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   Showcasing her ferocious serve, Avalon Renninger teamed up with fellow sophomore Tia Wurzrainer Monday to win in straight sets. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Small, but important steps.

A young, plucky and undermanned Coupeville High School girls tennis team didn’t get the win Monday, but it did flash a lot of positives.

The Wolves fell 5-2 to visiting Port Angeles, a large 2A school which carries 31 players on its full roster (double Coupeville’s body count).

But, having sunshine instead of howling wind and slashing rain on Opening Day was a good sign.

Brighter than the sun was the play of sophomore sensations Avalon Renninger and Tia Wurzrainer, who romped to a win at second doubles.

While Coupeville’s top doubles duo, seniors Payton Aparicio and Sage Renninger, were huge favorites and easily lived up to the hype with their own straight-sets victory, the younger Wolf aces were somewhat of an unknown entering the match.

Both Wurzrainer and Avalon Renninger had strong freshman years, but they are a new pairing as a doubles team, so there might have been some kinks to work out in their first official match.

Not so.

The left-handed Renninger controlled the match on her serve, zinging low, hard shots which bit a chunk out of the court as they skidded away from the Port Angeles netters.

Her running mate was particularly deft at the net, as Wurzrainer delighted her fervent fan club with a series of crisp put-aways.

Their play brought a quick smile to the face of longtime Coupeville net guru Ken Stange as he restlessly prowled the outside of the chain link fence.

With a solid line-up of doubles duos, the Wolves should give rival teams trouble all year long.

Singles is a little more of a work in progress, as CHS deals with the loss of its top three players from a year ago to graduation.

With Valen Trujillo and Co. off to pursue new avenues in life, Wolf freshman Genna Wright got a chance to jump right into the cauldron of playing first singles on opening day.

A naturally-talented athlete and one of the most gung-ho people on the planet Earth, the fab frosh was a First-Team All-Conference player in soccer and a one-woman wrecking crew in basketball.

While she might not have the same amount of experience in tennis as she does in her other sports, Wright came out swinging Monday, making her far more seasoned foe battle mightily for every point.

At one point, the two players went back and forth on a sustained rally, before the freshman dumped a back-hand winner just out of the reach of her rival.

Walking back to the service line, head down, hat pulled low, Wright wore a giddy grin, a star of tomorrow savoring a winner today.

Complete Monday results:

Varsity:

1st Singles — Genna Wright lost to Summer Olsen 6-0, 6-1

2nd Singles — Heather Nastali lost to Hailey Horton 6-1, 6-0

3rd Singles — Nanci Melendrez lost to Kailey Droz 6-0, 6-0

1st Doubles — Payton Aparicio/Sage Renninger beat Saige Hefton/Casandra Shamp 6-0, 6-3

2nd Doubles — Avalon Renninger/Tia Wurzrainer beat Jocelyn Reifenstahl/Emily Metzeler 6-2, 6-1

3rd Doubles — Claire Mietus/Maggie Crimmins lost to Paulina Crawford/Madison Saiz 6-2, 6-2

4th Doubles — Jillian Mayne/Zara Bradley lost to Hanna Brown/Emily Rygaard 6-0, 5-3 (PA left to catch ferry)

JV:

5th Doubles — Elaira Nicolle/Megan Behan trailed 3-0 (ferry)

6th Doubles — Jaimee Masters/Emily Fiedler lost 6-2

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   Tia Wurzrainer netted five points Friday at Chimacum. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Sometimes the score doesn’t tell all.

While the Coupeville High School JV girls basketball squad fell 33-25 at Chimacum Friday, Wolf coach Amy King looked beyond the numbers on the board.

“It was one of the best games JV has played this season,” the sage round-ball wizard said.

While the loss drops the young guns to 2-4 in Olympic League play, 6-10 overall, King was especially pleased with how her players have adapted in the past few days to facing withering defenses.

“Normally, when a team puts a press on us, we panic and rush everything and that results in turnovers,” she said. “For the past two practices we worked on slowing the ball down, spreading out more on the press break, passing more and dribbling less.

“This game, we did all those things that we practiced.”

With Ashlie Shank and Mollie Bailey doing “a great job passing back and forth up the court,” the Wolves showed off some of the “best passing we have done this season.”

With plenty of open shots to be had in the first half, the Wolves jumped out to a 6-4 lead at the first break, then went in tied 12-12 at the half.

Unfortunately, CHS lost Avalon Renninger, as the sophomore spark plug got knocked silly when a Chimacum player plowed right through her.

