Outside hitter Tommi Gallucci, center, celebrates with her teammates in their win over hometown rival Gig Harbor. Photo: Veronica Foley Photography

It has been a historic season for girls volleyball at Peninsula High School. The Seahawks finished with their best record in years and put up a strong fight in the 2019 Washington Interscholastic Activities Association playoffs at the end of November.

Both varsity and junior varsity teams remained poised all season, knowing that every Thursday evening they had one mission: Protect the home court at all cost.

Peninsula had so much talent, the Seahawks seemed to have two varsity teams. JV posted a record of 11-2, smothering opponents all year, while varsity pummeled the top dogs in the 3A South Sound Conference, posting a record of 11-3. Varsity played one more game than JV, a 3-0 victory over Timberline.

Varsity protected their home court, posting a record of 5-2 at home with losses to Central Kitsap and Capital, but also dominated on the road, marching into schools across the region to end the season with a 6-1 record as the visiting team. Their lone loss on the road was at Capital.

Last year’s SSC MVP Maeve Griffin returned for her senior year as team captain for the Hawks. “We trusted and believed in each other and really came together as a team to reach our goal of going to state,” she said. “We worked day in and day out to push each other to be the best players and teammates we could be.”

Rising stars Laney Lovrovich and Josie Hampton also had outstanding seasons, and both have a shot at this year’s MVP, to be announced later in the year.

Hampton was a scoring machine, and even had one game where she scored 20 points for the Hawks, while Lovrovich never let the ball touch the ground in her zone, wreaking havoc on opposing teams. Last season, Lovrovich was a first team conference player, with Hampton and Tommi Gallucci on her heels as second team conference players.

Peninsula advanced to the district tournament with the top teams in the state. After beating both Wilson and Prairie High Schools 3-0, the Seahawks took only one loss in the tournament to their old conference rival Capital, who clenched the SSC for the second consecutive year with a 13-1 record.

After that single loss, the Seahawks were down but not out, winning their last game of the bracket 3-1 against Central Kitsap, qualifying for state. The top six teams from the tournament advanced to the 3A state championship at the SunDome in Yakima.

The Seahawks were the second best team in the bracket. The first ranked team in the 3A division was none other than the team Peninsula failed to beat this year, the Capital Cougars. Gig Harbor, Peninsula’s fiercest rival, was given the third seed in the tournament.

In round one of the playoffs, the Seahawks played the Arlington Eagles in hopes of moving on. The Hawks recognized that these were the best teams in the state, and nobody was backing down without a fight. Peninsula played hard but lost 3-1 in their first match against Arlington. The Hawks had a chance to stay in it, but took their final loss of the year in a 3-2 nail-biter against Seattle Prep.

“This year we really were able to connect as a team and we were able to have a lot of fun together on and off the court, which I feel helped us relax and play our best,” senior Zoe Erkers said. “We also have an amazing coach who pushed us to be the best players we could be and we wouldn’t have gotten where we did without her.”

Head coach Katrina Cardinal recognized she had a ton of raw talent on the teams this season, and even had a few freshmen start on varsity. It’s no surprise that the JV squad produces varsity players — the only problem PHS will have for a few years is who to pick from the talent pool.

Daniel Shurr is a Peninsula High School senior and PHS Outlook sports writer. He lives near Vaughn. Read more of his work at www.phsoutlook.com.

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