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Posts Tagged ‘Emma Smith’

Maya Toomey-Stout lashed a team-high 15 kills Tuesday as Coupeville volleyball pulled out a five-set win at South Whidbey. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

18 years to the day she was born, Emma Smith committed cold-blooded murder.

And her mom loved every freakin’ second of it.

When you go to carve the tombstone, include the name of every South Whidbey High School volleyball fan, who all went deathly quiet at the end of Tuesday night’s varsity volleyball match against visiting Coupeville.

The Falcon faithful hooted and hollered, and sported some classic Hawaiian shirts, but even the brightly-colored duds couldn’t save their team, because when Smith’s final, artful tip dropped to the floor and skidded away, it capped a five-set war and a major win for the Wolves.

Winning a battle of undefeated teams, CHS clambered back on the bus for the short, joyous ride home wearing grins, carrying birthday cupcakes and celebrating a 19-25, 25-20, 25-21, 24-26, 15-12 win.

The victory lifts the Wolves to 2-0 in North Sound Conference play, keeping them in a first-place tie with defending 1A state champs King’s, and 4-0 overall.

It also leaves them as the only fall sports team in the new six-team league, in any sport, to still be undefeated.

“I’m thrilled for the girls and this hard-fought win,” said Coupeville coach Cory Whitmore. “They have been putting in an incredible amount of work and preparation, so to earn a win on the road is very exciting.

“I thought that mentally we handled what they threw at us very well, able to turn around and come back at them with an attack of our own,” he added. “We did strong and smart work from the service line, attacking weakness and difficult areas, helping us to limit their attacks at the net.”

Coming on the heels of an epic JV match which left a buzz lingering in the gym, the teams came out fired up and ready to rumble from the first serve.

Back-to-back big plays, one a missile of a spike off the fingertips of Maya Toomey-Stout, the other a scorching service ace from Ashley Menges, helped stake Coupeville to an early lead.

But after Chelsea Prescott came rumbling in from the side to pound home a put-away to stretch the margin to 10-7, the Falcons regained control.

A long, successful run at the service stripe, and some teeth-rattling kills from South Whidbey senior Emma Leggett, fired up the local student section, and once the Falcons retook the lead, they never gave it back.

Menges, operating as her alter ego, “Smashley,” did her best to keep the Wolves in the set, thrashing and slicing the ball, while Emma Smith froze the defense with a note-perfect tip, but it wasn’t quite enough.

Coupeville only dropped one set across its first three matches, but if losing the first set hurt, it never showed on the faces of the Wolves.

Instead, they immediately went to work, with big winners from Emma Smith, Toomey-Stout and Prescott, all off of flawless sets from the nimble Scout Smith, who was everywhere at once.

A back-and-forth second set hung in the balance, with CHS up just 19-18, when the birthday girl made her presence felt.

Stopping a South Whidbey rally cold, Emma Smith rose up above the net with a mighty bound and pasted the ball off the back line for a winner, then strolled away, casually flicking a loose strand of hair over her ear, eyes blazing with fury and joy as Menges rushed to bear-hug her.

That play set off Coupeville’s most sustained run of the night, as it closed out the second set (on a knee-shredding spike from an exuberant Toomey-Stout), then surged to take a tight third frame.

Hannah Davidson was a key player in that third set, rising up to help turn away several would-be Falcon winners with key stuffs.

With both teams coming full tilt, punching, counter-punching, then finding a little more gas to swing from the heels, the fourth set was brutal, and beautiful.

The lead flipped back and forth while Emma Smith and Menges tried to out-do each other in the ferocity of their kills, only to have Toomey-Stout literally go and tattoo a ball off a rival’s forehead, dropping the Falcon to her knees.

Not to be outdone, Prescott, who overcame a wayward contact lens, dropped in a quirky hook shot that crawled through the air at the speed Matthew McConaughey drawls his words, before skipping away for a point.

Her next winner? A spike that, like Toomey-Stout’s bullet, bounced off a Falcon noggin and knocked some brain cells loose.