Adding insult to injury, not only did the Wolf star have to leave the game and go into concussion protocol after hitting her head, the refs also called a foul on her, and not the offensive player imitating a freight train going down a mountain decline with no brakes.

Even playing a woman down, Coupeville regained the lead in the third, with Maddy Hilkey, Tia Wurzrainer and Ashlie Shank all coming up with big shots.

Wurzrainer, who lives, dies and excels on defense, netted hers after a sizzling set-up pass from Bailey and some open encouragement from the varsity coach.

Mollie made a great pass to Tia and she can hear Mr. (David) King from the bench say “shoot it” and well, if he says to, you do,” Amy King said with a laugh. “She shot it, made it and got a free throw as well.”

The game took a turn for the worse in the fourth, though, as Chimacum reverted to its standard style of “beat the ball-handler black and blue.”

“The game started getting rough,” King said. “Ashlie got pushed out of bounds, flying across the floor. No call. Mollie had visible red on her arm from being slapped. No call.

“We start getting tensed up and they capitalized on the errors we made.”

A 21-18 lead to start the fourth slipped away in a hail of non-calls and questionable decisions from the refs.

Despite playing against more than just the five rivals on the floor, the young Wolves never quit.

“The girls fought and never let down,” King said. “Once the game ended, we were all disappointed, but, during the post game talk, it was determined that we played a really good game despite the score.

“Our passing was great. We took the right shots, broke their press easier than the last time and everyone worked hard,” she added. “We see them one more time on our home court and will continue to work hard to have a different outcome.”

Shank paced the Wolves with eight, Hilkey (6), Wurzrainer (5), Bailey (2), Genna Wright (2) and Lester (2) also scored and Kylie Chernikoff and Julia García Oñoro combined for four rebounds.

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   Avalon Renninger, already a star on the soccer field, netted her first varsity basketball point Saturday at Meridian. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Avalon Renninger is a made woman.

The Coupeville High School sophomore drained a fourth-quarter free throw Saturday at Meridian, officially notching her first varsity basketball point.

And that was the end of the highlights for the Wolves.

Well, OK, there might have been a few more, but not a whole lot.

Playing a brutally-efficient hoops powerhouse, an undermanned Coupeville squad put up a spirited fight, but fell 59-21.

The non-conference loss drops the Wolves to 4-11 on the season.

After this, things get serious, as CHS, 2-2 in Olympic League play (and sitting a half-game off of Chimacum and Port Townsend, who are 3-2), closes with five of its final six against conference foes.

First up is Klahowya (1-3), which visits Whidbey Tuesday (varsity 3:30, JV 5:15).

Before getting into the heart of league play, Coupeville, which played Saturday without two of its top three scorers (Mikayla Elfrank and Ema Smith), got to face a test under extreme duress.

After playing four games at last year’s state tourney, Meridian returned seven seniors and the Trojans have blitzed to an 11-2 mark this season.

Their only losses have been to Lynden Christian (13-0) and La Center (12-1), and they are a team with dreams of making a run at state tourney glory.

“Meridian is a well-oiled machine,” was the understatement of the year, delivered by Coupeville coach David King.

His Wolves only played eight girls total, with ankle injuries haunting Elfrank and Smith. Those who were able to hit the floor went down fighting, however.

“There were some bright spots on the offensive end, especially against their press,” King said. “Meridian is not only quick, but fast.

“We wanted to try to slow the pace of the game and not allow their pressure to speed us up,” he added. “Tonight we did that.”

Mixing things up, King had Sarah Wright handling most of the in-bounds plays, and the combo of her smart throw-ins and her teammates aggressively coming to meet the ball helped greatly.

And while the Trojans clamped down on defense, so did Coupeville, which held Meridian scoreless for nearly three minutes to open the game.

“It was good defense on our part and balls rimming in and out for them,” King said.

Wright was an equal opportunity ace all night, leading Coupeville with nine points, including netting three first-quarter free throws off of the same foul when she was hammered on a three-ball attempt.

While those were the only points the Wolves scored in the opening eight minutes, CHS was still relatively in the game at the first break, trailing just 13-3.

That changed in the second, when Meridian took advantage of Wright and Lindsey Roberts falling into foul trouble.

With the Wolves one-two punch sidelined for stretches of time, the Trojans pushed the lead to 25 at the half and 35 after three quarters.

The fourth quarter was Coupeville’s best stand, as it was outscored just 11-8.

“We were still battling and making some good offensive adjustments,” King said. “Post game we talked about the experience and that Meridian is a very good basketball team. We can learn from them with their court awareness and calm demeanor.

“Overall, it’s a loss,” he added. “However, I think we grew a little today and the players recognize that.”

