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Posts Tagged ‘Ashley Menges’

Jaylen Nitta flies high enough to singe his hair on the gym ceiling lights. (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

Brayden Coatney fires a pass under the hawk-like gaze of clock guru Joel Norris.

Tony Garcia would just like you to get open, now.

CHS senior sports stars (clockwise, from bottom left) Lindsey Roberts, Emma Smith, Ashley Menges and Ema Smith show their support for Coupeville’s boys basketball C-Team.

Chris Cernick towers over the competition.

Nitta gets his team running, while Cernick and Jonathan Partida (right) give chase.

“And just where do you think you’re going?!?!”

Ben Smith gets down ‘n dirty.

It’s their turn in the spotlight.

The Coupeville High School boys basketball C-Team had sole possession of the big gym Thursday, hosting Mount Vernon and attracting wandering paparazzi.

The action photos seen above, with a cameo from Wolf female athletic stars in the crowd, come to us courtesy John Fisken.

To see everything he shot, and possibly purchase some glossies for the grandparents (or for yourself) pop over to:

https://www.johnsphotos.net/Sports/Coupeville-Basketball-2018-2019-boys-and-girls/BBB-2018-12-06-C-team-vs-Mt-Vernon/

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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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Maya Toomey-Stout rises and destroys. (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

Ashley Menges flies the friendly skies.

The Wolf student section is a group of many moods.

Hannah Davidson delivers a killer tip.

The rampagin’ Vick sisters, Raven (left) and Willow, wait to destroy another team.

Steve Kiel, the mack daddy of CHS volleyball.

Jaimee Masters gets the offense set up.

Peytin Vondrak (left) and Ema Smith, artistic smack talkers.

Right back at it.

Less than 24 hours after playing King’s Tuesday, the Coupeville High School volleyball squad was back on the floor Wednesday to face Sultan.

And right there, along with them, was travelin’ paparazzi to the stars John Fisken, who made it two nights in a row in Cow Town.

The pics above are courtesy him. To see everything he shot, pop over to:

https://www.johnsphotos.net/Sports/Coupeville-Volleyball-2018-2019/VB-2018-10-24-vs-Sultan/

When you do, remember that any purchases help fund scholarships for CHS senior student/athletes. Circle of life depends on you.

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Emma Smith (left) and Ashley Menges said farewell to their home court Wednesday, as Coupeville volleyball crushed Sultan on Senior Night. (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

They have lived their lives in the gym, together, as teammates, friends, and, ultimately, sisters from another mother.

Through wins and losses, on school teams and club squads, through endless practice drills, long journeys through the night on school buses and ferries, playing while sick, while hurting, while dealing with the encroachment of real life, they have persevered.

Together, they grew, they matured, they grew confident – as athletes, as students, and, most importantly, as friends.

I won’t tell you they got along perfectly every day of every month of every year. Even friends can argue, have moments when things aren’t flawless.

But I can tell you that pretty much every time we, the fans, saw them, on the court, or in real life, they seemed to take such joy in each other’s company.

Once there was a trio, and then Maddy Hilkey moved to soccer as a junior, and, on the volleyball court, at least, it became a duo.

Sports may have separated the three, with Emma Smith and Ashley Menges staying with volleyball, but, off the court, where it mattered most, they remain close-knit sisters for life.

Wednesday night, the two who remained spikers took the court at Coupeville High School for the final time.

There are still practices ahead, and a trip to the district tourney starting Saturday for a Wolf team which finished the regular season 10-3, with two of those losses coming to the defending state champs.

But Wednesday was the final time Menges and Smith played on their home court, their personal kingdom, their haven, in front of their classmates, their parents and their fans.

And they got the storybook ending they deserved.

Six years of work, of commitment, of growing from girls learning the sport to young women leading by example, in how they played and how they conduct themselves, culminated in a 25-8, 25-21, 25-19 romp over visiting Sultan.

The duo and Wolf coach Cory Whitmore have been part of three straight teams which have posted double-digit win totals.

The win, which ended with Menges reeling off three straight points at the service line – two scorching aces, then a hustle save by Menges which set up a winner by Hannah Davidson – brought the Wolves to 7-3 in league play.