Even with all that, however, South Whidbey eked out a set win, even if it took them three ties to nab the deciding point against the pesky Wolves.

If the fifth and deciding set was the shortest, as the high school mercy rule dictated it only go to 15 and not 25, it still managed to pack in just as many plot twists and stunning reversals as the first four frames.

At first, the Falcons, riding a high coming out of the fourth set, seemed like they would run away with things, jumping out to a quick 5-2 lead.

The SWHS student section was rockin’.

But “Smashley” was … smashing.

Menges laced a winner that sliced off a few fingers as it carved its path of destruction, before Davidson and Scout Smith teamed up on a stuff, and the Wolves were on the comeback trail.

Cue the angina and the fingernail-chewin’, as the two squads fought through five ties down the final stretch run.

The last stalemate came at 11-11, and it came courtesy Emma Smith, who buried a huge spike that tore up the right corner, exploding at the feet of a volunteer lineman who had been super-enthusiastic on pro-Falcon calls all night.

This time, not so happy.

Nice.

As good as her teammates had been around her all night — and they were very good, from Scout Smith doling out 27 assists to Emma Mathusek scraping 17 digs off the floor — in the final moments, it was time for the birthday girl to blow out all the candles by snuffing every last Falcon hope and dream.

She followed the spike with a stuff at the net to give CHS a lead it would never relinquish, and then came about as perfect a moment as you can get without operating off a script.

South Whidbey, down 14-12, put the ball into play, and the rally went on, and then on some more, 12 players fighting to their last drop of sweat.

In the stands, Konni Smith, her voice strained by a night of screaming for her daughter, suddenly found one final holler.

Because, out there on the court, Emma Smith, twirling into the air, arms above her, fingertips quivering with anticipation, found the ball in mid-flight, stopped time, and flicked the biggest shot she’s nailed in a career full of nailing big shots.

The ball hit the ground, the Falcons whiffed, Konni and associates lost their minds and Emma’s cool as a cucumber younger sister, Savannah, almost looked up from her phone.

Almost.

Down on the court, after the celebration, the hugs, the screams, and a few words from their busting-with-pride coach, the Wolves exited the gym the way they entered.

As a tightly-knit group of strong young women who are buying into their roles, sacrificing for each other and enjoying the ride, a win and a cupcake at a time.

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Senior Emma Smith delivered 12 bone-rattling kills Tuesday, sparking Coupeville volleyball to a win over 2A Anacortes. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Scout Smith never stopped running.

The play was dead, it was over, it was done, it was finito, it was time to brush it off, take a deep breath and move on … except Scout Smith never stopped running.

Sprinting from one side of the court to the other, using every last stretched-out inch of her slender frame, she threw out one curled-up fist at the last millisecond and spun the volleyball over her head as she crashed through the bench on the way to the stands.

Improbably, impossibly, the ball rolled through the air, found the outstretched fingertips of one of Smith’s teammates, and flopped over the net, dropping to the floor with a soft plop which sent the Coupeville High School gym into delirium.

It was one small play, one small point, but in the blink of an eye, as a dead play turned into one more magical moment for a hyped-up Wolf volleyball squad, one thing was certain.

There was no freakin’ way Coupeville was losing Tuesday night.

Playing on coach Cory Whitmore’s birthday, the Wolf spikers put together one of the most electrifying team performances in program history, stunning 2A Anacortes 27-25, 16-25, 25-16, 25-23.

The non-conference victory, which came backed by a fan base which collectively lost its mind (and possibly, their voices) as they stamped until the bleachers cried uncle, lifts Coupeville to a pristine 2-0 on the season.

“I’m so excited to see us play this way,” Whitmore said. “We played to our strengths, rolled with every punch, and then immediately came back and won points almost every time playing the way we wanted to play.”

The key was six Wolves on the floor firing as one, “digging like crazy, serving consistently, getting on a roll, feeling it, and pouring it on.”