Wright paced the Wolves with nine points and four rebounds, while Roberts added eight points, four boards and two steals.

Senior Kyla Briscoe netted a three-ball, while racking up four rebounds, three steals and an assist, and Renninger’s free throw rounded out the scoring.

Allison Wenzel (three rebounds and an assist), Hannah Davidson (three rebounds), Scout Smith (two rebounds and an assist) and Chelsea Prescott (two rebounds) also saw floor time for the Wolves.

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   Avalon Renninger piled up six points and seven boards in two quarters Wednesday, sparking a Wolf JV win. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Avalon Renninger is a game changer.

The sophomore supernova, who attacks the court with a mix of intensity and glee, was the spark the Coupeville High School JV girls basketball squad needed Wednesday night.

With Renninger providing a scoring and rebounding boost, plus quiet leadership, the Wolves broke open a close game in the fourth quarter, trouncing visiting Concrete 28-18.

The non-conference win, coming as the team heads into a nine-day break between games, lifts the CHS youngsters to 5-3 on the season.

In the early going Wednesday, Wolf coach Amy King had her doubts.

Despite preaching a mantra of “let’s come out strong” in her pre-game speech, she watched in silent horror as her players sputtered in the early going.

“Whistle blows, we get the ball and instantly turn it over,” King said. “They get the ball, score.

“We weren’t making good passes, the trap and defense we warned them about happened and we continually walked right into it.”

With leading scorer Chelsea Prescott jumping to varsity full-time, the JV squad will have to spread its offense out a bit more, and look for different players to step up at different times.

In the throes of a lackluster first quarter, the lone bright light came via Maddy Hilkey, who banked home both of Coupeville’s first two buckets.

Down 8-4 at the first break, the Wolves found their groove when Renninger took the court to start the second. As a swing player, she was only available for two quarters, but she used her time on the floor extremely well.

Avalon isn’t the tallest or quickest girl on the court, but she instills a calm to her teammates,” King said. “While there were still plenty of turnovers, there were also more rebounds, more help with the ball and a little more confidence, which is what was needed.

“The two quarters that Avalon played in, we outscored Concrete and those number say something.”

Following Renninger’s example, the rest of the Wolves elevated their defensive game against a rough and tumble (if we’re putting it nicely) Concrete squad full of rouges and rough-housers.

Kylie Chernikoff and Nicole Lester teamed up to control the boards, ripping down caroms left and right, while Tia Wurzrainer was a beast unto herself.

The sophomore guard, continuing to show the dedication to defense she brought to the soccer pitch in the fall, controlled a large part of the action, making off with six steals.

Wurzrainer also showed grace under pressure, hitting two free throws seconds after being leveled from behind by a two-handed shove into the back from a rival player.

Up by just four heading into the fourth quarter, the Wolves went into lock-down mode, holding Concrete to a single free throw over the final eight minutes of action.

Coupeville, still missing several players to nagging injuries, had eight players on its active roster, and all of them made solid contributions.

“Everyone got to come out for a breather during the game – but the battle ensued no matter who was in,” King said. “Everyone contributed and all the girls fought.

“They struggled, but never gave up and as a team they finished the night with a W.”

Hilkey and Renninger paced the Wolves with six points apiece, with Wurzrainer (5), Ashlie Shank (5), Chernikoff (4) and Mollie Bailey (2) also scoring.

Lester collected nine rebounds, three steals and three blocked shots, while Renninger snagged seven boards and Shank hauled down six.

Spanish sensation Julia García Oñoro racked up a rebound, a blocked shot and an assist as she continues to write her American success story.

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   Genna Wright beats the ball at its own game, proving she too can levitate. (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

Kalia Littlejohn leads an attack.

Wolf fans show support for Lindsey Roberts.

That’s gonna leave a mark.

“Sweet sassy molassy, I felt that all the way up here!!”

   International man of mystery Josh Bayne waves his support for CHS seniors Lauren Bayne (left) and Sage Renninger.

Avalon Renninger breaks out a tango, mid-match.

The action was fast, but the camera was quicker.

Having moved from grass to turf for the postseason, the Coupeville High School girls soccer squad found the pace of the game a bit sped up Saturday.

Wandering on to the sidelines, in between shooting cross country and volleyball, paparazzi John Fisken was on top of things, however, madly clicking away.

The pics above are courtesy him.

To see everything he shot, pop over to the link below.

When you do, remember, purchases fund college scholarships for CHS student/athletes.

http://www.johnsphotos.net/Sports/2017-2018-Coupeville-Soccer/2017-10-28-vs-Vashon/

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