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Posts Tagged ‘Emma Mathusek’

Emma Mathusek, serene superstar. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Emma Mathusek was a quiet superstar.

I’m not talking about her personality — she has always been outgoing, full of rah-rah spirit, and an exuberant, entertaining presence  — but how she approached her sports.

Whether it was volleyball or softball, or basketball back in her younger days, Emma was the kind of athlete every coach wants and hopes will land on their team.

She had skills for days, but always seemed content to fit her strengths into whatever her teammates and coaches needed.

Others chafe if they’re not looked at as the star.

Emma, who is straight laid-back chill, bopped along to a different rhythm than most, always seeming far more interested in team success than piling up personal stats.

Already ready to rule the world. (Photo courtesy Erin Martin)

You saw it on the volleyball court, where she anchored the Wolves while playing libero, sacrificing her body to scrape balls off the floor, time and again, and then some more.

The big hitters up front get the gaudy stats, and a lot of the buzz, but they never get the chance to go airborne if Emma isn’t holding down the last line of defense.

I don’t know as much about volleyball as some, but I’ve watched enough matches to appreciate an unsung warrior when I see one.

And that’s what Emma has been for the past six years – a warrior.

She sold out every dang time, every play, every moment she was on the floor, and very few balls got past her during that time.

The harder other teams hit, the harder she played.

Her team might win — and she was part of a very-successful run by the Wolf spikers in recent years — or they might lose, but Emma played with the same conviction, the same intensity, regardless of whether her team was two sets up or two sets down.

I always thought it was too bad she gave up basketball midway through her prep career, but that could be because it’s my favorite sport, and she was my favorite kind of player – a fighter and a scrapper.

But, you have to do what makes you happy, and know the fans will survive either way. If she was happier not playing, so be it.

And anyway, we still had her for one more sport, and she sparkled on the softball field.

A dynamic softball player from the very beginning. (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

Put Emma on the diamond, and she gave you speed, a soft glove, a slammin’ bat, and, once again, the willingness to adapt to whatever role she was asked to play.

She patrolled centerfield in her prime, and frankly, at times, there was little need for Coupeville coaches to put players in right and left, as she sprinted from foul line to foul line to snag rapidly-falling balls.

At the plate, Emma was a contact hitter who sprayed the ball in all directions, while often showing a surprising amount of pop.

While it wasn’t unexpected that homer-happy teammates like Veronica Crownover and Sarah Wright terrorized opposing pitchers with frequent round-trippers, Emma rocked one of the most-impressive home runs I have seen a Wolf hit.

The tater was delivered May 1, 2019, and it will live in Wolf lore for a long time, for how far away it sailed, when it was hit, and what it meant.

Emma’s shot, which cleared the fence like a 747 taking off, was a game-tying two-run blast which fueled what would turn into a wild, come-from-behind, 20-18 win over visiting Granite Falls.

The Tigers had come to Cow Town struttin’ and full of swagger, seemingly on the brink of clinching the North Sound Conference title.

Then Emma, with some help from her teammates, knocked Granite Falls to the canvas – she also had a long two-run single to go with her home run – and dared the Tigers to get back up.

They did not. Ever.

Jacked up after delivering a KO, one in which freshman hurler Izzy Wells whiffed the most-dangerous hitter in the league to slam the door shut, Coupeville stormed all the way back to win the league title.

After that came a great postseason run in which the Wolves finished 2nd at districts, advanced to state for the third time in program history, then drilled big baddie Deer Park while there.

Granite? They never made it out of districts, the back half of their tail-spinning season including a second loss to Coupeville, this one a killer in the playoffs.

The Wolves, however, made it to the premier event for Washington state high school softball sluggers, and it was Emma – the unsung star – who ruled the big stage.

Playing three games in one day in Richland, she ripped off six hits, including three doubles, putting a remarkable cap on her junior season.

While the COVID-19 pandemic stole her senior softball campaign, the legend Emma quietly built can’t be diminished.

You can talk about stats. You can talk about big hits and big catches on the diamond, or big dives and big hustle plays on the court.

Or you can just stand back and appreciate a young woman who every single moment she was in a Wolf uniform looked like she was having the time of her life.

She played her heart out, and her joy, the way she embraced her teammates and sacrificed for them, won’t be forgotten.

Today we induct Emma Mathusek into the Coupeville Sports Hall o’ Fame, and, after this, she’ll live up at the top of the blog, under the Legends tab.

Want to find her? She’ll be the one high-fiving all the other inductees, a perfect teammate to the end.

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Maddie Vondrak eyes the action as Zoe Trujillo operates above the net. (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

Is it Thanksgiving, cause Hannah Davidson brought the stuffing.

Vondrak has sweet treats for her fervent fans.

Emma Mathusek directs traffic.