Whitmore ran eight players through his rotation against Anacortes, and every single one had at least one play that stands as a “that’s the way you do it” moment.

From Zoe Trujillo stepping off the bench midway through the match, and immediately getting a kill on her very first play, to Scout Smith, who doled out a team-high 22 assists (and never stopped running), the Wolves attacked from all angles.

But you have to step back, gaze in wonder at what Emma Smith accomplished, and know this match, right here, right now, is the one she could show to college coaches.

One she can tell her irrepressible niece about, again and again, as Aunt Emma’s biggest little fan gets old enough to appreciate the stories.

One she and longtime running mate Ashley Menges — seniors who have lived and breathed volleyball for half their lives and are off to a fantastic start to their swan song — will remember long after they have retired their knee pads, but are still best friends.

It was a night when Menges was on fire, when Maya Toomey-Stout was hoppin’ and poppin’, spraying daggers and takin’ names, when super sophomore Chelsea Prescott had the biggest plays of her career, when Hannah Davidson and Emma Mathusek played inspired ball.

But it was also the night Emma Smith strode into the gym a star, and exited as a legend.

It wasn’t just her 12 kills, but the fact every last one came at a major turning point.

That she used her height, her jumping ability, her fast fingers on blocks and tips, and, in the end, a right hand that smote the volleyball like Thor’s hammer connecting with the heads of so many Frost Giants.

“That’s my granddaughter and don’t forget it!!” bellowed Coupeville football legend Steve Smith, his buttons popping with pride.

“The best night of my life!!!” exclaimed mom Konni Smith, as she danced out of the gym.

Emma was feeling that confidence,” Whitmore said, wearing a smile just a fraction smaller than that of his player’s mom. “Her play, both with her kills and her serving, was infectious, and everyone fed off of it.”

It was a match where both teams came full-tilt, making few errors and forcing their rivals to earn every point they won.

Anacortes, which had a size advantage, delivered heavy hits and tried to control the pace, but Coupeville was not in a mood to crack.

Almost every set featured the two squads taking turns putting together runs, and the stage was set right from the first moments.

The Seahawks jumped out to a quick 3-0 lead, only to lose the lead when Scout Smith cracked off a run of five straight points on her serve.

Once ahead, Coupeville jammed its foot through the floor boards, stretching the lead out to as far as seven points, with Emma Smith slicing off body parts with a variety of wicked shots while stalking the net.

A nice run at the service stripe from Prescott, a monster mash of a spike off the fingertips of Menges, and the first set was turning into a run-away.

Until Anacortes rediscovered its groove, turning a 19-12 deficit into a 24-23 lead.

With the ball in hand and set point on tap, the Seahawks were unbeatable and … Emma Smith just killed someone. For really real.

Rising up and over the net with a single bound, nostrils flaring, eyes full of lightning, the Wolf senior smashed a winner which tore through the heart of the Anacortes defense, slamming into the floor and leaving a permanent dent.

Pity the poor janitor who has to buff that one out.

With both teams saving a set point, the first frame was finally settled when Prescott came flying up the middle of the court, following her own serve.

Bringing a furious end to a brief rally, the future (and present) of Wolf sports walloped a winner between two Seahawk defenders, sending her teammates jumping in a team-wide display of unbridled joy.

While the second set went to Anacortes, Coupeville hung tough, peppering its share of big hits and artful tips, and very little air went out of the gym.

And why not?

Mere seconds into the third set, Emma Smith was back to going medieval on the ball, Toomey-Stout was hanging in mid-air, firing from every angle and Mathusek and Scout Smith were keeping every ball in play.

Even the ones they shouldn’t have been able to reach.

Trujillo smacked a winner from the left side on her first swing of the night to stretch Coupeville’s lead to 14-9, Anacortes fought back to within 16-15, and then the gunfighter went to work.

Returning to the service line with a vengeance, Emma Smith fired off a string of winners, with one particularly nasty serve peeling three layers of skin off the Anacortes player who tried, and failed, to return the ball.

And her running mate? Right by her side, being awesome in perfect stride.