After back-to-back Olympic League titles, Coupeville moved into the tougher North Sound Conference this season and finished 2nd in an often brutal six-team league.

The Wolves toppled arch-rival South Whidbey twice, pushed state champ King’s as hard as any 1A team has this season, and proved they could compete in any league.

Coming on the heels of 11 and 13-win seasons, this year’s total of 10 victories and counting gives CHS a 34-14 record during Cory Whitmore’s three-year run as coach.

Smith and Menges have been constants during that surge, bringing different skill sets to the floor, but the same love of the game.

The former uses her height to ruthlessly defend the net, stuffing would-be kills, then pounding winners that crack the psyche of her rivals.

The latter is a scrambler, a fighter, a hustler, body always in motion, the belief she can, and will, catch up to every runaway ball, no matter how far she has to fling her body, or how hard she has to hit the deck.

As seniors, the duo became captains, sharing duties with junior setter Scout Smith.

The seniors have been the first out of the locker room, the pair at the front of the line as the Wolves circle the floor to begin warm-ups.

All season, all career, they have played for their own success, certainly, but they have played for team above all.

“To my sisters, who others know as my teammates, I couldn’t imagine any other way for my senior year to go,” Menges wrote in her Senior Night remarks.

“I love each and every one of you so much and will cherish the memories I’ve made with all of you,” she added. “You girls have no limit and I believe in you all so much, and can’t wait to see what you all are able to do in your years to come.”

Menges hangs out with dad Terry, brother Cody and mom Jennifer.

It’s a sentiment shared by Emma Smith, as well.

“From the seniors my freshmen year, to the freshmen my senior year, without knowing it, every single one of you has inspired me,” she wrote.

“The commitment all of you had or have made me want to be a more committed player. The grit and passion all of you had or have made me want to have more grit and passion,” Smith added. “And finally, the love you had for the game has made me fall even more in love with it.”

The playoffs loom ahead for the duo, and there is always, tantalizingly in the background, the whisper of more playing days if either or both follow in the footsteps of former teammates and seek out a chance to play in college.

There will be fans who follow the Wolves on the road for the postseason, but Wednesday was a final chance to feel the full roar of the Coupeville faithful.

And the roar came, as Menges struck first, dropping a dagger of a winner while floating the length of the net.

With sophomore Chelsea Prescott ripping off nasty serve after nastier serve, Emma Smith rose to the moment.

She flung her arms skyward, rejected a Sultan shot, then bounded back up to smash the incoming reply, the first of three straight winners she lashed.

The third, and final, kill was a mix of unrelenting power and uncanny precision, landing in the very tiniest part of the far left corner and tearing a chunk out of reality itself as it detonated.

From there, the senior duo, and their younger teammates, picked the Turks apart, trailing only once in three sets, and then just by a single point.

Menges toasted the Turks for seven straight points on serve, with one epically nasty ace slicing a hunk of flesh off the would-be returner’s arm, before Maya Toomey-Stout closed out the opening set with another long, blistering run at the line.

Smith is joined by sister Savannah and mom Konni.

The second and third set were moderately closer, as Sultan fought with an intensity which belied their 1-9 mark in league play.

“They are a better team than their record might indicate, and have improved since the first time we played them,” Whitmore said.

While Sultan had spunk, Coupeville has killers, and that carried the Wolves through a few rough spots.

Prescott, who “did a great job in the front row,” was a sniper, smacking kills off Sultan arms, legs, and every other body part she could find.

Her fellow underclassmen on the floor — Toomey-Stout, Hannah Davidson, Scout Smith, Emma Mathusek, Maddie Vondrak and Lucy Sandahl — all sparkled.

Scout Smith doled out 16 assists, Toomey-Stout peeled the paint with 10 kills, and Prescott racked up six kills and nine digs, but the night belonged to the seniors.

Emma Smith had six kills, five aces (with several leaving Turk players with their mouths gaping wide open) and two blocks, while Menges notched five roasty, toasty aces, four digs and three kills.

But their impact, in this final home win, in the four years they spent in the CHS program, in the six years they have chased their volleyball dream, came from much more than mere stats.

In this one momentary (but not final) ending, as in the beginning, it was their spirit, their desire, their love of the game, of each other, and of their teammates, which mattered most.

