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Wolf senior Jill Prince brings the power at the net. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Spikes, spikes for everyone.

The top four hitters for the Coupeville High School varsity volleyball squad are separated by just four kills, with a fifth Wolf just 10 put-aways away from being tied for the top spot.

Kills, along with solo blocks, and block assists, are the most competitive of the six stats I’m tracking this season.

The other three — assists, digs, and service aces — have more clearcut front-runners, though the numbers can shift and change as the season plays out.

With five matches in the books, a look at the season stat sheet for the 12 Wolves to appear in a varsity match:

 

Player Kills Digs Block-Solo Block-Assist Assists Aces
Maddie Georges 5 33 98 26
Alita Blouin 2 80 6 6
Lyla Stuurmans 26 26 2 1 3
Ryanne Knoblich 32 40 1 1 12
Mia Farris 35 3 3 3
Jill Prince 32 3 2 3
Grey Peabody 36 3 1 2
Madison McMillan 3 8 4
Taygin Jump 2 22 2 2
Katie Marti 1 4 5
Issabel Johnson
Jada Heaton 1 2

The volleyballs which help fine-tune Coupeville’s game. Practice makes perfect. (Jackie Saia photo)

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Madison McMillan (14) gave Coupeville a huge emotional boost off the bench against Orcas Island. (Delanie Lewis photo)

Do you believe in miracles? Because that was a freakin’ miracle.

Trailing two sets to one and down 16-3 in the fourth set Thursday, the Coupeville High School varsity volleyball squad looked dead in the water.

The Wolves were about to lose on their home floor to Orcas Island, and it would have been the first time the CHS spikers fell to a Northwest 2B/1B League school that wasn’t three-time defending state champ La Conner.

It was signed, sealed, and all but delivered.

You could see it in the faces of many of the players, who had fought valiantly but also suffered through some crushingly bad stretches at times.

You could hear it in the mutters of the fans, as even the Wolf grandma endlessly hollering “I BELIEVE IN YOU!!!” had a notable strain in her voice.

But people believe in miracles because they do happen in sports, and often at the most unlikely of times.

Spurred on by sophomores Madison McMillan and Katie Marti, who roared off the bench and sent a jolt of electricity through a tired-looking Wolf team, Coupeville did the seemingly impossible.

It came back, all the way back, pulling out a 25-27, 25-19, 20-25, 25-23, 15-13 stunner to cap a night which was alternately brutal and beautiful.

The victory lifts the Wolves to 3-0 in league play, 3-2 overall, and leaves them alone atop the NWL standings.

It left CHS coach Cory Whitmore — in need of a nap and knowing a long bus ride to Forks arrives Saturday — looking bemused.

Happy to get the W, but well aware the Wolves largely put themselves in the hole they had to dig back out of against Orcas.

“They showed a lot of resiliency,” he said. “We found a way late to return to our identity, and were more efficient, with less service errors, and that was super important.”

The positive jolt offered by his super subs can’t be overstated.

“I am so impressed with how Katie and Madison stepped on to the court like they had being doing it for years,” Whitmore said.

“Also, Taygin (Jump) was strong with her jump serve and was tough when she needed to hit certain spots.

“She helped give us a lot of energy, which we needed.”

The match turned, though hardly anyone knew it in the moment, with a small flip of the ball, as Alita Blouin proved Coupeville still had some daggers with which to inflict pain.

Orcas had rung up 11 straight points to stake itself to that 16-3 lead in the fourth set, but Blouin finally stopped the bleeding, sliding the ball between two defenders to earn a side out.

From there, the comeback began, step by step.

Jump, McMillan, and Marti went on runs at the service stripe, with Grey Peabody, Ryanne Knoblich, and Jill Prince rising up at the net to smash winners.

Ryanne Knoblich made her mom proud with some thunderous spikes. (Delanie Lewis photo)

Coupeville ran off its own 15-2 surge to knot things at 18-18, but Orcas, a tough, scrappy team, didn’t break.

The Vikings, though pushed back on their heels, responded, reclaiming the lead and pushing it out to 23-21.

Two points away from losing the match, the Wolves had to find their inner mojo, and they did.

Knoblich and McMillan whacked back-to-back spikes, the balls skidding away from their Orcas rivals, before Coupeville’s defense closed out the set with a strong stand.

Given new life, and with a new buzz in their between-sets huddle, the Wolves claimed control early in the fifth, and final, set.

Jumping out to a 4-1 lead, CHS wasn’t out of the woods, however, as Orcas fought back to go up 7-6 as the two teams raced to see who could net 15 points first.

A revived Peabody was the difference down the stretch, coming up big at the net with three winners, while McMillan was dominant at the service stripe.