Maya Toomey-Stout abuses the volleyball.

Davidson delivers a zinger.

Trujillo charges into the fray, keeping her candy handy.

Mathusek gets some love from her spiker family.

And now I’m caught up.

Probably. Maybe. Possibly.

As we wrap up the fall sports season, and begin the pivot to winter and basketball, I’m shaking loose the final photos I have stashed away.

There’s a couple more still hanging round, but they’ll pop up as the final awards banquets are held.

For now, eight glossy John Fisken snaps from a volleyball season in which the 2019 Wolves tied the program record with 14 wins.

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Freshman Lucy Tenore had several big plays at the net Saturday as Coupeville High School volleyball opened district play. (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

Lucy Sandahl is one of eight Wolf seniors chasing a final run at spiker glory.

Saturday was a day of spikes, surprises and split decisions.

But mostly, it was a day of surviving.

Getting stronger as the afternoon unfolded, the Coupeville High School volleyball squad rebounded from a morning loss to Nooksack Valley and knocked arch-rival South Whidbey out of the district playoffs.

With the split — a 25-7, 25-15, 26-24 loss to the Pioneers followed by a 25-13, 25-16, 29-27 win over the Falcons — the Wolves advance to day two of districts, a win away from making it to bi-districts.

At 14-3, the current spikers tie the 2004 Wolf squad for the best single-season record in program history, and now get two shots on their home floor Tuesday to take sole possession of the record.

Coupeville plays Meridian at 5 PM, while Nooksack faces off with surprise qualifier Sultan (the Turks shocked Cedar Park Christian Saturday) at the same time.

One contest will be in the CHS gym, the other across the hall in the CMS gym.

The winners play at 6:30 in the 3rd/4th place contest, while the losers vie in the 5th/6th place showdown.

King’s and Lynden Christian, which both went 2-0 Saturday, square off in the district title match at 8 PM.

The top five finishers advance to bi-districts, which pit District 1 (North Sound Conference and Northwest Conference) against District 2 (Emerald City League).

That tourney has matches Nov. 7 and 9, with five berths to the state tourney at stake.

 

The brackets:

Districts:

http://www.nscathletics.com/tournament.php?tournament_id=3120&sport=10

Bi-Districts:

http://www.nscathletics.com/tournament.php?tournament_id=3129&sport=10

 

Saturday’s action was all about cutting eight teams down to six, and the Wolves spent the day camped out in Lynden Christian’s cramped middle school gym.

 

Nooksack Valley:

Something was terribly off at the start of this one, as a combination of nerves, an unfamiliar gym, the aftereffects of a bus ride, insufficient calories ingested pre-match, or the knowledge clocks would be turned back soon conspired to derail the Wolves.

The less said about the first set, the better, as nothing remotely worked for Coupeville.

A team which thrives on its service game didn’t score a point off a serve until it already trailed 24-6 and a sense of shell-shock pervaded the gym.

But then things steadily got better.

Chelsea Prescott, playing for the first time in nearly a month after working her way back from a terrible leg injury, gave the Wolves their first lead of the day at 2-1 in the second set.

While CHS ultimately couldn’t hold on to the early advantage, it did start to get much more consistent play.

Scout Smith and Hannah Davidson combined on a resounding block, Zoe Trujillo painted the back line with a winner, and Maddie Vondrak and Maya Toomey-Stout tip-toed through the air to deliver pretty lil’ tip winners.

Buoyed by a return to more of a normal state, the Wolves pushed the Pioneers hard in the final set.

Jumping out to a 7-1 lead on quality serving from Smith and Prescott, Coupeville held strong when Nooksack made a push to get back to 10-10.

A rolling roundhouse of a kill from Davidson was huge, while Smith peppered an ace off the very last bit of paint on the back line to force the final tie of the match, at 15-15.

While Nooksack started to slowly pull away, it couldn’t get the lead over one or two points until a late surge staked the Pioneers to a 24-20 lead.

Staring down an all-but-certain loss, the Wolves rose to the occasion, thrilling their coaching staff, and the large collection of CHS fans who traveled up towards Canada on a cool, but sunny weekend day.

Holding off four straight match points, Coupeville refused to break.

Zoe Trujillo delivered back-to-back big kills (the second set up by a sensational running save from Lucy Sandahl), Vondrak mashed the air out of the ball on another put-away, then Smith zipped another ace off the back line.

The Pioneers proved to be too powerful, but, even on the final point of the match, Wolf senior Emma Mathusek sold out, hitting the floor with a thunk while scraping the ball off the floor to give her team one final moment of life.

 

South Whidbey:

Having gone from awful to inspired across the three sets of the opening loss, Coupeville carried the momentum into their third match-up this season with their next door neighbors.

