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Chelsea Prescott floats like a butterfly, stings like a bee. (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

Maddie Vondrak (left) and Scout Smith get pumped-up during pregame introductions.

Hannah Davidson plays Tip War with a feisty rival.

Zoe Trujillo administers a no-fly zone for incoming volleyballs.

Why yes, since you asked, Lucy Sandahl did bring enough candy for everyone.

Ignoring the pain of a black eye, Smith prepares to launch a blistering attack.

Emma Mathusek rolls out, ready to be amazing.

Maya Toomey-Stout warms up her spike-happy hands by gettin’ some love from her teammates.

The action ends, but the photos never do.

The Coupeville High School volleyball season wrapped a few days back, but I continue to work through a backlog of pics.

So, here’s another batch dedicated to a Wolf varsity squad which tied the program’s all-time single-season win record, rolling up 14 victories this fall.

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Lucy Sandahl leads off a final batch of CHS volleyball portraits. (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

Jessica Ross-McMahon

Willow Vick

Krimson Rector

Zoe Trujillo

Wolf juniors (l to r) Kylie Chernikoff, Maddie Vondrak, and Chelsea Prescott.

Emma Mathusek

We’ve got time for a little more face time.

While the Coupeville High School volleyball season has come to a close, I still have a handful of portraits which I haven’t run yet on the blog.

So, some light reading for your Friday morning.

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Emma Mathusek celebrates after helping her team win a key point. (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

Maya Toomey-Stout elevates.

Raven Vick launches another ace.

Zoe Trujillo flies out of the gym.

Lucy Sandahl, Miss Consistency at the service line, remains flawless.

Maddie Vondrak rocks ’em at the net.

Wolf fans bring the love.

Fab frosh Lucy Tenore denies a would-be winner.

John Fisken had plenty of time to snap photos.

With the Coupeville High School volleyball squad playing a pair of five-set brawls Tuesday night at the District 1 tourney, the action stretched on for hours.

While the final scores didn’t come out in favor of the Wolves, the pics Fisken shot did.

To see everything he snapped, and maybe buy some glossies for Gram and Gramps, pop over to:

https://www.johnsphotos.net/Sports/Coupeville-Volleyball/VB-2019-11-05-District-1-tournament/

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Coupeville senior Scout Smith, the ultimate warrior. (Charlotte Young photo)

Embrace the good times…

and remember the joy. (Brian Vick photos)

There was pain in the thousand-yard stares, in the slump of their shoulders, in the shiners under their eyes.

But there was pride, too.

Strong, feisty, whip-smart, deeply committed to each other, in good times and rough times, Coupeville’s varsity volleyball players were undone, but unbowed.

They were battered, exhausted, numb, trapped in an unfair ending to what has been a brilliant season.

But they never took a knee. They stood tall, as individuals and a team, united for life.

The eight splendid seniors on the Coupeville High School volleyball squad, their four fast-rising underclassmen teammates, and their coaching staff, didn’t get the reward they deserved Tuesday night.

A team which tied the program’s single-season win record fell twice in day two of the District 1 tournament, nipped in a pair of five-set thrillers in which the Wolves actually won more points than both their foes.

Up two sets to one in both matches, Coupeville couldn’t hold on against either dangerous Meridian or plucky Sultan, and fell just short of advancing to bi-districts.

The hurt is real, physical and emotional.

Speaking as an admittedly biased observer, the Wolves deserved to keep playing.

They left every last ounce of sweat on the court this season, fought with everything they had in their hearts and souls, both Tuesday and in the two months leading up to the finale.

Finishing 14-5, the 2019 Wolves tie the 2004 CHS squad for wins.

That they didn’t get to 15 victories stings.

But it doesn’t erase everything which came before.

It can’t, because these young women are too strong, too talented.

This season, this high school volleyball experience, was a huge part of their lives. The mix of joy and pain will be with them for a very long time.

Scout Smith. Zoe Trujillo. Maya Toomey-Stout. Willow Vick. Hannah Davidson. Raven Vick. Emma Mathusek. Lucy Sandahl. Lucy Tenore. Kylie Chernikoff. Chelsea Prescott. Maddie Vondrak.

Twelve young women who soared athletically.

Twelve young women who helped take their program to new heights, on and off the floor.

Twelve young women who reached out to the next generation of Coupeville spikers, through clinics and through the positive image they showcased each time they pulled on their Wolf uniforms.

Twelve young women, who I hope can embrace the words of their head coach, Cory Whitmore.

“We had a beautiful season, and our seniors had beautiful careers. I hope they remember the success they had and think of it fondly, instead of being fixated on how it ended.”

