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Posts Tagged ‘Ashley Menges’

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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Sophomore Chelsea Prescott chipped in with eight digs and two aces Tuesday as Coupeville volleyball crushed Sultan in straight sets. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

“They’re stuffing you like a great big green pepper!”

The commentator on the TurkTV internet feed Tuesday knew what was up — Sultan was getting whupped, and Coupeville was holding the paddle.

Kicking into high gear after a brief slow start, the Wolf spikers rained down holy terror on their hosts, rolling to a 25-23, 25-9, 25-14 victory which keeps them a game out of first-place in league action.

With the win, Coupeville soars to 4-1 in North Sound Conference play (right behind 5-0 King’s) and 7-1 overall.

The Wolves kick off the second half of the league season Thursday, when they host Cedar Park Christian (2-3, 6-4), before zipping off to Eastern Washington for Saturday’s 14-team Wenatchee Invite.

Tuesday, Coupeville faced off with a team which played much better than its win-less record in league play might indicate.

The Turks jumped on a rare bit of service misfire from the Wolves in the first set, staying close until CHS found another gear to close things out.

“We missed eight serves, which were infectious, and putting those serves in creates a different story,” said Coupeville coach Cory Whitmore. “And while we didn’t serve well in the first, they played very clean.”

Once they got past their brief hiccup, the Wolves reverted to the big-hitting, precision-passing squad their fans are used to seeing.

“I was happy to see us turn it around, only making five hitting errors total in the second set,” Whitmore said. “We passed and served well and carried that momentum into the third and maintained a lead the entire way.

“I’m proud of the way that we turned around and fixed exactly what we needed to.”

Front-row smashers Emma Smith and Hannah Davidson were in perfect sync, both finishing the night without a single hitting error.

With Scout Smith lofting 21 assists to go along with her four aces, the Wolf big hitters had plenty of opportunities to launch wicked spikes.

Maya Toomey-Stout led the way with 10 kills, while Emma Smith tallied six and Davidson launched four.

Toomey-Stout, who also scraped nine digs off the floor and ripped off a pair of service aces, earned another big compliment from the TurkTV crew.

As “The Gazelle” hung in mid-air for an eternity before launching one missile, the awe-struck announcer blurted out “I think she can jump to the moon and back!”

While Toomey-Stout’s aerial ballet earned her some new fans, she got a lot of help from her teammates.

Chelsea Prescott collected eight digs and two aces, Ashley Menges fired off five aces, Emma Mathusek went low for three digs and swing player Zoe Trujillo popped onto the floor to rip off an ace of her own.

 

JV:

Led by a big serving performance from Jaimee Masters, the Wolf young guns thrashed the Turks 25-13, 25-18.

The win, the team’s second-straight, lifts the JV to 2-3 in league play, 4-4 overall.

Coupeville dominated in all aspects of the game, from Lucy Sandahl lofting 17 superb assists, to Masters torching the Turks for seven service aces, to the Wolves sharing duty when it came time to smash put-aways.

Maddie Vondrak peppered Sultan for five kills, while Willow Vick smashed four and the tandem of Trujillo and Raven Vick laced three winners apiece.

The Vicks were equal opportunity killers, combining to launch seven service aces, with Willow narrowly edging her twin sister 4-3.

Freshmen Abby Mulholland and Anya Leavell also saw floor time for the JV, as all seven Wolves to take the court played as one.

“Overall we controlled the ball well and played in system,” said Coupeville coach Chris Smith. “The hitters performed well, keeping us on the plus side for our hitting percentage.”

 

C-TEAM:

With the win in hand, Smith went to his bench for the third set.

While the Wolves fell 25-15, their coach saw many positives.

“Set three, our younger players got some valuable floor time,” Smith said. “Although we came up short in that set, the experience helps identify areas of focus going forward in practice.”

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Wolf junior Hannah Davidson had seven kills Wednesday as Coupeville High School volleyball rallied for a five-set win over Granite Falls. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

The better team won Wednesday.

It just took a lot longer to get there than we all might have expected.

Coming off an epic, emotion-packed, five-set win the night before against their arch-rivals, the Coupeville High School volleyball squad looked dazed, disorientated and out of sorts for the first two sets against visiting Granite Falls.

But the Wolves are undefeated for two reasons – they have considerable talent and they don’t give in easily.

Digging deep and avoiding a stunning upset, Coupeville rallied for a 20-25, 21-25, 25-12, 25-22, 15-9 win, sending their vocal fans home with relieved smiles on their faces, and quelling at least some of their coach’s angina.

