Community Sports

Sports Beat: Volleyball teams qualify for state tournament

Posted on November 17th, 2023 By:

The Gig Harbor (14-7) and Peninsula (13-8) volleyball teams both qualified for the Class 3A state tournament with inspired play at the 3/4 District championships at Mount Tacoma and Capital High Schools on Nov. 10 and 11.

The teams play at the Yakima Valley SunDome on Nov. 17 and 18.

District play

Gig Harbor and Peninsula took different routes through the district bracket to get to state.

The Tides won three straight — versus Spanaway Lake (3-1), Auburn Riverside (3-2) and Mountain View of Vancouver (3-0) — during a march to the district championship match.

North Thurston swept the Tides in the title match, but Gig Harbor’s run through a difficult field was impressive.

Peninsula opened district action with a dismantling of Kent Meridian (3-0) before falling to Mountain View in straight sets. The Seahawks dropped into a loser out match versus Bainbridge Island, but they weren’t ready for their season to end. Peninsula produced a three-game sweep of the Spartans.

A tough Auburn Riverside team then defeated the Seahawks 3-1 and put them in a do-or-die game versus Spanaway Lake. Peninsula came through in the clutch with a decisive 3-1 victory to earn the seventh and final berth to the state tournament.

Gig Harbor, the No. 9 seed at state, opened state play Friday, Nov. 18, against No. 8 Prairie (18-3) of Vancouver. Peninsula drew the No. 19 seed and swept No. 14 Meadowdale in the Seahawks’ tournament opener. They advanced to face No. 3 Mead of Spokane.

Gig Harbor

The Tides continue to show improvement for coach Slade Klein and seem to be peaking at just the right time. Five seniors lead the Tides:

  • Setter Lydia Ward, who is a natural competitor who will do whatever it takes to win.
  • Natalie Piasecki, an outside hitter, always seems to come up with a big play down the stretch.
  • Middle blockers Liv Cichanski and Sophie Shafner, both 5-foot-11, are capable blockers who consistently play hard.
  • Reserve setter Elly Sullivan, who is counted on to set when Ward shifts to outside hitter.

Talented underclassmen include Payton Heim, the team’s tireless, do-it-all libero; and Maggie Maharry, a snappy hitter with touch.

The Gig Harbor High School volleyball team plays this weekend in the Class 3A state tournament.

Hannah Artman, the Tides’ tallest player, is near the team lead in kills. Aspen Greene supplied multiple points with her flat serve in the district opener. And Maddie Baker consistently made positive defensive plays at districts.

Rounding out the talented squad are reserves Emily Angell, a 6-footer who provides blocking depth; Danielle Biehl, a quick, athletic setter; and Bethany Rajnus, the only freshman on the varsity team.

Klein has coached some of these players in summer camps and clinics since they were 10 years old.

“He is the best,” Ward said of Klein. “He is very passionate, very caring and always enthusiastic … we just love him as our coach.”

His experienced assistant coaches are Marisa Nichols, Jesse Slothower, Melissa Klein and Rachel Howard.


Across town is another talented team that is used to the local limelight. Peninsula finished second and fifth at the Class 3A state tournament the last two years. Head coach Katrina Cardinal, a former standout Peninsula player who returned to coach her alma mater, has done nothing but win since she arrived.

Her team is anchored by seniors with state experience who should be comfortable in the SunDome. They are led by:

  • Libero Evalyn Sutherland, a tough, scrappy player who flies around the court.
  • Mackenna Moloznik, a consistent and crafty setter who gets more precise in crunch time.
  • Avary Young, who can quickly blast winners from anywhere on the court.
  • Katie Bodnar, a defensive specialist and senior leader.

The Seahawks have a couple big hitters in junior Ziah Sneva, who often seems to be on a different level than her opponents while spiking or blocking from high above the net; and 6-foot Emma Young, who is smooth with her court movement and a quick leaper who hits with pace.

The Peninsula High volleyball team plays this weekend in the Class 3A state tournament.

Junior outside hitters Julia Epstein and Bridget Bender are competitive and intense players who don’t often make mistakes. Sarah Hurn, also a junior outside hitter, can do a little bit of everything on the court.

Junior setter Georgia Buckland provided some key service winners during districts and sophomore Kate Cardinal, a talented defensive specialist, always seems to make the correct play while displaying a calming presence in tense situations.

Capable reserves Meghan Webster, Terissa Cottey and talented future star Leah Schmidt — the only freshman on the Seahawks varsity team — round out the squad.

Coach Cardinal has done a fine job with her young team especially after losing a key contributor from last year’s squad in outside hitter Samantha Karjala, a would-be sophomore who moved to Florida.

Cardinal provides steady leadership with a style that her players gravitate toward.