It was a season in which the Wolves went 8-2 in North Sound Conference play, losing only to undefeated King’s, claiming second-place in the six-team league for a second consecutive year.

Coupeville also prospered despite a lopsided schedule which sent it on the road for 11 of 19 matches, finishing a very-strong 9-2 in road rumbles.

The season ended for the Wolves in their own gyms, backed by the roar of a packed, pro-Coupeville crowd.

In the end, CHS held a 206-184 edge in points Tuesday, beating Sultan 107-89 and Meridian 99-95. It wasn’t enough, however.

Meridian, which hails from the always-tough 1A/2A/3A Northwest Conference, is led by splendid sophomore setter Malaysia Smith (daughter of former CHS boys basketball coach Anthony Smith), and upset Lynden Christian, the #4 ranked team in 1A, earlier this season.

And yet the Wolves almost took them down, before falling 25-22, 13-25, 17-25, 25-17, 15-10.

The opening frame set the tone for the match, with both teams swinging from their heels, swapping leads and highlight reel-worthy plays.

There were seven ties, the final at 21-21, and Coupeville had a four-point lead halfway through the set.

Sparked by a beautiful tip winner off of Davidson’s dangerous fingers, followed by back-to-back Earth-shaking kills by Trujillo, the Wolves were rumbling.

Meridian chased down a lot of shots which seemed like sure winners, however, and fought back to take the lead.

Proving they could also employ a bold, never-say-die style, the Wolves got a wicked service ace from Raven Vick, which crawled up a rival player’s arm and kissed her violently on the cheek as it skidded past.

Trujillo was playing out of her mind in the opening set, coming up with a sizzlin’ batch of kills, with the most electrifying one staving off a set point.

While Meridian escaped with a first-set win, Coupeville seized control of the match after that, using long, successful runs at the service line from Raven Vick, Toomey-Stout, and Prescott to thrash Meridian in the second frame.

Prescott, just recently returned to action after missing a month with a leg injury, ripped off eight straight points on her serve to ice the set.

She got some help from her teammates, with Smith making a spectacular save while flat on the floor, and Mathusek pulling another ball off the top of her shoelaces to keep a point alive.

With the crowd getting louder, and Meridian showing signs of cracking, the Wolves pushed their advantage in the third set, mixing zingers on their serve with mighty blasts on their kills.

Maddie Vondrak, living up to the potential nickname of “The Mad Masher,” abused the volleyball, then danced away, grinning and pumping her hands in the air, while Toomey-Stout flat-out knocked the air out of the orb with each hit.

But Meridian didn’t get to where it’s at by giving up, and the Trojans dug down deep to get back in the match.

Other than a couple sweet service winners from Sandahl, and a brutal slicer by Trujillo which peeled the skin off of a Meridian player’s arms as she tried, and failed, to return the ball, most of the fourth set highlights came courtesy the visitors.

All of which set up the first, but not last, fifth set the Wolves would play this season.

Mathusek, maybe the most underrated player on the roster, doesn’t get much of the stat glory, but she has been indispensable as the team’s libero.

The glue which holds together the Wolves, she was as good Tuesday as she’s ever been, and a play at the start of the final set showcased why.

Meridian had the point won, and yet Mathusek, sliding across the floor, got her fist under the ball at the last split-second, flipped it skyward, then narrowly avoided crashing into a falling teammate.

Given new life, the Wolves not only kept the play alive, but won the point, with Toomey-Stout pulling the trigger on a nasty kill a few second later.

Off to the side, Mathusek jumped, pumped her fist, then quietly went back to being quietly awesome, the perfect unsung, but not unrecognized, warrior.

A 3-0 lead for CHS slipped into a 3-3 tie, then 4-4, then 5-5, then 6-6, before things slipped away from the Wolves.

Davidson delivered a rolling roundhouse of a kill late, but it was one play, when Coupeville needed, and couldn’t quite find, two or three at the very end of crunch time.

Their backs to the wall after the loss, needing a win to keep their season alive and capture a ticket to bi-districts, the Wolves moved from the CHS gym to the smaller, steamier CMS gym, and showed no signs of a letdown.

But it wasn’t enough in a frustrating 26-24, 10-25, 13-25, 25-21, 15-12 loss that brought an unexpected end to a rollicking season.

Coupeville came out hot, stayed hot, and led through 98.7% of the first set.

It was just that last 1.3% which hurt, and hurt badly.

Up 23-17, the Wolves seemingly put point #24 in the books, only to have the Turks somehow scrape the ball off the floor, force an intense rally, and end things with a stunning block.