That was shown when Sandahl momentarily broke down while offering a heartfelt pregame thank you to Menges.

A small sob caught in Lucy’s throat, but then a giant smile broke across her face, as all the positive memories she has shared with her mentor, teammate and friend rose up and pushed away any sadness.

And it echoes in the final words offered by Menges herself.

“You have all given me so much to be thankful for and I’ll miss being on the court with all of you.”

The dynamic duo.

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Hannah Davidson, elevating in an earlier game, played strongly Wednesday as CHS volleyball kept its hot streak alive. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Everybody steps up, every night.

That could be the mantra for the Coupeville High School volleyball squad, which solidified its hold on second-place in the North Sound Conference Wednesday with a gutsy four-set win at Granite Falls.

Playing without big-time masher Maya Toomey-Stout, who was home recuperating from an illness, the Wolves got strong work from other key players, and inspired play from “The Gazelle’s” replacement, Zoe Trujillo.

Pulling out a 25-13, 24-26, 25-18, 25-18 victory, Coupeville improves its record to 6-2 in league play, 9-2 overall.

That leaves the Wolves a game up on Cedar Park Christian (5-3) and two up on South Whidbey (4-4) with two to play in the battle for the league’s #2 playoff seed.

It also keeps alive the hope of the Wolves earning a share of the league title, at least mathematically.

Coupeville’s final regular-season matches are at home, Oct. 23 vs. King’s (8-0) and Oct. 25 against Sultan (0-8), when the Wolves will honor seniors Ashley Menges and Emma Smith.

Win both and have King’s be toppled by CPC in its finale, and CHS would finish in a dead-heat with the defending 1A state champs.

While Wolf fans daydream, Coupeville’s players will have five days to rest, kick various bugs and prep for the big match-up with the Knights.

Toomey-Stout and her uncanny ability to elevate, hang in mid-air for an eternity, then devastate the ball, should be back in the lineup when that royal rumble goes down.

Wednesday night, though, the other Wolves rose up and filled her (missing) shoes.

In the case of Trujillo, literally.

Zoe did a great job filling in for Maya and taking on a strong role playing all the way around,” said Coupeville coach Cory Whitmore, who is now 33-13 in his three years at the helm of the Wolf program.

“I’m proud of this group adapting and raising the level of play in order to compensate not having a key player.”

The Wolves were balanced across the board, something their coach is always pleased to see.

“Our serving was much more consistent and we did a nice job of getting Emma Smith the ball,” Whitmore said. “Scout Smith did a fantastic job of distributing the ball and our strong passing from Chelsea Prescott, Emma Mathusek, Ashley Menges and Zoe did a solid job of passing the ball in order to run our offense.

Hannah Davidson was great off one foot and had a first-set serving run that helped propel us forward,” he added. “We’re happy to pull off the road win and look forward to next week.”

Emma Smith paced the Wolf attack, shredding Granite for 11 kills, while also dominating at the net with four solo blocks and two assists on other stuffs.

Springing from one side of the court to the other, the bounce in her step never wavering, Scout Smith doled out a season-high 30 assists, while also adding three aces, two blocks and two digs.

Prescott (seven kills, six digs), Trujillo (five kills, two digs), Mathusek (18 digs), Menges (four kills, three aces, three digs), Davidson (three kills, two aces) and Lucy Sandahl (a wicked ace) all chipped in to keep CHS manager Heidi Meyers busy as she recorded team stats.

 

JV wages strong fight:

Coupeville’s young guns forced Granite Falls to a third and deciding set for the second time this season, but couldn’t quite pull out the win.

The Wolves ultimately fell 25-19, 23-25, 25-14, dropping their record to 3-5 in league, 5-6 overall.

“We lost, but we got some good work in,” said Coupeville coach Chris Smith. “We are a work in progress, but I like the improvement we are seeing.”

Sandahl, the motor which makes the JV squad run, was limited to just a single set so she would be available for duty with the illness-depleted varsity. She made good use of her time on the floor, however, recording seven assists and two service aces.

Kylie Van Velkinburgh pounded home seven kills, while Izzy Wells tallied 10 assists and five aces.

Meanwhile, the rampaging Vick sisters, Willow (five digs, four kills, two aces) and Raven (five digs, three aces) were their usual consistent, dangerous selves.

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