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Posts Tagged ‘Maddie Vondrak’

Maddie Vondrak brings the fury and the power. (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

It’s been a busy couple of days.

As we dig ourselves back out after the crush at the end of fall sports, it’s always good to take a breather and look at some photos.

The pics above and below capture the Coupeville High School volleyball program, and come to us courtesy John Fisken.

To see what he shot at the final matches, pop over to:

VB 2021-05-07 vs LaConner – John’s Photos (johnsphotos.net)

VB 2021-05-08 vs Orcas – John’s Photos (johnsphotos.net)

 

Kylie Chernikoff directs traffic.

Jaimee Masters takes control.

The paparazzi has invaded the gym.

Backed by Jill Prince, super sophomore Lucy Tenore dominates at the net.

Alita Blouin, the very definition of laser-focus.

Chelsea Prescott drops the hammer.

The most-enthusiastic fans in the stands.

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“I will devour your soul, sister!!” Sweet-natured Maddie Vondrak transforms into the volleyball wrecking machine known as The Mad Masher. (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

“Wolves on three.”

A surreal season ended on a surreal note.

Less than 24 hours after celebrating Senior Night in front of a fairly-full gym, the Coupeville High School varsity volleyball squad closed its season Saturday by thrashing visiting Orcas Island in a mostly-empty house.

No fans were allowed to attend — to honor a request by the Vikings as positive Covid cases rise in the San Juans — though rest content in the knowledge that a handful of teenage girls can make as much noise, if not more, than any group of paying customers.

And the Wolves had plenty to hoot and holler about, as they strolled to a 25-12, 25-12, 25-14 win to finish 6-3 during this pandemic-altered season.

Coupeville, which finished second in the seven-team Northwest 2B/1B League, lost only to two-time defending state champ La Conner, and they made the Braves work as hard as anyone.

While he loses seniors Maddie Vondrak, Chelsea Prescott, Jaimee Masters, and Kylie Chernikoff, Wolf coach Cory Whitmore has a roster which features one junior and six fast-rising sophomores.

In the aftermath of Saturday’s win, as his players celebrated their success and mourned the end of their time together, Whitmore had a satisfied smile peeking out from under his face mask.

“We all have a lot of love for these seniors,” he said. “They were a great support crew for the younger players, like the seniors before them were for them.

“It’s really fun to see the impact these seniors had on our sophomores, and all they passed down.”

With all the obstacles this group of Wolves faced — a new league and classification, the loss of eight seniors, the pandemic — Whitmore was thrilled to see them accept every challenge.

“They tried new things, adapted, accepted feedback, and really were peaking by the end of the season, the right time,” he said. “I’m very proud of this team, and these seniors.”

Saturday’s match was essentially over one play into things.

Orcas served, there was a brief rally, then Prescott came sliding in, dropping the hammer of the gods, her power-packed right arm spiking a winner which split a pair of Vikings and skidded away.

Game, set, match.

Almost.

The Vikings did hang around for another hour or so, but they spent much of their time admiring the Wolf big hitters at work.

Prescott, Chernikoff, and Vondrak took turns getting wicked, spraying winners to all angles and showing their young teammates the way things are done.

Toss in strong runs at the service stripe from Alita Blouin, Maddie Georges, and Abby Mulholland, quality work in the trenches from Masters, and big plays at the net from twin titans Jill Prince and Lucy Tenore, and Orcas was doomed.

The end of the match offered up a perfect mix of the present (soon to be the past), and the future, for the Wolf volleyball program.

Up 22-13 in the third set, Coupeville collected its third to last point of the season thanks to one last, blisteringly brutal spike from the college-bound Prescott.

Stalking away in triumph, the young woman who first made varsity as a freshman celebrated with her contemporaries, then, metaphorically at least, turned over the keys to the car to the next generation.

Sophomores Gwen Gustafson and Ryanne Knoblich, who were on the court at the end, are part of that rising group of sophomore stars, with Tenore, Prince, Blouin, and Georges.

The final point, appropriately, came from one of the veterans, however.

Chernikoff, a fountain of joy over the past six years, from her days as a middle school track sensation to her current status as a volleyball killing machine, strolled to the service stripe, thunked the ball off the floor, then fired a note-perfect career capper.

Her low, sinking fireball ripped off a finger or two as it turned into set point #25 and match point #75, officially ending things.

One group moves on, another moves in, and Whitmore, with 55 wins in 4.5 seasons, rolls on, building something special.