Given new life, Sultan shocked the fans, and even themselves a little bit, by closing the set on a 9-1 run, and suddenly Coupeville found itself in an unexpected hole.

To which the Wolves immediately responded, savaging the Turks in spectacular fashion over the next two sets.

The second frame was all-Prescott, all the time, as the Wolf junior opened the set with a scorching ace, then closed things with a run of 12 straight points on her serve.

That surge featured Tenore, the fab frosh who is the bright future of the program, delivering a knee-buckling kill, and Toomey-Stout erasing the back line from existence by blasting a winner which tore all the paint off said line.

If the second set was quick and brutal, the third set was almost identical, a merry mix of big hits from Vondrak, artful tips from Davidson, and superb serves from Raven Vick.

Victory was in sight, but the Turks, the #5 seed from the North Sound Conference, are the Cinderella team of these playoffs, having already eliminated third-seeded Cedar Park Christian.

Proving it wasn’t a fluke, Sultan toppled Coupeville, the #2 seed, by being patient, keeping everything in play, and getting some major paint peelers from its big hitter in the front row.

Coupeville trailed from start to finish in the fourth set, and while the Wolves held off four set points, this was a night which begged to go on and on forever.

Anxious to get their second and third set mojo back, the Wolves came up empty in the 10th set they played Tuesday night.

Playing to 15, there were three ties, at 6-6, 7-7, and, finally, 12-12, but otherwise Coupeville was fighting from behind at every other instance in the final frame.

Sultan lost its opener Tuesday in three quick sets to Nooksack Valley, and seemed far fresher at the end, with more of a spring in their collective steps.

The Wolves looked tired, and kills which once seemed automatic went long, or fell into the net at the very end.

Sandahl, making her final trip to the stripe as a high school player, gave CHS a fighting chance with a couple sharp serves, but Coupeville couldn’t hold off the end as it came creeping steadily closer.

The season closed with a loss, yes. But it didn’t close with losers.

Twelve young women, under the guidance of Whitmore and assistant coaches Chris Smith and Krimson Rector, rose to new heights.

Conquered new worlds.

Continued to lay the foundation for a resurgent program, winners of 49 varsity matches in the past four seasons, primed for more success moving forward.

They walked out of their gym winners, no matter what the scoreboard might say.

I hope they always remember that.

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Freshman Lucy Tenore had several big plays at the net Saturday as Coupeville High School volleyball opened district play. (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

Lucy Sandahl is one of eight Wolf seniors chasing a final run at spiker glory.

Saturday was a day of spikes, surprises and split decisions.

But mostly, it was a day of surviving.

Getting stronger as the afternoon unfolded, the Coupeville High School volleyball squad rebounded from a morning loss to Nooksack Valley and knocked arch-rival South Whidbey out of the district playoffs.

With the split — a 25-7, 25-15, 26-24 loss to the Pioneers followed by a 25-13, 25-16, 29-27 win over the Falcons — the Wolves advance to day two of districts, a win away from making it to bi-districts.

At 14-3, the current spikers tie the 2004 Wolf squad for the best single-season record in program history, and now get two shots on their home floor Tuesday to take sole possession of the record.

Coupeville plays Meridian at 5 PM, while Nooksack faces off with surprise qualifier Sultan (the Turks shocked Cedar Park Christian Saturday) at the same time.

One contest will be in the CHS gym, the other across the hall in the CMS gym.

The winners play at 6:30 in the 3rd/4th place contest, while the losers vie in the 5th/6th place showdown.

King’s and Lynden Christian, which both went 2-0 Saturday, square off in the district title match at 8 PM.

The top five finishers advance to bi-districts, which pit District 1 (North Sound Conference and Northwest Conference) against District 2 (Emerald City League).

That tourney has matches Nov. 7 and 9, with five berths to the state tourney at stake.

 

The brackets:

Districts:

http://www.nscathletics.com/tournament.php?tournament_id=3120&sport=10

Bi-Districts:

http://www.nscathletics.com/tournament.php?tournament_id=3129&sport=10

 

Saturday’s action was all about cutting eight teams down to six, and the Wolves spent the day camped out in Lynden Christian’s cramped middle school gym.

 

Nooksack Valley:

Something was terribly off at the start of this one, as a combination of nerves, an unfamiliar gym, the aftereffects of a bus ride, insufficient calories ingested pre-match, or the knowledge clocks would be turned back soon conspired to derail the Wolves.

The less said about the first set, the better, as nothing remotely worked for Coupeville.

A team which thrives on its service game didn’t score a point off a serve until it already trailed 24-6 and a sense of shell-shock pervaded the gym.

But then things steadily got better.