“Coach Cardinal has really high expectations for all her players,” Sutherland said. “She is intense and competitive, but she knows how to bring the best out of all of her players. I love playing for a coach that wants to win just as much as I do.”

Peninsula’s experienced assistant coaches are Lori Smith, Aly Bruess, Julia Clements and Delaney Hrvatin.

Soccer teams eliminated at state

Both local soccer teams saw their seasons end in second-round losses to talented Seattle-area teams at the Class 3A state tournament.

Eighth-seeded Peninsula put up a strong fight but was beaten by Shorecrest, 1-0, at Bellevue High School on Nov. 10.

The Seahawks (13-4-2) have nothing to hang their heads about in losing to the versatile Scotts. Shorecrest got the lead and loaded the box with defenders to protect the goal. Peninsula couldn’t find the net despite creating some opportunities, but received a fine game from goalkeeper Brooklyn Finch. Shorecrest moved on to the state semifinals with a 2-1 upset of top-seeded Bellevue, which hadn’t lost in 13 previous games.

The Tides (14-4-2) fell to another team that advanced to the Class 3A semifinals. They lost to Lincoln of Seattle 3-0 at Shoreline Stadium on Nov. 10.

The Gig Harbor High soccer team qualified for the Class 3A state tournament.

Lincoln led 1-0 at halftime, then packed the defense around the goal, forcing the Tides to push numbers forward in an attempt to score. Gig Harbor had a few chances but were susceptible to a counterattack as Lincoln stretched the lead late. Lincoln went on to defeat Mount Spokane 4-1 to advance to the 3A semifinals at Sparks Stadium in Puyallup.

Peninsula placed second in the South Sound Conference and barely lost the district championship to Stadium in an overtime shootout. Head coach Kim Demianiaw will say goodbye to a talented group of seniors including Makena Getts, Gabbie Hernandez, Brianna Newton, Natalie Rodriquez, and captains Addi Sebren, Emma Kruger, and Sydney Nickles.

Gig Harbor won the South Sound Conference title and finished third at districts. The Tides and coach Katie Bennett wave so long to another talented group of seniors, including Kate Jones, Sophie Blake, Sarah Ehler, Ella Gardner, Kylie Klipper, Abbie Hunter, Mara Lenzi and Jocelyn Gregory.

The Peninsula High soccer team qualified for the Class 3A state tournament.

Football all-conference teams

South Sound Conference all-league football teams include the following Gig Harbor and Peninsula players:

First team offense

QB: Benji Park, Gig Harbor, sr.

WR: Drake Matthies, Gig Harbor, sr.

OL: Peyton Howard, Gig Harbor, soph.

First team defense

DL: Josh Riggs, Gig Harbor, sr.

LB: Ryland Geldermann, Gig Harbor, soph.

LB: Wyatt Abrigo, Peninsula, jr.

DB: Ayden Fink, Gig Harbor, sr.

Peninsuia junior linebacker Wyatt Abrigo was a first-team All-South Sound Conference selection.

First team special teams

K: Boone Leverett, Gig Harbor, jr.

Second team offense

RB: Connor Burton, Peninsula, sr.

WR: Ben Stevens, Gig Harbor, sr.

TE: Cole Muillenburg, Peninsula, sr.

OL: Royal Charles, Peninsula, soph.

Second team defense

DL: Royal Charles, Peninsula, soph.

DL: Peyton Howard, Gig Harbor, soph.

Second team special teams

P: Mana Smythe, Peninsula, jr.

Honorable mention

Gig Harbor: RB Ryland Geldermann, soph.; WR DJ Darling, soph.; DB Liam Green, soph,; WR Matt Ehler, sr.; DL Keegan Johnson, soph.

Peninsula: LB Gabe Paradiso, sr.; LB Cam Miller, sr.; OL Trace Schumacher, sr.; DB Jake Akaskalian, jr.

Boone Leverett, who punts and kicks for Gig Harbor, was the first-team All-South Sound Conference kicker for the second year in a row. Photo by Bryce Carithers

All conference soccer

The South Sound Conference girls soccer all-league teams include the following Peninsula and Gig Harbor players:

First team

Elizabeth Hayes, Gig Harbor, soph.

Elise Miller, Gig Harbor, jr.

Sophie Blake, Gig Harbor, sr.

Emma Krueger, Peninsula, sr.

Hailey Shride, Peninsula, jr.

Addison Sebren, Peninsula, sr.

Second team

Kennedy Marler, Gig Harbor, jr.

Sarah Ehler, Gig Harbor, sr.

Ella Coates, Peninsula, soph.

Brooklyn Finch, Peninsula, soph.

Makena Getts, Peninsula, sr.

Honorable mention

Ella Gardner, Gig Harbor, sr.

Maya Rodgers, Peninsula, soph.

Sage Sturrock, Gig Harbor, soph.