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Posts Tagged ‘districts’

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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Coupeville freshman Coral Caveness (in sunglasses) smacked two hits Saturday in a playoff game. (Photo by Kelly Crownover)

They were among the best to ever wear the uniform.

Coupeville High School seniors Hope Lodell, Lauren Rose and Katrina McGranahan were not only four-year players for the Wolf softball squad, but four-year stars.

All three were on the field, claiming the spotlight, from the first day of their freshman season, and their stellar play and quiet leadership helped the program blossom.

The trio’s journey ended a few days earlier than hoped, when Coupeville was eliminated from the district playoffs Saturday after a 7-4 loss to Olympic League rival Klahowya.

The defeat denied the Wolves (12-9) a trip to state, the second-straight season CHS fell a single game short of the big dance.

Klahowya (12-7), which snapped a two-year, six-game losing streak against Coupeville, advances to state for the first time since 2004.

While the loss ends the on-field run for the Wolf seniors, it can’t dim what they accomplished.

The trio won 47 games over four seasons, led CHS softball to a league title this season, its first in 16 years, and were the heart and soul of the program.

Last year’s team went 19-5, the second-best finish in the 40 years the Wolves have played softball, but Mouse, The Surgeon and Killer Kat shone as brightly in defeat as they did in victory.

And all three went down fighting Saturday, on a day when the game wasn’t decided until late, and when a hit here, a bad bounce there, and the result would have likely flipped.

Coupeville was hanging tough at 2-2 late in the top of the fifth, having pulled off the defensive play of the game.

Left fielder Mackenzie Davis fielded a hit with two runners on base and just one out, came up firing and laid a strike into Scout Smith’s glove at second.

The sophomore infielder pivoted and fired a rocket to catcher Sarah Wright, who slapped the tag on the incoming runner, preserving the tie and igniting the Wolf faithful in attendance.

At that moment, with CHS having crawled back from an early 2-0 deficit, all the momentum seemed in favor of the Wolves.

It wasn’t to be, however, as the Eagles cracked back-to-back huge hits to bust the game open.

A two-run double broke the tie, then an RBI single stretched the lead to 5-2 and, in two quick, lethal swings, KSS seized the day.

Coupeville didn’t go down quietly, though, as McGranahan came back to end the inning with the seventh of the eight strikeouts she tossed in her final game as a prep pitcher.

She added a spectacular diving catch in front of the circle in the sixth, but Klahowya scraped out two more runs in the seventh to really seal the deal.

Down to their final outs, the Wolves plated two of their own, setting the table with a single from Coral Caveness and a frozen rope of a double from Rose.

One run scooted home on an RBI ground-out from Smith, before McGranahan whacked an RBI single in her final at-bat.

While the late innings were full of offensive fireworks, much of the game was a pitcher’s duel between McGranahan and KSS hurler Amber Bumbalough.

In the four years the schools have played each other, Klahowya held the advantage in the first half, winning five of six games.

Years three and four belonged to Coupeville, as the Wolves won all six before Saturday, with this year’s three-game regular season sweep coming thanks to a 60-22 advantage.

In their final match-up with Bumbalough, the Wolves had the D-1 recruit on the ropes several times, but she escaped with a little skill and a little luck.

After surrendering two runs in the top of the first, CHS got one back on a single from Smith and a thunderous one-out triple off of McGranahan’s bat.

Klahowya escaped though, inducing a grounder for out #2, then nailing McGranahan at the plate on a wham-bam play off a passed ball.

Coupeville had a golden opportunity in the second, with Veronica Crownover and Chelsea Prescott camped at second and third with no outs.

Bumbalough reached deep for a little magic, though, punching out back-to-back Wolves, before forcing a chopper to first for the third out.

The game stayed 2-1 until the bottom of the fourth.

Prescott walked, stole second, then took off like a rocket and scored when Crownover, the team’s leading hitter this season, sliced an RBI single through the gap.

After a Caveness single and a drawn-out, testy exchange between the Klahowya coaching staff and the umps, Bumbalough took matters once again into her own hands.

With the go-ahead runs at second and third, she cracked off an inning-ending strikeout.

The two pitchers, who have dueled for four years running, finished their final meeting with eight strikeouts apiece.

Coupeville, which went 7-6 against Klahowya between 2015-2018, rapped eight hits in their final game in District 3.

The Wolves, who jump back to District 1 and the new North Sound Conference next year, got two hits each from McGranahan (3B, 1B) and Caveness (1B, 1B).

Rose smoked a double, while Prescott, Crownover and Smith added a base-knock apiece.

While the Wolves will miss their three seniors, they are primed to be a contender for years to come, as their roster was extremely balanced.