Chelsea Prescott, playing for the first time in nearly a month after working her way back from a terrible leg injury, gave the Wolves their first lead of the day at 2-1 in the second set.

While CHS ultimately couldn’t hold on to the early advantage, it did start to get much more consistent play.

Scout Smith and Hannah Davidson combined on a resounding block, Zoe Trujillo painted the back line with a winner, and Maddie Vondrak and Maya Toomey-Stout tip-toed through the air to deliver pretty lil’ tip winners.

Buoyed by a return to more of a normal state, the Wolves pushed the Pioneers hard in the final set.

Jumping out to a 7-1 lead on quality serving from Smith and Prescott, Coupeville held strong when Nooksack made a push to get back to 10-10.

A rolling roundhouse of a kill from Davidson was huge, while Smith peppered an ace off the very last bit of paint on the back line to force the final tie of the match, at 15-15.

While Nooksack started to slowly pull away, it couldn’t get the lead over one or two points until a late surge staked the Pioneers to a 24-20 lead.

Staring down an all-but-certain loss, the Wolves rose to the occasion, thrilling their coaching staff, and the large collection of CHS fans who traveled up towards Canada on a cool, but sunny weekend day.

Holding off four straight match points, Coupeville refused to break.

Zoe Trujillo delivered back-to-back big kills (the second set up by a sensational running save from Lucy Sandahl), Vondrak mashed the air out of the ball on another put-away, then Smith zipped another ace off the back line.

The Pioneers proved to be too powerful, but, even on the final point of the match, Wolf senior Emma Mathusek sold out, hitting the floor with a thunk while scraping the ball off the floor to give her team one final moment of life.

 

South Whidbey:

Having gone from awful to inspired across the three sets of the opening loss, Coupeville carried the momentum into their third match-up this season with their next door neighbors.

This one largely played out like the regular season bouts between the squads, with a game, but young, Falcon squad willing to scrap, but unable to slow down a veteran Wolf unit.

Raven Vick and Sandahl went on torrid runs at the service stripe in the opening set, punctuated by Toomey-Stout ripping off her jersey to reveal the Superman costume underneath.

Operating in full “Maya: Destroyer of Worlds” mode, she left scorch marks on the ball, her kills so explosive they scarred the psyches of not only the Falcon defenders, but also those of their yet-to-be-born children.

In the midst of the senior sensation being … sensational … Wolf freshman Lucy Tenore delivered some big-time moments as well, stuffing shots and slamming home winners.

After polishing off the first set in fairly short order, Coupeville kept revving the gas pedal in frame two, this time with Toomey-Stout unleashing aces from the service line.

The most-powerful of her cannon shots was an ace which literally bounced off a Falcon face, and the rout was on.

But give the scrappy Falcons credit, because they never quit and played quite well during a third set which turned out to be its own mini-classic.

The teams traded leads, big-time kills, and incredible hustle plays, but saved the best for the end.

Trailing 24-21 after a Toomey-Stout put-away, South Whidbey rallied to not only hold off three straight match points, but rebounded to claim the lead not once, not twice, but three times.

Proving just as resilient under pressure, Coupeville also refused to take a knee, holding off three set points as the Falcons tried to push things to a fourth set.

With both teams on edge, and both fan bases waging a war to see who could chew off their collective fingernails first, the match was decided by a player many thought we wouldn’t see Saturday afternoon.

Prescott, a three-sport star who combines silky smoothness with often startling power, took a nasty fall during Coupeville’s match with King’s in early October, and ended up with a ginormous knot on her ankle.

To the surprise of no one, she immediately began to work to return.

To the surprise of many, she overcame the reality of leg injuries, and actually made it back just in time for the postseason.

While she didn’t play all six positions Saturday, as CHS coach Cory Whitmore gently worked her back into the lineup, Prescott’s presence provided an emotional surge for the Wolves, and gave them back one of their most-dangerous weapons.

Stepping to the line with the score knotted at 27-27, the Wolf junior ended the match with a wham-bam-let’s-head-for-the-bus-and-then-Panda-Express combo.

Her first serve was returned into the net, her second was returned right onto the madly-swinging arm of Toomey-Stout, who hopped through the gym roof as she lashed a set, and match, ending kill.

South Whidbey is a quality team, with promising young stars in six-foot freshmen Morgan Batchelor and Isabelle Wood. The Falcons will be back, and they will be dangerous.

But this is the final ride for Coupeville’s eight splendid seniors — Sandahl, Smith, Toomey-Stout, Mathusek, Raven and Willow Vick, Trujillo, and Davidson — and they aren’t done just yet.

On to Tuesday, on to play one more time in their own gym, on to write another chapter in their best-selling tale.

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