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When he wasn’t walking the line, Wolf dad Brian Vick documented the CHS volleyball season with pics and video. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

The Wolf varsity, together as a team one last time at Tuesday’s season-ending awards banquet. (Jennifer Menges photo)

With all due respect to soccer, tennis, cheer, cross country and football, the fall belonged to volleyball.

The Coupeville High School spikers had the best record of any Wolf squad, went the furthest in the postseason, and, seem to be the only team with their own hype man.

Brian Vick, dad of high-flyin’ twins Willow and Raven, shot a ton of footage as the season unfolded.

Tuesday night he unveiled his magnum opus, a seven-minute tribute to the Wolf sisterhood of the traveling volleyball, at the team’s season-ending banquet.

Now, thanks to papa Vick dropping his work on YouTube, everyone in Wolf Nation can see what he put together.

And, as they watch, everyone should take it as a challenge.

We want hype videos for every CHS team going forward. Every single one, I said!

 

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Coupeville senior Ashley Menges (left) and junior Lucy Sandahl both captured Most Inspirational awards at Tuesday’s volleyball banquet. (Ema Smith photo)

Maya Toomey-Stout is a rare athlete.

“The Gazelle,” among her many, many skills, has the ability to generate an often eye-popping amount of power on the volleyball court, all while coming back down to Earth.

Hitters usually generate their court-exploding spikes moving forward, leaping into the fray, their power surging out in front.

And Toomey-Stout lashes like a wild woman when she explodes from deep on the court, propelling herself towards the net like an avenging angel.

But she also can do what most can not, which is to elevate in the air to a ridiculous height, hang there for an eternity, and then reach over her head, snagging a wayward volleyball.

When she does, Toomey-Stout rarely flicks or stabs at the ball, but instead whips her hand in a loop, generating almost as much power – and as many put-aways – when she’s seemingly helpless, as when she’s clearly attacking.

That rare ability to be a sniper in any and all circumstances has netted “The Gazelle” the shrieks of die-hard fans, as well as big props from coaches near and far.

Toomey-Stout, a junior, was a First-Team All-Conference pick this season, and Tuesday she bounded away with the varsity MVP award.

Closing out his third season at the helm of the Wolves, CHS coach Cory Whitmore (with an assist from JV guru Chris Smith) doled out awards and letters as their squads enjoyed a final banquet.

 

All-Conference:

Emma Smith (1st Team)
Scout Smith (2nd Team)
Maya Toomey-Stout (1st Team)

 

Varsity team awards:

MVP — Maya Toomey-Stout
Most Inspirational — Ashley Menges
Most Improved — Zoe Trujillo
Spirit of a Wolf — Emma Mathusek

 

JV team awards:

MVP — Raven Vick
Most Inspirational — Lucy Sandahl
Most Improved — Izzy Wells

 

Varsity letter winners:

Hannah Davidson
Emma Mathusek
Ashley Menges
Chelsea Prescott
Emma Smith
Scout Smith
Maya Toomey-Stout

 

Participation certificates:

Noelle Daigneault
Anya Leavell
Ivy Leedy
Jaimee Masters
Abby Meyers
Abby Mulholland
Lucy Sandahl
Zoe Trujillo
Kylie Van Velkinburgh
Raven Vick
Willow Vick
Maddie Vondrak
Izzy Wells
Eryn Wood

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Casie Greve has stepped down as CMS 8th grade volleyball coach. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Casie Greve is leaving the gym, but not the school.

The popular Coupeville Middle School volleyball coach has stepped down after four seasons in the program.

Greve, who is an English teacher at CMS, is remaining at the school.

“She’s (just) moving into a different phase and she won’t have time to coach right now,” said Coupeville Athletic Director Willie Smith.

After stepping in as the 7th grade coach in 2015, Greve eventually moved up to coach the 8th grade team in recent years.

Her squads were always competitive, and her coaching laid the groundwork as Wolf players prepared to make the transition to the high school program.

Plus, she always responded to emails and was quick to deliver info, even when it probably seemed like I was nagging.

On the bench or in the classroom, Greve has always been first-rate, and we here at Coupeville Sports thank her and wish her the best.

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Coupeville senior Emma Smith capped her stellar prep career by being named a First-Team All-League pick by North Sound Conference volleyball coaches. (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

Scout Smith (left) and Maya Toomey-Stout (right) were also honored.

Coaches like ’em. They really like ’em.

Coupeville High School landed three All-Conference picks and the Coach of the Year when North Sound Conference volleyball gurus sat down to vote.

The Wolves, who finished second in league play at 7-3, trailing just defending state champ King’s, put senior middle blocker Emma Smith and junior outside hitter Maya Toomey-Stout on the 1st team.

Junior setter Scout Smith was tabbed as a 2nd team All-Conference nod, while Cory Whitmore was picked by his peers as the coach with the most.