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Wolf heavy hitters (l to r) Kylie Chernikoff, Maddie Vondrak, and Maddie Georges celebrate a big play on Senior Night. (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

They’ve been part of a renaissance.

Coupeville High School volleyball has soared in the five years Cory Whitmore has been at the helm, and Friday the Wolf coach honored four players who each have made major contributions.

Chelsea Prescott, Jaimee Masters, Kylie Chernikoff, and Maddie Vondrak were celebrated on Senior Night, as seen in the photos above and below.

Jaimee Masters and her parents, Nate and Leann.

Chelsea Prescott brings out the fan club, including parents Josie and Cory.

Bob and Joanne Chernikoff, and their super senior, Kylie.

David and Terri Vondrak jetted into town to watch Maddie, the Mad Masher, unleash missiles.

The fab four, who have each had a big impact on a soaring Wolf spiker program.

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Maddie Vondrak, comin’ right at you. (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

Let the spikes hit the floor, and the photos hit the internet.

Wanderin’ pic clicker John Fisken haunted the Coupeville High School gym Saturday, capturing the images seen above and below.

To marinate in everything his cameras caught, while pondering the possibility of purchasing some mementos, pop over to:

VB 2021-04-17 vs MVC – John’s Photos

 

Gwen Gustafson visualizes the ace she’s about to rip off.

Former CHS star Hope Lodell is back, but now she’s tracking the exploits of a new generation of spikers.

Kylie Chernikoff shows off her laser focus.

Isabel Johnson cranks up the power to 11.

One name, two legends. Emma Mathusek (left) and Emma Smith scope out the Wolf players trying to follow in their (large) footsteps.

Chelsea Prescott gets artful.

75% of the Kiel family follows their favorite sport. L to r, it’s Katie, Lanie, and Steve, while only Kacie is MIA.

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Big-hitting sophomore Lucy Tenore is a key part of this year’s CHS volleyball team. (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

Cory Whitmore has come home, after a fashion.

As he enters his fifth season at the helm of the Coupeville High School volleyball program, the Wolf coach and his players have jumped from 1A to 2B, joining the Northwest 2B/1B League.

For Whitmore, it’s a bit like returning to his own days as a young’un at Ritzville, where he played football, basketball, and track at the 2B level.

“I look forward to the change in classification, particularly our new league,” he said. “This league regularly produces teams that go deep into playoff runs and even some state champions.

“We will need to bring it every night, and our standards and expectations are wherever we hold them to.”

Coupeville has found dramatic success under Whitmore, racking up a 48-18 record over the past four seasons.

The Wolves started with back-to-back 1A Olympic League titles, and a trip to state in 2017, then finished second behind powerhouse King’s the past two seasons in the 1A North Sound Conference.

That last season, which ended way back in the fall of 2019 before the pandemic put the world on pause, CHS went 14-5, tying the program record for wins in a single season.

Now, King’s is gone, but La Conner, the two-time defending 2B state champs, is the big baddie on the block.

Whitmore, ever enthusiastic, is ready for the challenge.

“Entering a new league without much prior experience with any teams in the league, we will enter each game as an opportunity to perform our absolute best and respect every team we face across the net.

“We know that La Conner always puts together very strong teams and has been recent state champions at the 2B classification,” he added. “They will of course put together a wildly strong team, and we will work to do the same.”

That squad, while down eight seniors from the last go-around, has several players with considerable experience.

Seniors (l to r) Kylie Chernikoff, Maddie Vondrak, and Chelsea Prescott will be team leaders.

Senior Chelsea Prescott, who has been a lethal weapon since day one, anchors the team, with a diverse group of players around her.

Chelsea will handle a large load of the offensive weight we will bring this year,” Whitmore said. “She has built a lot of experience at the varsity level over these last few years and has worked hard to be where she is at today.

“She was on the edge of her breakthrough before going down with her ankle injury – she has bounced back tremendously and we are excited to see what she can do.”

Joining Prescott will be big hitters like seniors Maddie Vondrak and Kylie Chernikoff, as well as sophomore sensation Lucy Tenore.

“We will rely on (Maddy and Lucy’s) experience as we race through an abbreviated season that will be one full of adaptations,” Whitmore said.

Kylie saw the varsity court a couple times last season and anchored the offensive attack her junior year on JV,” he added. “She has made the leap to varsity without missing a beat and adds a spark of energy we will need.”