CHS had three seniors (Rose, Lodell, McGranahan), three juniors (Wright, Crownover, Nicole Laxton), three sophomores (Smith, Davis, Emma Mathusek) and three freshmen (Prescott, Caveness, Mollie Bailey) on their varsity roster.

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Coupeville sophomore Mallory Kortuem is state-bound in the 4 x 1 and 4 x 2 relays. (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

Cameron Toomey-Stout (left) and Ariah Bepler both qualified for state Friday, while Lauren Bayne will have two chances Saturday to join them in punching a ticket to Cheney.

“What a day! They’re killing it!!”

Coupeville High School assistant track and field coach Bob Martin and associates exited Renton Stadium Friday night riding on a winning high.

With day one of the West Central District 3 Championships in the book, the Wolves have qualified 12 athletes for state, and are on the cusp of winning team titles for both girls and boys.

While there’s still a ton of action ahead Saturday, Coupeville currently sits atop the girls team standings at the eight-school meet, leading Charles Wright Academy 69-61.

The Wolf boys are just a tick behind Bellevue Christian at 92-90.

CHS won six titles Friday, with Jacob Smith (100), Chris Battaglia (Discus), Danny Conlisk (400) and Cameron Toomey-Stout (Triple Jump) all claiming individual crowns.

The Wolves also swept both the 4 x 100 races.

To punch a ticket to state, you had to finish in the top two in your event, and Coupeville added four runner-up finishes.

After day one, junior Lindsey Roberts has qualified for state in three events (100 Hurdles, 4 x 1 and 4 x 2), while Maya Toomey-Stout, Mallory Kortuem and Ashlie Shank will join her in the relays.

Smith (100, 4 x 1) and Cameron Toomey-Stout (Triple Jump, 4 x 1) are also Cheney-bound in multiple events.

Cassidy Moody (Long Jump), Battaglia (Discus), Ariah Bepler (Triple Jump), Conlisk (400), Jean Lund-Olsen (4 x 1) and Sean Toomey-Stout (4 x 1) round out the state qualifiers.

The season’s final meet is May 24-26 at Eastern Washington University.

Coupeville will have a chance to add more names to the reservation list, and more events for them to compete in at state, when action resumes Saturday morning.

CHS is scheduled to vie in 14 events on day two.

For the moment, however, the Wolves can marinate in an afternoon where Battaglia shattered his PR in the discus by 20 feet and Roberts broke her own school record in the 100 hurdles.

A day when they were, without a doubt, “killing it.”

 

Complete Friday results:

 

GIRLS:

100 — Maya Toomey-Stout (3rd) 13.27

400 — Mallory Kortuem (3rd) 1:01.30 *PR*

1600 — Lucy Sandahl (5th) 5:53.21

100 Hurdles — Lindsey Roberts (2nd) 15.26 *SCHOOL RECORD*; Ja’Tarya Hoskins (4th) 18.04 *PR*

4 x 100 Relay — Ashlie Shank, Kortuem, M. Toomey-Stout, Roberts (1st) 52.18

4 x 200 Relay — Roberts, Shank, Kortuem, M. Toomey-Stout (2nd) 1:49.53

Shot put — Emma Smith (4th) 32-00.50; Kylie Chernikoff (7th) 29-07.75 *PR*

High Jump — Lauren Bayne (5th) 4-08

Long Jump — Cassidy Moody (2nd) 15-04.75 *PR*; Hoskins (6th) 13-06

 

BOYS:

100 — Jacob Smith (1st) 11.17; Jean Lund-Olsen (5th) 11.77; Henry Wynn (7th) 12.07

400 — Danny Conlisk (1st) 51.25; Wynn (3rd) 53.54

110 Hurdles — Jakobi Baumann (3rd) 20.34

4 x 100 Relay — Cameron Toomey-Stout, J. Smith, Sean Toomey-Stout, Lund-Olsen (1st) 45.00

Discus — Chris Battaglia (1st) 125-02 *PR*; Thane Peterson (7th) 87-09

Javelin — S. Toomey-Stout (3rd) 133-10 *PR*; Battaglia (5th) 129-08

Pole Vault — Peterson (7th) 8-06

Triple Jump — C. Toomey-Stout (1st) 39-08 *PR*; Bepler (2nd) 38-10 *PR*

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Coupeville seniors Sage Renninger (left) and Payton Aparicio are off to state, the first Wolf girls tennis players to make the trip East since 2010. (Photos by CoupevillePaparazzi.com)

Wolf sophomores Avalon Renninger (left) and Tia Wurzrainer split four matches at districts, finishing 4th out of eight duos.

Pack the sunscreen, floppy hats and Gatorade, cause the Wolves are headed to Sun Stroke City.

And they’re thrilled about it.