Fifteen girls were honored, led by league MVP Dominique Kirton of King’s.

The All-Conference squads, presented in alphabetic order:

 

1st Team All-Conference:

Noelle Alberda – King’s – 10 – Middle Blocker
Emma Leggett – South Whidbey – 12 – Outside Hitter
Ava Mason – King’s – 11 – Setter
Baily McCutchen – King’s – 12 – Outside Hitter
Kaya Nelson – Cedar Park – 10 – Libero
Emma Smith – Coupeville – 12 – Middle Blocker
Maya Toomey-Stout – Coupeville – 11 – Outside Hitter

 

2nd Team All-Conference:

Emma Hodson – South Whidbey – 10 – Middle Blocker
Chloe Johnson – South Whidbey – 12 – Setter
Irena Korolenko – Cedar Park – 11 – Outside Hitter
Abigail Miller – Sultan – 10 – Outside Hitter
Jenny Rodenbaugh – Granite Falls – 11 – Middle
Adair Rosenau – King’s – 12 – Libero
Scout Smith – Coupeville – 11 – Setter

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Team, from first serve to last point. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

The volleyball hung in the air for a brief, tantalizing moment.

One more chance, one more play, one more rally, one more opportunity to write a happy ending to this tale.

Then it was gone, the ball splashing down inches away from the net, squirting away between outstretched hands. A perfectly-placed tip for one team, and perfect agony for the other.

And with that, a season of joy came to a sudden close Tuesday for the Coupeville High School spikers, with the wrong team celebrating in the cramped Lynden Christian Middle School gym after a tense, thrilling, five-set, two-hour-plus loser-out playoff match.

In a brawl of fire and fury, of sensational saves and remarkable poise under pressure, Nooksack Valley, a battle-hardened 1A team which survived playing in a league chock-full of 2A and 3A schools, nipped the Wolves 25-19, 20-25, 23-25, 25-19, 15-13.

With that win, and a four-set romp over South Whidbey immediately afterwards, the Pioneers claimed the #3 seed from District 1, and advance to bi-districts Saturday, two wins away from a trip to state.

For the Wolves, for senior leaders Emma Smith and Ashley Menges, who gave everything they had to the program over the course of four seasons, and for the talented underclassmen who signal a bright future, the seasons ends.

Coupeville exits at 11-5, the third-straight season the Wolves have finished with double-digit wins under coach Cory Whitmore.

After dominating the Olympic League the past two seasons, CHS helped inaugurate the new North Sound Conference this year.

With three of six league teams having made the state tourney in 2017, including the champs, King’s, the level of play in their new home was greatly elevated, but the Wolves responded.

They swept a pair of matches from their Island rivals, were one of just three teams to take a set from King’s in the regular season, and claimed second-place in the standings.

Having split their first two matches at the district tourney Saturday (narrowly falling to Meridian before eliminating Cedar Park Christian), the Wolves headed back to Lynden Tuesday needing just one win to advance.

What they got with Nooksack was a full-on royal rumble, a brawl between two extraordinarily-even teams.

Time and again, players on both squads made truly startling saves, keeping rallies alive long after the odds said they should have ended.

If the same two squads meet tomorrow, it’s very likely Coupeville comes out on top.

Keep playing, World Series-style, in a best four-of-seven affair, and it’s anyone’s guess which team prevails.

The opening set was a perfect example, as the Wolves and Pioneers staged 10 ties, from 1-1 up to 14-14.

Maya Toomey-Stout got things poppin’ when she lofted a shot up and over the heads of the entire Nooksack defense, the ball seemingly headed out of bounds.

Instead, it suddenly tailed off — just as “The Gazelle” planned — miraculously dropping and catching the final flake of paint on the end line, causing the line judge to jump out of his shoes as the large Nooksack crowd wailed in unison.

From there, the opening set was a battle of attrition.

Scout Smith jumped high, then banked home a lil’ sky hook for a winner, Chelsea Prescott came roaring in from the left side to absolutely paste the air out of the ball on a spike, and Emma Smith used her long reach to flick the ball where the defense wasn’t.

Unfortunately, Nooksack was also adept at dropping little pokes and tips into the gaps, and the Pioneers swung things their way with an 11-5 run to break the 14-all tie.

While they weren’t happy about dropping the opening frame, the Wolves didn’t let it slow their roll.

Bouncing right back, with Emma Smith patrolling the skies ruthlessly, using the very top of her fingertips to snuff out would-be kills, CHS hung tough, then made its move.

Trailing 14-11, the Wolves went on a 5-0 run to reclaim the lead, then never gave it back.

Strong service runs from both of the Smith “sisters,” Scout and Emma, kick-started things, a couple of lasers from Toomey-Stout scattered the defense, then Coupeville got dynamic to seal the deal.

