bremerton was second).

Sequim opened the season with a jamboree at home on Sept. 4. The Wolves open league play Sept. 6 when they host the rival Port Angeles Roughriders. Sequim is at Bremerton on Sept. 11 before hosting Olympic on Sept. 13 and non-league foe Blaine on Sept. 15.

The Wolves are at North Kitsap on Sept. 18.