By Lee Horton
Peninsula Daily News
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Hitter: Bailee Jones, Port Angeles
Hitter: Kiani Clissold, Quilcene
Hitter: Shannon Williams, Crescent
Back row: Kendra Harvey, Port Angeles
Back row: Megan Lee, Port Townsend
Back row: Megan Weller, Quilcene
Back row: Emma LeBlanc, Sequim
Setter: Megan Dukek, Chimacum
Setter: Alyse Armstrong, Sequim
Libero: Hannah Hudson, Sequim
Coach of the Year: Joni Crowell, Quilcene
“Beating Sequim to make state,” Hinrichs said.
The season was on the line, and Port Angeles was facing the rival Wolves. The winner moved on to state, the loser was done for the season.
It was the final game of the district tournament, and the Roughriders were playing their third match of the day and fourth in 24 hours.
But none of that mattered — not the busy day, the late start time or that the game went five sets.
“It wasn't really bad; it didn't matter what time it was,” Hinrichs, who has been chosen as the All-Peninsula Volleyball MVP, said.
“We really wanted it.”
The Riders came out on fire and opened with a convincing 25-17 win in the first game. They dropped the next two games by two points — 23-25 and 24-26 — before winning the fourth game 25-20 to set up the fifth-set showdown.
Again, Port Angeles started strong, scoring the first six points en route to a 15-6 state-clinching win.
“It was amazing,” Hinrichs said. “You can tell by looking at everyone's faces [in the picture in the newspaper] how happy we were.”
Roughriders coach Christine Halberg said that match was one of Hinrichs' finest moments.
Halberg said the outside hitter was focused throughout the match and “finding ways to get points.”
Another memory that sticks out in Halberg's mind was the way Hinrichs played in Port Angeles' district-opening win over Evergreen. That match, too, went five sets.
Hinrichs also had a team season-high 19 kills in a late-season matchup with North Kitsap, which went on to take fifth at state.
“She's an intense player, so she never gives up,” Halberg said.
Hinrichs not only thrived in big moments, she also didn't back down from taller opponents.
Listed as 5-foot-7, Hinrichs often had to battle taller players at the net, and more than held her own.
This added a nice wrinkle to the Riders' offense and forced opposing players to be more cautious.
“She made hitters go around her or not put it down as hard because they had to go over her,” Halberg said.
Part of this is Hinrichs' natural athleticism, which was bolstered by an improved vertical leap this past season that Hinrichs said came from working out and doing squats in practice.
She also credits timing and that she “had Bailee [Jones] helping in the middle.”
As a team captain, it was Hinrichs' job to be aware of her teammates' strengths and keeping the team together.
“I wanted to be more of a leader instead of just sitting back,” Hinrichs said of her senior season.
Halberg said Hinrichs led with actions and words of encouragement and enforcement.
“In practice, she was constantly pushing herself [to improve]. Other players would see that and say, 'I want to do that, too,'” Halberg said.
“She was really good at trying to bring the girls together and talking to them, if she thought there was slacking off or they needed a boost. She's not afraid to speak her mind. She's a good communicator.”
After the season, Hinrichs' teammates voted her team captain.
The Olympic League coaches chose her for the all-league first team.
“She's super-competitive, super-athletic and a good leader,” Halberg said.
“When you've got someone like Maddy, you're a step ahead. It's helpful to have that . . . pillar that everything can revolve around.
“It's hard to take a player like that off the court.”
Sports Editor Lee Horton can be reached at 360-417-3525 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.