Clinging to a 14-13 lead and with Orcas serving, Coupeville held fast on the last rally of the night.

In a fitting finale, the two squads went back-and-forth, the ball skipping from hand to hand, before the Wolves forced the Vikings into a final, fatal error.

That set off a celebration which was equal parts joy and relief, capping a match which was the most-intense of the still-young season.

Things started hot in the first set, with big swings, both in intensity and the score.

Orcas went up by six points, Coupeville stormed back to build its own five-point advantage, and then things got dicey at the end.

The Wolves benefitted from some nasty slicers delivered by Lyla Stuurmans and a fantastic play in which Blouin scraped a thunderous spike off the floor, flicking it skyward to set teammate Mia Farris up to deliver a winner.

But it was Orcas, holding off two set points, which pulled away at the end, closing the set with a service ace which looked like it was long gone, only to suddenly drop and tear off the back line.

Coupeville scrambled back into contention in the second set but had to put out a lot of effort along the way.

The Wolves trailed for much of the frame, only going in front for good after Maddie Georges turned an 18-18 tie into a 23-18 lead with some artful slicing ‘n dicing from the service line.

Stuurmans, bounding to the ceiling, froze the defense with an artful tip winner for a punctuation mark at 25-19, knotting things at a set apiece.

CHS couldn’t hold on to a lead in the third set, contributing to that hole it eventually had to dig back out of, but it wasn’t for a lack of effort.

Marti and Jump made eye-popping saves on balls which should have been Orcas winners, with the former smashing into the floor and the latter running up into the stands.

Both of those track-down jobs were promptly converted into Wolf winners as Coupeville caught the Vikings in premature celebrations.

 

Thursday stats:

Alita Blouin — 1 kill, 15 digs, 1 ace
Mia Farris — 2 kills
Maddie Georges — 2 kills, 7 digs, 34 assists, 3 aces
Taygin Jump — 7 digs, 1 assist, 1 ace
Ryanne Knoblich — 14 kills, 7 digs, 1 solo block
Katie Marti — 1 kill, 3 digs, 2 aces
Madison McMillan — 2 kills, 6 digs
Grey Peabody — 9 kills, 2 digs, 1 solo block
Jill Prince — 8 kills, 1 dig
Lyla Stuurmans — 5 kills, 8 digs

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Grier Mooney and Coupeville’s JV spikers rolled to a quick win against Orcas Island. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

They were ruthless.

Knowing Orcas Island needed to get out of town by a reasonable time to catch the ferry home, the Coupeville High School JV volleyball squad rolled to a victory in record time Thursday night.

Playing second, after the varsity match went a full five sets, the young Wolves crushed the Vikings 25-8, 25-11.

The victory lifts Coupeville to 3-0 in Northwest 2B/1B League play, 4-1 overall.

The Wolves get their own long trip Saturday, when they trek off to the wilds of Forks for a non-conference tilt.

Thursday’s match was all about power, as Coupeville blistered the ball and Orcas had few answers.

The Wolves rained down 18 aces, while ending most rallies with a mere hit or two.

Katie Marti, who opened the match by peppering Orcas with her nasty serve, had the put-away of the match midway through the first set.

Bounding airborne, the CHS sophomore reached back way over her head to corral a ball trying to evade her arm, then lashed a spike which bit the court with a vengeance, tearing up little chunks of wood in the process.

Or at least it felt that way.

While the CHS gym floor remained largely intact, the Wolves also got big hits from Madison McMillan and Issabel Johnson, plus a beautiful drop shot off the fingers of Taylor Brotemarkle.

Look away for a hot second to answer a question from someone else in the stands, and when you looked back, Coupeville had strung together another 4-5 points in the blink of an eye.

That brought a smile to the face of coach Ashley Menges and sent everyone ankling to the exits in record time.

On to bat country for the red-hot JV spikers!

 

Thursday stats:

Taylor Brotemarkle — 1 kill, 1 assist
Teagan Calkins — 6 aces
Jada Heaton — 1 assist
Issabel Johnson — 2 kills, 3 assists
Katie Marti — 4 kills, 1 digs, 6 assists, 10 aces
Madison McMillan — 4 kills, 2 aces

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Jada Heaton cranks up the ace machine. (Delanie Lewis photo)

The bus ride didn’t bother them.

Firing on all cylinders, the Coupeville High School JV volleyball squad shrugged off the 90-mile jaunt to Darrington Tuesday, crushing the Loggers in straight sets.

Winning 25-7, 25-11, 25-15, the young Wolves improve to 2-0 in Northwest 2B/1B League play, 3-1 overall, with a home match against Orcas Island Thursday next up on the schedule.