Menges closed the third set with an emphatic spike, going airborne on the right side and lashing the ball off the line on the left side, then the two seniors combined to slam the door in the night’s final set.

Control of the fourth frame veered madly, as Coupeville went up by three, then down by five, before things got knotted up at 20-20 when Emma Smith whacked a sizzling line-drive off of someone’s scalp.

Not to be outdone, Menges and Toomey-Stout followed up with big hits of their own, before three Wolves teamed up to stuff the final shot of the night from Anacortes.

The ball started to come across the net, met the combined resistance of the Wolves, and flopped backward, hitting the ground and rolling away as the celebration rippled across the court, through the CHS bench and to every layer of the gym.

Afterwards, after the cheers had quieted and the fans had departed, the Wolf players walked out, some solo, others in groups, all bouncing, all alive with the moment, flush with new, positive memories which will stay with them for the rest of their prep careers, and far beyond.

Sitting sprawled on the floor, waiting for her dad, assistant coach Chris Smith, to finish up, Scout Smith had finally stopped running.

She looked a little tired, a little jazzed, and a lot happy.

It was a good look.

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Ashley Menges had five kills, five assists and five aces Thursday as Coupeville routed Friday Harbor. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

They were back in black (uniforms), and bad to the bone.

Pounding the ball with glee, the Coupeville High School varsity volleyball squad opened a new season Thursday in style, savaging visiting Friday Harbor in a display of cold precision mixed with electrifying shot-making.

The Wolves stormed to a huge lead, hit the snooze button for a brief moment in the middle of the match, then flicked things back into over-drive, romping to a 25-8, 25-19, 25-16 win.

“We came out confident and firing in the first set, then got a little too comfortable,” CHS coach Cory Whitmore said. “I was excited with how we responded, though.

“We got some good starting lessons and made steps in the right direction,” he added. “Going forward, we want to continue to put our best foot forward in every match. It was a good first outing.”

Coupeville, coming off its first trip to the state tourney in 13 years, lost seven seniors to graduation.

Two of those spikers, Hope Lodell and Mikayla Elfrank, were in the gym Thursday, with Lodell on the bench as a volunteer assistant coach, and Elfrank winning the hearts of the crowd with the public debut of her new baby daughter.

The mass exodus left the current Wolf roster with just four returning varsity players — Emma Smith, Ashley Menges, Scout Smith and Maya Toomey-Stout — but the new mix of players met with immediate success.

Younger players like Emma Mathusek, Hannah Davidson and Chelsea Prescott stepped into the starting lineup with ease, while Lucy Sandahl, Raven Vick, and Zoe Trujillo contributed strong cameos off the bench.

The Wolves snatched control of the match from the word go, riding six straight points off of serves from Scout Smith to claim an early 7-0 lead.

The junior co-captain smoked an ace off the last bit of paint in the far left corner, then zinged her very next serve right off of the chin of a rival player.

The sting was real, both to the Friday Harbor spiker who crouched, rubbing her chin and praying the ball would go the opposite way after that, and to her teammates, who deflated around her.

Another successful run at the service line, this time from Menges, broke the set wide open, while the rest of the Wolves took turns trying to outdo each other with plays primed for the highlight reel.

Toomey-Stout dropped a gorgeous winner that sliced off a Friday Harbor kneecap as it went by, while Emma Smith decided to see if she could reach up and touch the roof of the gym.

The senior standout, a graceful powerhouse who evokes memories of aunt Joli Smith, a Wolf volleyball legend, caught an elevator straight to the clouds on one play, catching the ball with just the tips of her fingers.

That was enough to re-direct it between two flailing foes for a winner.

A few plays later, she was back at it, this time pounding the snot out of the ball on a spike which ripped a chunk out of the gym floor as it skipped away for a winner.

The second set was basically a mirror image of the first, with Emma Smith once again mangling the hapless volleyball (and potentially giving PTSD to the Friday Harbor players).