“I’m extremely excited we turned it around,” said a still somewhat frazzled Cory Whitmore. “It is very easy to let things get away when you’re shell-shocked, but we displayed a lot of fight and heart.

“That will be very important as we go forward,” he added. “We expect a lot of ourselves, and we expect to win, and sometimes you have to find a way to do that … and we did.”

The win lifts Coupeville to 3-0 in North Sound Conference play, 5-0 overall.

The Wolves sit in a tie atop the league with defending 1A state champ King’s (3-0, 5-1), which swept South Whidbey Wednesday in straight sets.

The Knights lone loss was a four-set defeat at the hands of North Creek, a 4A Kingco school currently sitting with a flawless 7-0 record.

Sole possession of first-place in the NSC will be on the line next Tuesday, Oct. 2, when Coupeville travels to Shoreline for the first of two regular-season meetings with their private school foes. King’s comes to Whidbey Oct. 23.

Wednesday’s warm-up match became a wake-up, after Coupeville was caught sleep-walking for close to an hour.

The less said about the first two sets, the better, as very little went positively for the Wolves as they tried to adjust to a team with a unique playing style.

After facing a hard-hitting South Whidbey squad Tuesday, the Wolves ran up against a Granite Falls unit which dinked, poked, blooped and tipped the ball all night, making up for a lack of raw aggression by keeping everything in play.

CHS trailed from start to finish in the first set, and had just a (very) brief 1-0 lead in the second frame before that also got away from them.

Hannah Davidson had several nice tips for winners in the early going, but while big hitters Emma Smith, Ashley Menges and Maya Toomey-Stout were able to lash a few sizzling spikes, they were few and far between.

Something finally seemed to spark for Coupeville in the third set, as Scout Smith led off things by becoming the first Wolf to make a sustained run at the service stripe.

With Menges and Emma Smith pulling off “surprise, you thought the ball was going that way, but it really was going the other way” tips, Scout Smith reeled off six straight points to open the set.

After that, the Wolves began to drop the hammer more frequently, whacking winners off of their rivals arms, legs and torsos, erasing most of the smiles on the Granite side of the net.

Unable to blunt Coupeville’s power game, or match it, the visitors backpedaled, continued to throw junk in the air, and watched in horror as their advantage rapidly slipped away.

Zoe Trujillo popped into the game and immediately connected on a winner, Davidson continued to be a strong force up front and Toomey-Stout had the cannon fully firing by that point.

Coupeville’s service game, which had been uncharacteristically off in the early going, clicked from the third set on, as well.

Chelsea Prescott zinged a wicked ace that smacked the floor and curled around a would-be receiver, before Menges displayed some prime-time power.

One of “Smashley’s” serves exploded underneath a rival’s feet with so much fury it marred the glossy finish on the gym floor and set the Granite player’s shoelaces on fire.

The fourth set was chock full of raw power, 99.3% of it coming from Coupeville’s gunners, though the Tigers made things interesting by rallying from a 20-12 deficit to knot things up at 21-21.

Granite thought it had retaken the lead on the very next point, but celebrated prematurely, as Emma Mathusek made a stunning dig on a ball that looked unplayable.

With a flick of her wrists, the unsung Wolf junior, who does all the back row dirty work that makes the highlight reel kills possible, sent the ball curling back over the net, where it sliced through three defenders and dropped in for a monumental point.

With the bleeding stopped, Coupeville rode an ace from Toomey-Stout and a kill from Trujillo to force a fifth set and completely deflate the last bit of air out of Granite.

The visitors did briefly hold a 3-1 lead in the final frame, but a couple of sweet tips from Prescott pulled the Wolves back even, then Toomey-Stout started killin’ girls.

The longer the match went, the harder “The Gazelle” seemed to hit, and her spikes in the fifth set were of the type which ripped out souls and sent the Wolf student cheering section into hysterics.

The yells just got louder when Lucy Sandahl made a splashy cameo, launching a wicked service ace to push CHS to the edge of victory.

And the final blow?

Vintage Toomey-Stout, flying up the middle, launching airborne, hanging there for an eternity, then introducing her clenched fist to the hapless ball, blasting a match-closing spike right through the heart of the Granite defense.

It was the 15th and final kill of her night, helping her top a balanced stat sheet which included 12 kills from Emma Smith, seven from Davidson and five from Prescott.

Mathusek racked up 18 digs, Scout Smith was the motor which made the Wolves run with 35 silky assists, and Prescott paced CHS at the service line with five aces, while Menges and Emma Smith added four apiece.

 

JV nipped:

Missing several ill players, the Wolf young guns took the opening set 25-17, then faded, falling 25-16, 25-10.

