Cougar spikers sweep Coupeville, Sultan

LAKEWOOD — On homecoming week, Lakewood volleyball would not be denied.

Coming off a sweep at Coupeville Sept. 29, a meeting coach Tasha Kryger characterized as “a turning point,” Lakewood showed similar dominance over the winless Turks of Sultan, taking the first three games 25-21, 25-16, 25-16.

Neither Kryger nor Lakewood setter Peyton Mizell wanted to make the mistake of underestimating Sultan, though.

“We expected a good game that we could win,” Mizell said afterward.

The team has a lot of youth, but “Sultan is a much improved Sultan,” Kryger said. “You never know which team you’re going to come up against with them.”

Although Lakewood led early in the first game, a couple of serving and other errors helped Sultan stay in the game. Sultan rallied again late in the first game after trailing as much as 21-14, reeling off a 7-4 run and denying Lakewood their game point for three serves before the Cougars closed the deal.

Lakewood trailed to start the second two games but came back easily thanks to prolific junior hitter Liliya Kibitskaya, who had four kills early in the second game to help gain and build on their lead. Kibitskaya added two more serving aces in the middle of the second game to build a lead from which Sultan would not come back.

Sultan took an 8-2 lead to start game three and Lakewood trailed 8-12 before sophomore Samantha Adams took over serving duties. Adams served 13 consecutive points, scoring an ace in the process, as it seemed Lakewood could do no wrong, turning a four-point deficit into a nine-point lead. The teams merely traded points for the next eight serves as Lakewood swept the Turks in three games.

Kibitskaya had seven digs, 12 kills and five aces, joined by Mizell’s six digs and 20 assists. Sophomore Megan Eby added three solo blocks and seven kills.

Mizell said the team is counting on its bond to lift it higher than the fifth-place ranking projected in a preseason coaches’ poll.

When asked the team’s strength, she answered simply, “Togetherness. We play as a team.”

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