The Gig Harbor High School volleyball team is on a roll, winning its last three matches against Central Kitsap, Shelton and Peninsula.
The Tides took all nine games during those matches, and boast a 3-1 overall record on the season heading into a tough week of league competition. Senior outside hitter Selena Dutton is a big reason why the Tides have been successful. She was Gig Harbor’s offensive player of the year last season, and has continued her strong output into her senior year.
Dutton, who is a Running Start student at Tacoma Community College, said she tries to lead by example.
“I’m more of a quiet person,” Dutton said. “I try to cheer up the team individually.”
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Teammate Hannah Yerex, a junior outside hitter who was named Gig Harbor’s defensive player of the year by the coaching staff a season ago, serves as the team’s pump-up force.
“She’s more energetic,” Dutton said of her teammate.
They may have different leadership styles, but both have been invaluable members of the team. If it weren’t for some pressure from her mother, Dutton may have never discovered her volleyball talent.
“I wasn’t athletic when I was younger,” she said. “My mom made me go to tryouts in sixth grade. Throughout the years, I started liking it a lot. I started working out more.”
Dutton is one of the several standout players on the team. Second-year coach Melissa Klein pointed to Yerex, as well as junior Lauren Hatfield and junior Hadassah Ward as impact players. Hatfield was named the team’s MVP last season.
“It’s awesome coaching this group of girls,” Klein said. “They bring so much energy to every practice. You don’t have to put in the effort to get them excited about volleyball, so that’s pretty great.”
Klein, who grew up in tiny Salmon, Idaho (population 3,112), said the team’s goal is to make it to the Class 3A state tournament this season. So far, she likes what she sees from this year’s group.
“I like how hard they work every practice,” Klein said. “When they come out onto the court, they come out with energy and focus. Really, they come out with a desire to win, which is awesome to see. Just solid play, too. Not making silly errors. Obviously, we have things we need to work on, but I just see us progressing, because they work so hard.”
With three wins in a row, the team is riding high early in the season.
“We’re definitely confident,” Dutton said. “We’re putting in a lot of effort, three-hour practices. Everyone is working their hardest every practice. Nobody doesn’t want to go to state. This year, everyone wants to push themselves further.”