The loss drops the JV to 1-2 in league play, 2-3 overall.

The opening set was a mix of big hits, with Maddie Vondrak, Trujillo and Willow Vick hammering away, while Vondrak used her jumping ability and long fingers to rise above the net and continually snuff out Granite shots.

Jaimee Masters put the set on ice with a strong run at the service line, and things seemed to be completely in Coupeville’s favor.

It wasn’t to be, though, as Granite completely flipped the switch after that, limiting the Wolf highlights to a couple more put-aways by Trujillo and two perfectly-lobbed running tips by Vick.

 

Superheroes live amongst us:

The best play of the night didn’t come in either match, but right at the tail end of warm-ups for the varsity match.

Coupeville had its HUDL camera set up right behind the court on a tripod, and someone, or something, slammed into it, knocking the camera free.

As it fell towards the unforgiving gym floor, a half-scream went up, several Wolves lurched in slow motion, and then Vondrak, looking every bit the part of a superhero, came flying past multiple teammates and snagged the equipment mere centimeters away from it kissing the floor.

And then promptly slow-strutted away, possibly whispering “I’m Batman!!” under her breath as she went.

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Playing in front of aunt Joli, a first-ballot Coupeville Sports Hall o’ Famer, Emma Smith helped lead Coupeville to a huge win in Bothell Tuesday night. (Konni Smith photo)

The louder you get, the better we play.

When the Coupeville High School volleyball squad strode onto the court in Bothell for its North Sound Conference opener Tuesday night, it faced numerous challenges.

The dangerous team across the net, Cedar Park Christian, was a solid 4-1 in non-conference play.

Toss in a rabid student section, and things might have seemed daunting for the Wolves.

If, and only if, you didn’t know the young women wearing the black uniforms don’t bend. They don’t break. And they will snap you in half.

Their mothers saw it coming. From now on, so might their private school rivals.

“The crowd of (CPC) boys were animals,” said one Coupeville mom. “And they fueled our girls fire as they heckled the crap out of us.

“I wanted to warn them that our kids live for the screams.”

By the time they were done, the Wolves had turned any razzing into screams of pure anguish, thrashing the host Eagles 25-20, 25-18, 25-23.

The win propels Coupeville to a pristine 3-0 on the season.

At 1-0 in league play, they sit in a tie atop the new conference, and have a full week before they travel to Langley for an epic clash with arch-rival South Whidbey.

While he’ll start planning for that rumble when his team returns to practice Wednesday, the bus ride home Tuesday was all about enjoying that first conference win for CHS coach Cory Whitmore.

“We’re very excited, of course,” he said. “Any time you can go on the road in this league and come back with the win is an accomplishment.

“We played with a lot of focus and very clean from the service line and then gradually put the pressure on, taking them out of rhythm.”

Not every facet of their play was flawless, but the Wolves made up for any small weaknesses by excelling in other areas.

“Our hitting was shaky at times, but the passing was pretty consistent, so our hitters could then settle in themselves,” Whitmore said. “Chelsea (Prescott) and Ashley (Menges) had great all-around games passing, serving and digging.

Emma Mathusek did a great job passing and digging as well and Emma Smith had a powerful six kills with no errors,” he added. “A skill that we’ve been pushing has been smart and strong blocking, and we showcased that well tonight.”

Coupeville picked up 10 blocks, with Emma Smith soaring above the net to collect six stuffs to match her six kills.

The stat sheet was nicely balanced, with Scout Smith doling out 23 assists and Mathusek going low to scrape 11 digs off the floor.

Ashley Menges (five kills, four aces), Hannah Davidson (four kills), Chelsea Prescott (three kills, four aces), Maya Toomey-Stout (seven kills, three digs, two aces) and Zoe Trujillo (one kill) all chipped in as well.

“Plenty to work on in practice,” Whitmore said. “But we’re of course excited about a big win.”

 

JV strolls to win:

Coupeville’s young guns crushed the Eagles 25-12, 25-8 in their league opener.

The win lifts the JV to 2-1 overall, 1-0 in conference action.

“Good team effort across the board,” said CHS coach Chris Smith.

The Wolves got big play from a number of players, something their leader always likes to see.

Lucy (Sandahl) flew all over the floor setting and feeding her hitters,” Smith said. “The Vick sisters (Willow and Raven) were very composed at the service line and swinging well in the front row.

Maddie (Vondrak) is playing all six rotations and has made significant improvements in serving and passing,” he added. “Zoe (Trujillo), as usual, gave us a lot of power swinging from the outside.”

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