Meanwhile Toomey-Stout spent her time hoppin’, hangin’ in mid air for an eternity, then unleashing lasers, while Davidson fired off a variety of aces while on serve.

Up 19-8, Coupeville had its only setback, and it was a self-inflicted one.

While Friday Harbor went on a 10-2 run to pull back within 21-18, it would be hard to point out anything the visitors did to achieve the momentary burst of success.

Pretty much, they kept the ball in play, and the Wolves mentally went out to get a snack, handing away some points.

After a timeout or two, and some gentle words of wisdom from Whitmore, however, CHS got its mojo right back.

Menges fired off a couple more winners from the service stripe, before Prescott popped in from the side, elevating and snapping off a perfectly-placed tip to close out the set.

In the moment, it was like the Coupeville sophomore was Moses and the Friday Harbor players were the Red Sea, as three went one way, three went the other way, and the ball splashed down right in the middle.

The final set, while semi-close in the early going, again allowed the Wolves to showcase their skill-set.

Mathusek, Prescott and Vick all had strong runs on serve, Emma Smith hit the ball so hard it may be permanently bruised, and then there was Toomey-Stout once again doing things that defy the laws of physics.

“The Gazelle,” while hanging in mid-air for a solid 90 seconds, had to reach far behind her head, where a wayward ball was trying to make a run for freedom.

Plan foiled, as Toomey-Stout snagged the orb, her arm flashing forward and driving the ball over the net with sweet vengeance.

I’d like to tell you Friday Harbor tried to make a play in response, but it’s closer to reality to report all six players rocked back on their heels, mouths agape, as the winner cracked the gym floor in half and exploded out the side door.

Meanwhile, Toomey-Stout is still hanging in mid-air and doesn’t appear to be coming down anytime soon.

As they celebrated their opening night win, the Wolves did so as their beaming coach nodded appreciatively as he surveyed a very-balanced stat sheet.

Emma Smith paced the Wolves with seven kills, while fellow senior captain Menges collected five kills, five assists and five service aces.

Scout Smith peppered Friday Harbor for six aces and nine assists, Toomey-Stout collected eight digs and five kills and Davidson pounded out five kills.

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CHS volleyball will be led by returning letter winners Ashley Menges (14), Emma Smith (13), Scout Smith (2) and Maya Toomey-Stout. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Now it gets interesting.

After crushing Olympic League competition two years running, the Coupeville High School volleyball squad is stepping up several rungs on the ladder.

With the creation of the North Sound Conference, the Wolves, who have gone 24-11 overall, 17-1 in conference action, since Cory Whitmore became head coach, find themselves facing a challenge.

The new six-team league features three schools which played at the state volleyball tourney last season.

One was CHS, which made the trip for the first time in 13 years, while South Whidbey and King’s also qualified while playing out of the old Cascade Conference.

While the private school Knights, who knocked off Cascade (Leavenworth) to win the state title, have the early edge, Whitmore isn’t looking past the Falcons, or Granite Falls, Sultan or Cedar Park Christian, for that matter.

“Being a new league, not having much prior knowledge of each team is both a challenge and a blessing,” he said. “In a very competitive league that we are new to, we will need to step on the court, ready to bring our best game forward.”

From the moment the new league was announced, Coupeville’s spikers were among the quickest of any Wolf athletes to embrace the challenge, often stating on social media that they were in attack, and not retreat, mode.

“I’ve been very proud of this group’s attitude toward the new league,” Whitmore said. “They have high expectation of themselves and a competitive spirit.

“We will bring it each practice preparing to bring it each game, no matter the team across the net.”

Last year’s team, which didn’t drop a set in league play, was led by seven strong seniors including Olympic League MVP Hope Lodell.

While losing that pack to graduation hurts, the cupboard isn’t bare, however.

There are four key returning varsity players, a newcomer who isn’t really a newcomer and talented spikers hankerin’ to move up from a JV team which finished 12-1 under Chris Smith.

Coupeville also continues to build for the future, welcoming another strong group as the Class of 2022 arrives on the high school court.

