When the volleyball season started in early September at Gig Harbor High School, coach Melissa Klein knew she’d have to keep a ball pump handy, and the players knew she’d need to use it.
“All the balls are flat by the third day of practice,” said senior outside hitter Hannah Yerex. “It’s because (Hadassah Ward) hits them too hard. She’s a beast.”
Is that an exaggeration or actually the truth?
“It’s probably about 95 percent true,” Ward said, with a laugh.
If Yerex and senior outside hitter Lauren Hatfield get points by picking their spots, Ward, a state shot put champion and right-side hitter for the volleyball squad, uses brute force.
“Honestly, I don’t really go for spots,” Ward said matter-of-factly.
She doesn’t need to. With the velocity the ball leaves her hand, even the best blockers in the area are often helpless.
“I just know to swing away and I can either hit it off their hands and it’ll go out of bounds or it’ll go straight through their hands.”
Ward’s power, coupled with Hatfield and Yerex’s experience and moxie, makes the Tides’ offense difficult for defenses to stop. Gig Harbor boasts a 9-1 record on the year and has only lost four games in those matches. Ward has been a big part of that success.
“It makes it tough (on opposing defenses),” Klein said. “She can run so many things, she can run things on the right side, come around and run things out of the middle. She always hits really hard. And she blocks the ball well, too. That’s a game changer for us.”
A lot of volleyball teams have quality outside hitters. But fewer teams at the high school level can score kills from so many different spots.
“It’s really rare to have a really good right side,” Hatfield said. “So for us, having Hadassah is a special treat. She’s amazing. She knows what do. She doesn’t lose her head. She analyzes but at the same time, gets fired up and knows how to bring the team together.”
Gig Harbor has five remaining games on the season, before trying to make another deep postseason run in the Class 3A state tournament.