This one largely played out like the regular season bouts between the squads, with a game, but young, Falcon squad willing to scrap, but unable to slow down a veteran Wolf unit.

Raven Vick and Sandahl went on torrid runs at the service stripe in the opening set, punctuated by Toomey-Stout ripping off her jersey to reveal the Superman costume underneath.

Operating in full “Maya: Destroyer of Worlds” mode, she left scorch marks on the ball, her kills so explosive they scarred the psyches of not only the Falcon defenders, but also those of their yet-to-be-born children.

In the midst of the senior sensation being … sensational … Wolf freshman Lucy Tenore delivered some big-time moments as well, stuffing shots and slamming home winners.

After polishing off the first set in fairly short order, Coupeville kept revving the gas pedal in frame two, this time with Toomey-Stout unleashing aces from the service line.

The most-powerful of her cannon shots was an ace which literally bounced off a Falcon face, and the rout was on.

But give the scrappy Falcons credit, because they never quit and played quite well during a third set which turned out to be its own mini-classic.

The teams traded leads, big-time kills, and incredible hustle plays, but saved the best for the end.

Trailing 24-21 after a Toomey-Stout put-away, South Whidbey rallied to not only hold off three straight match points, but rebounded to claim the lead not once, not twice, but three times.

Proving just as resilient under pressure, Coupeville also refused to take a knee, holding off three set points as the Falcons tried to push things to a fourth set.

With both teams on edge, and both fan bases waging a war to see who could chew off their collective fingernails first, the match was decided by a player many thought we wouldn’t see Saturday afternoon.

Prescott, a three-sport star who combines silky smoothness with often startling power, took a nasty fall during Coupeville’s match with King’s in early October, and ended up with a ginormous knot on her ankle.

To the surprise of no one, she immediately began to work to return.

To the surprise of many, she overcame the reality of leg injuries, and actually made it back just in time for the postseason.

While she didn’t play all six positions Saturday, as CHS coach Cory Whitmore gently worked her back into the lineup, Prescott’s presence provided an emotional surge for the Wolves, and gave them back one of their most-dangerous weapons.

Stepping to the line with the score knotted at 27-27, the Wolf junior ended the match with a wham-bam-let’s-head-for-the-bus-and-then-Panda-Express combo.

Her first serve was returned into the net, her second was returned right onto the madly-swinging arm of Toomey-Stout, who hopped through the gym roof as she lashed a set, and match, ending kill.

South Whidbey is a quality team, with promising young stars in six-foot freshmen Morgan Batchelor and Isabelle Wood. The Falcons will be back, and they will be dangerous.

But this is the final ride for Coupeville’s eight splendid seniors — Sandahl, Smith, Toomey-Stout, Mathusek, Raven and Willow Vick, Trujillo, and Davidson — and they aren’t done just yet.

On to Tuesday, on to play one more time in their own gym, on to write another chapter in their best-selling tale.

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Zoe Trujillo leads off a photographic look at Coupeville volleyball seniors. (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

Maya Toomey-Stout

Lucy Sandahl

Scout Smith

Emma Mathusek

Willow and Raven Vick

Hannah Davidson

Coach Cory Whitmore, in his fourth season at CHS, joins his fellow seniors.

Senior Nights as far as the eye can see.

Coupeville High School volleyball was the second Wolf squad to honor its 12th graders, doing so before Tuesday’s match with Granite Falls.

The spikers offer up a large group, with eight seniors, while CHS coach Cory Whitmore is also completing his fourth season with the program.

To see more Senior Night photos and action pics featuring varsity, JV, and C-Team play, pop over to:

https://www.johnsphotos.net/Sports/Coupeville-Volleyball/VB-2019-10-22-vs-Granite-Falls/

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Emma Mathusek is here to rock the joint. (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

With Maddie Georges eyeballing her work, Abby Mulholland soars for a tip.

Vivian Farris stays hyper-focused.

Dairy Queen makes delicious treats and should sponsor Coupeville Sports. Or at least give us some free ice cream.

Scout Smith angles a return, looking for a tiny crack in the defense.

Wolf football ace Alex Jimenez shows his support for his classmates.

Lucy Tenore denies your request for a kill.

Jordyn Rogers will go as low as necessary to save the day.

Cameras were clickin’, and volleyballs were zingin’.

With King’s in town Tuesday, all three Coupeville High School spiker squads were in action, and assorted camera clickers were hard at work, stalking the sidelines and baseline.

The pics seen above come from one of those intrepid photogs, John Fisken, who bounced between gyms, only taking a break to let his camera cool down.

And perhaps have a sip of Diet Coke.

To see everything Fisken shot in between beverage breaks, pop over to:

https://www.johnsphotos.net/Sports/Coupeville-Volleyball/VB-2019-10-07-vs-Kings/

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