Two sensational saves on what should have been kills for Nooksack — one from Emma Mathusek, the other from the tag-team of Prescott and Scout Smith, who both punched the ball with outstretched fists — set up the Wolf big hitters.

Closing on a 14-6 run, the Wolves had the momentum, and they hammered the pedal through the metal in the third set.

Once they had the lead, and it came early at 2-1 when an Emma Smith block keyed a booming kill from Toomey-Stout, who leaped almost high enough to clear the net, they never gave it back.

Hannah Davidson, who was an artful tipper all night, sent one pretty winner skidding past the defense, but saved her best bit of ninja work for crunch time.

With Nooksack charging back from down 19-14 to knot things at 23-23, the collars on the shirts of Wolf coaches Whitmore and Chris Smith were tightening big time.

Enter Davidson, who stuffed a Nooksack shot to put CHS back in the lead, before pulling off a ballet move which ended with another tip winner, to seal the third set and set off a team-wide celebration.

Wolf bench players Raven Vick, Lucy Sandahl, Zoe Trujillo, Willow Vick and Maddie Vondrak, who were vocal all night, rushed to meet the incoming players and the party was on.

And then the party was off, as Nooksack came out to open the fourth set and played its best ball of the night.

Through three sets, Coupeville had won 69 points to 68 from the Pioneers, but things took a sickening turn as Nooksack surged out to a 15-6 lead.

Other than one spike on which Emma Smith cranked it up and opened a can of whup-ass on the ball, it was shaping up as a set to forget, or, maybe, one in which you take the film, burn it, and bury it in a landfill.

But, as they proved all season, these Wolves are resilient.

After a Nooksack serve sailed so long it almost left the gym, Coupeville handed the ball to Scout Smith, and the splendid setter promptly went off on the longest run on serve of any player, on either team, all night.

With some help from Prescott, who won a mid-air tip battle, forcing the ball up and over her rival’s hand, a little scrambling defense from a charged-up Menges and a lot of mashin’ by Emma Smith, the Wolves ran off seven straight points.

Scout Smith did most of her damage by making sure she kept her serves in play, then relying on her team’s attack, but “Scooter” also zipped one ace which ripped skin off of a Nooksack player’s unlucky hand.

The comeback, as unexpected and inspired as it was, never fully got over the hump, however.

Coupeville, which was being waxed, got back within a single point three times, with the final time coming at 17-16, but couldn’t regain the lead.

To give credit where it’s due, it wasn’t Wolf errors which denied them down the stretch in the fourth frame, but Nooksack winners.

The Pioneers came with everything they had, and it was just a little more than CHS wanted to give up.

And that was how the fifth, and final, set went down as well.

Toomey-Stout lashed a looping, curling streak of lightning that bit off the back end of the line for a winner, Davidson had yet another tip winner and Coupeville’s senior duo went out battling with everything they had.

Down 12-9 in a race to 15 points, the Wolves forced a 13-13 tie with Emma Smith and Menges firing serves which resulted in the final Wolf points of the season, and their stellar careers.

The stage was set for an emotional finale, and the teams delivered.

Two final plays, rallies which went back-and-forth and sucked the oxygen out of lungs on both sides of the net, and then it was over.

One team cried with joy, one group of fans screamed with glee.

If we knew the Nooksack girls personally, knew their stories, their hopes and dreams and plans for the future, and if their joy didn’t come at the expense of our town’s young women, it would probably be easy to be happy for them.

The Pioneers played their hearts out. They earned their win.

But this isn’t Nooksack Sports.

The team I watched play all season hails from Coupeville, and while I wanted a win for them, I also know this loss isn’t the end.

The 12 young women on this Wolf volleyball team are too talented, too bright, outgoing and intelligent, too full of potential, to have the rest of their lives defined by one volleyball match.

When they look back, in a few days, in a few months, in a few years, after they have conquered other worlds, and are achieving great things, I hope they remember several things.

What it felt like to be part of a team playing as one, each young woman pushing themselves to their limits, and sometimes beyond.

Playing through taped-up hands, hurting knees, aching backs, refusing to bend no matter the name on the front of the other team’s jersey.

The times and moments that were yours and only yours, that didn’t belong to the fans, or the parents, or your classmates.

The time spent on buses, on ferries, late-night trips when it was just you and your coaches and the bus driver, slashing through the night.

Tuesday night, as the team headed home, the bus stopped at a mall and the Wolves took over the food court, bouncing between Panda Express, Two Guys Burgers and Subway.

There were tears, there were giggles, there was sadness in a season ending, in the high school volleyball careers of Menges and Emma Smith coming to a close.

But there was also pride, in individual accomplishment and team achievement, and there was a closeness you don’t see with every team.

As they strolled back to their bus, dodging rain drops, but clumped together, forever a team, and not just a random group of individuals, one thing was obvious.

I was watching winners walk away, and no scoreboard will ever change that.

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