For third-year head coach Ashley Menges, the night was a long one, but also a very rewarding one.

“It was a very cohesive night, with everyone doing their job and just playing clean, which is usually our goal each game,” she said.

Aby Wood peppered Darrington’s defense, racking up four kills. (Delanie Lewis photo)

With star hitter Madison McMillan sitting out the third set so she’d be eligible to play up to three frames in the varsity contest, Menges shuffled her lineup in the finale and got the same great results.

“We switched some things around and even then, everyone just did their job and helped each other through the confusion,” Menges said.

“All in all, it was a solid game and a solid three sets, and I’m very happy to see that so early into the season.”

 

Tuesday stats:

Taylor Brotemarkle — 1 kill, 3 digs, 1 assist, 5 aces
Carly Burt — 1 dig
Teagan Calkins — 6 kills, 3 digs, 1 ace
Jada Heaton — 5 kills, 1 dig
Katie Marti — 3 kills, 1 dig, 19 assists, 9 aces
Madison McMillan — 3 kills, 3 digs, 9 aces
Grier Mooney — 2 aces
Aby Wood — 4 kills, 2 digs, 1 ace

Katie Marti knows her stat line looks sweet. (Jackie Saia photo)

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Sophomore Lyla Stuurmans pounded 11 kills Tuesday, sparking Coupeville to a win at Darrington. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

They’re battle-tested.

Bouncing back from a slow start Tuesday at Darrington, the Coupeville High School varsity volleyball team roared back to chop down the host Loggers.

Paced by 11 kills apiece from big-hitting sophomores Lyla Stuurmans and Mia Farris, the Wolves eventually won 20-25, 25-18, 25-17, 25-15.

The victory lifts Coupeville to 2-0 in Northwest 2B/1B League play and evens its season mark at 2-2.

Both Wolf losses were tense affairs with bigger 1A schools.

Tuesday’s victory was a milestone, marking the 100th match for coach Cory Whitmore at CHS.

Now in his seventh season at the helm of the Wolves, he’s led his team to a 68-32 mark, accounting for the second-best winning percentage of any CHS program between 2016 and 2022.

And it’s a nailbiter, with Wolf softball going 83-38 for a .686 mark under Kevin McGranahan, nipping volleyball’s .680.

Though, with 10 more matches on the schedule, plus potential playoff rumbles, the spikers could be on top by season’s end.

Tuesday night Whitmore’s focus, as always, was firmly locked in the moment.

“Definitely another test for us tonight, but one with us coming out on top,” he said.

After bouncing across the countryside in a bus for 90 miles, then sitting through the JV contest, the Wolves needed a bit of time to snap into gear.

“We came out flat in the first set, trading points,” Whitmore said. “We took care of the ball pretty well but just didn’t come out firing and they did.

“After dropping the first we then got going a bit, finishing rallies and forcing them into tough hitting situations,” he added.

“It was fun to see a couple players kick it into high gear to help spark us to the win.”

Mia Farris (6) matched Stuurmans with 11 kills. (Jackie Saia photo)

Whitmore praised senior setter Maddie Georges for “serving up tough strings of points to push our gaps,” while the young guns all chipped in with strong work.

Madison McMillan came off the bench to serve tough and confident,” he said. “After a bit of a slow start, Mia Farris got going with high hard hits sparking our wins in the third and fourth in particular.

Grey Peabody struggled a bit in the first and second but found her rhythm in the fourth, especially with some strong connections,” Whitmore added.

“I was proud to see Lyla Stuurmans remain consistent all night on the attack and she ended up tying for kills leader.”

Showing the grit to turn a bit of a nailbiter into a solid victory, especially deep on the road, should benefit the Wolves going forward.

“All-in-all, it was a team effort to get out of there with a win,” Whitmore said. “And we are happy to be back at home Thursday.”

Coupeville hosts Orcas Island, with varsity tipping at 3:30 PM, followed by the JV in the night’s finale.

 

Tuesday stats:

Alita Blouin — 17 digs, 3 assists, 2 aces
Mia Farris — 11 kills, 1 block assist
Maddie Georges — 1 kill, 7 digs, 36 assists, 3 aces
Taygin Jump — 1 kill, 6 digs, 1 ace
Ryanne Knoblich — 6 kills, 4 digs, 3 aces
Madison McMillan — 2 aces
Grey Peabody — 7 kills, 1 block assist
Jill Prince — 9 kills, 1 solo block
Lyla Stuurmans — 11 kills, 4 digs

Senior supernova Alita Blouin continues to fill up the stat sheet. (Bailey Thule photo)

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