“Our incoming freshman group is working very hard to learn the systems (offense and defense) as well as the expectations of high school ball,” Whitmore said. “They have already made great strides and with more reps, they will soon learn how to let some natural athleticism take them as far as they are willing to push.”

As they begin their high school journey, the young spikers can look to the team’s veterans for guidance.

The returning letter winners include seniors Emma Smith and Ashley Menges, and juniors Scout Smith and Maya Toomey-Stout.

After playing her sophomore season in California, junior Hannah Davidson also returns to the Wolf program to pick up what she started as a freshman.

Menges and Scout Smith are expected to split time between setter and right-side hitter, while Emma Smith will anchor the team at middle blocker and Toomey-Stout will showcase her electric leaping ability coming in hot from an outside hitting slot.

Ashley and Scout both offer a strong all-around game able to take sets from the back row and block and attack in the front,” Whitmore said. “Emma had a very strong off-season preparing to take on role of middle blocker and has really emerged as a top attacker, calling for the ball and ready to shoulder a large amount of swings.

Maya has really developed her game to be a consistent attacker from any location on the court and we will rely on her knack for the ball defensively.”

Davidson will join Emma Smith in giving Coupeville some height, a nice touch on a team that, overall, doesn’t feature very many tall players this time around.

“We are so happy to have Hannah back with the team,” Whitmore said. “A strong freshman year with the program has allowed her to jump back into the swing of things, not missing a beat and holding down a very important second middle blocking role.”

While a majority of the current Wolves operate, shall we say, low to the ground, there are ways to deal with that.

“A weakness this team may face is our relative lack of height. We knew this headed into the off-season and so it was important for us to focus on our verticals in order to compensate,” Whitmore said. “We will have to be tough defensively in the back row and find ways of slowing the ball down with our front row block.

“Tough serving is another emphasis to pull taller teams off their routes on the net and making up for a lack in height,” he added. “As the season progresses, we will need to strengthen our attack, both in smart hitting locations, as well as overall power.”

Another big help is having a tight-knit group of players who know how each other will react, and Coupeville is blessed in that department.

“One of our strengths that we will rely upon this season will be our ability to communicate,” Whitmore said. “This group is a close group of friends that work very well together and communication is a large part of the game they have worked on, on and off the court.

“Another strength we hope to build upon would be our serving. Every day, this group pushes each other to be stronger servers that have potential to rattle opponents,” he added. “And in facing strong servers in practice, we look to be strong passers with experience against a tough serve.”

The Wolves, who open the regular season Thursday, Sept. 6 with a non-conference home match against Friday Harbor, enter year three of the Whitmore Era intent on attacking each new day.

Never back down, never give in.

“Our goals for this season would be to finish toward the top of this new, competitive league,” Whitmore said. “Like each season, we want to be playing our best volleyball at the end and push deep into the playoffs, making it to state.

“It will take more than a starting group of six players – we will rely upon everyone bringing their best every day in practice, helping to prepare for big games.”

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Avalon Renninger whispers to her soccer ball. “Hello, my old friend. I’ve missed you.” (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

Mason Grove is back and ready to unleash some lethal forehands.

Tucked away in the gym, spiker Maya Toomey-Stout heartily approves of the clean air.

Meanwhile in downtown Los Angeles…

Zach Ginnings is in mid-season form.

Fab frosh (l to r) Anya Leavell, Abby Meyers and Izzy Wells ignite their jets.

Maddy Hilkey works on her foot skills, while trying to avoid breathing any smog.

Jaschon Baumann glides into action.

Wolf senior Emma Smith shows the youngsters how it’s done.

Smoke, what smoke?

The skies above Whidbey Island were thick with Los Angeles-style smog Monday thanks to raging fires elsewhere, but the first day of practice for fall sports went off without a hitch.

Battling through the haze, mad photo clicker John Fisken snapped pics of three Wolf teams hard at work, capturing boys tennis, girls soccer and volleyball (which got to stay inside where the air was crisp and clean).

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