Coupeville High School seniors Payton Aparicio and Sage Renninger will cap their stellar four-year run as a doubles duo by playing in the 1A/2B/1B girls tennis state championships in Yakima.

They punched their ticket to the big dance, where they’ll be playing on outdoor courts in 90-degree weather May 25-26, by placing 2nd Thursday at the West Central District 3 tourney.

Aparicio and Renninger are the first CHS girls tennis players to make it to state since 2010, when the Hard Court Assassin herself, Julia Sierra Castaño, advanced as a singles player.

You have to go back two years earlier, to 2008, to find the last time a Wolf female doubles duo (Megan Monroe and Hannah Merrell) played at state.

After sweeping two matches Wednesday, Aparicio and Renninger opened Thursday by playing for the district title.

While they fell 6-3, 6-0 to Cascade Christian sisters Grace and Kate Jung, the Wolves still had another opportunity to earn a ticket to state, and ending up coasting in without playing another point.

The battle for second pitted the loser of the final against the survivor of the loser’s bracket, UNLESS the two teams had already played.

In that case, the duo which won the first time around would get a walkover win.

And that’s how it played out, as Mei Ge and Casey Kim of Charles Wright Academy held off Coupeville’s sophomore sensations, Tia Wurzrainer and Avalon Renninger, 7-6, 6-4.

That nixed a chance for the trip to state coming down to CHS vs. CHS, and, since Ge and Kim lost to Aparicio and Sage Renninger Wednesday, the older Wolf duo were handed second place on the spot.

Coupeville’s young guns, who survived a loser-out match earlier Thursday, when they edged Maria Gonzalez and Abby Kwon of CWA 6-2, 3-6, 6-3, claimed 4th place out of eight doubles teams.

The two duos, and singles player Claire Mietus, who lost two matches Wednesday and was a fan on day two, helped Coupeville finish third in the team standings behind CWA and Vashon Island.

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Sage Renninger (left) and Payton Aparicio won both of their matches Wednesday at districts and are one victory from advancing to state. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

With day one in the books, netters (l to r) Sage Renninger, Claire Mietus, Aparicio, Avalon Renninger and Tia Wurzrainer enjoy a dinner break. (Photo by CoupevillePaparazzi.com)

If the Nisqually League thought it would stomp through the West Central District 3 girls tennis tourney with little push-back, surprise!

The Olympic League, and conference champ Coupeville in particular, is proving to be no push-over.

The Wolf netters, making a stand for public school players everywhere, combined for three wins Wednesday at the Sprinker Tennis Center in Tacoma.

Along the way, Coupeville came dangerously close to making Thursday’s doubles title match an all-Wolf affair.

CHS seniors Payton Aparicio and Sage Renninger, who came a win from advancing to state last year, are primed to punch their ticket in their final go-round.

The duo, who have been partners since day one of their freshman season, swept two matches from Charles Wright Academy foes.

The first win was capped when Aparicio drilled one of the rival players in the face on match point.

So, basically, an apt metaphor for public schools refusing to bow to private schools, which typically rule Washington state high school tennis.

Aparicio and Sage Renninger play sisters Grace and Kate Jung of Cascade Christian Thursday for the district title and a #1 seed to state.

The loser of the title bout will face the survivor of the loser’s bracket for District 3’s second berth to the big dance in Eastern Washington.

There was only one berth to state available last year.

Coupeville’s other doubles team, sophomores Avalon Renninger and Tia Wurzrainer, split two matches Wednesday, narrowly missing out on a trip to the finals.

The former is making her second-straight district tourney appearance, while the latter is debuting on the Tacoma courts, but they hit immediate pay dirt as a tandem, toppling a duo from Vashon.

While Avalon Renninger and Wurzrainer fell to the Jungs in the semifinals, they pushed them hard, with the first set knotted at 5-5 before their older rivals pulled away.

The duo is still alive and will aim to tear up the loser’s bracket Thursday, while Coupeville’s lone singles player will operate as a fan on day two.

Senior Claire Mietus ran into the tourney’s top player in the opening round, then faced off with an Olympic League rival in round two, dropping both matches.

 

Complete Wednesday results:

 

Claire Mietus:

Lost to Zoe Rose (Charles Wright Academy) 6-0, 6-0
Lost to Vilma Jurma (Port Townsend) 6-0, 6-0

 

Payton Aparicio/Sage Renninger:

Beat Maria Gonzalez/Abby Kwon (CWA) 7-5, 6-2
Beat Mei Ge/Casey Kim (CWA) 6-4, 7-5

 

Avalon Renninger/Tia Wurzrainer:

Beat Tobin Vaughn/Lizzy Sutherland (Vashon Island) 7-5, 6-3
Lost to Grace Jung/Kate Jung (Cascade Christian) 7-5, 6-0

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