Other players expected to have big impacts at the varsity level include sophomores Maddie Georges, Alita Blouin, and Jill Prince, junior Abby Mulholland, and seniors Jaimee Masters and Heidi Meyers.

Georges replaces the graduated Scout Smith at setter, an especially crucial spot.

Maddie has used the “off-season” — if we can call it that — very productively and is going to jump in to manage the offense at the setting position,” Whitmore said. “She’s ready for the next step.”

Sophomore Maddie Georges will run the offense from the setter position.

Alita, Jaimee, and Heidi have also grown since our last season – they have grown as passers and defenders in the back row, and all three get after the ball in practice, daily raising our competitiveness in the gym.”

While there has been a lot of turnover on the roster, the girls moving up are used to success, with the JV going a crisp 11-3 last season.

“Losing eight strong seniors from our 2019-2020 group has left plenty of question marks that needed to be addressed,” Whitmore said. “But having last season’s strong JV performance has definitely been important to reloading and keeping our expectations and standards as high as possible.

“This newer group had some terrific examples to learn from, and they have taken those lessons and in many ways have applied them already.”

While the Wolves had a chunk of pandemic time where they weren’t allowed to work together as a unit, individual players remained focused on what was ahead.

“The team will definitely look very different, having only four returning players with varsity experience,” Whitmore said. “But so many in this new group have worked hard, stayed engaged throughout the challenges and have earned this chance to compete and get out there to play.

“Growing pains are to be expected, but we also expect this group to grow right through them.”

The pandemic-shortened fall sports season, being played after spring sports this time around, will present unique challenges, with matches compressed into a one-month sprint.

“I know the time will fly by fast in this abbreviated season, but we definitely have some very clear goals that we will be progressing toward,” Whitmore said.

The Wolves want to work on team dynamics and chemistry, from day one to the end of the lightning-fast season, and beyond.

“With so many new faces and some new roles, it will be a shift for many to work with those they haven’t had the opportunity to just yet,” Whitmore said. “Our older members are very welcoming, but will have to also be mindful of the time that it can take for younger members to adapt to new speeds and systems; empathy and patience will go a long way.”

The Wolf coach will also continue to teach his charges, with the belief they can adapt on the fly.

“Another goal for this season will be for our group to take risks in learning newer concepts,” Whitmore said. “Based on new personnel, they will have to be adaptable and ready to make in-game changes and work through the natural level of comfort that comes with that.

“A lot of our success will come from this willingness to learn at an accelerated pace and take risks in order to progress as individual players and as a team and program.”

As always, the CHS spikers are aiming for first-place, no matter what rivals may be lurking in their path.

“We also always shoot to be finishing at the top of the league by the end of the season,” Whitmore said. “This is more so assessed on the basis of whether or not we are “peaking” at the right time as a unit.

“That can be hard to measure, but our mindset is growth, and “success” will naturally follow that growth,” he added. “This group has already demonstrated an impressive willingness to learn. I can’t overstate how important that is, not only for this year but every year.”

To build a program similar to what La Conner, with its five state titles, has achieved, takes talented players, but also a deep commitment from all involved. That’s something Whitmore preaches.

“Each player that we have worked with during our “off-season” months really worked hard on staying diligent to setting and being mindful about goals,” he said. “They regularly ask questions, request feedback and have even been resourceful in attempting to learn the game.”

Abby Mulholland is one of many JV players making the jump to varsity.

Over the course of a 12-match season, the Wolves will strive for wins, but also continued growth, as players and as a program.

“This season will be a great time to push ourselves in our versatility on both offense and defense,” Whitmore said. “We will have to be good at adapting, but this season will afford that as an actual goal of ours.

“We will try out some different defensive schemes and work to see where our offensive attack can be improved by mixing up our areas of threat.”

One key component of the game Whitmore wants his squad to focus on is service return.

“Serve receive is one of the hardest skills to perform in volleyball, but will always remain as one of the most important to determining the results of a set/match,” he said. “Serve receive takes a diligent attention to detail, but also just a ton of reps in order to gain experience that applies to the court on game days.”

As the season plays out, Whitmore and his staff, which includes Cris Matochi and former Wolf player Ashley Menges, will work on building leaders, for the short term and long term.

“It’s crucial to foster a strong leadership dynamic on the team,” Whitmore said. “With a large number of younger players filling large roles, it will be critical to their development this year and in potential future seasons/teams that they start to shift their attention to the intangibles, such as leadership qualities and skills.

“It’s a huge component and sometimes overlooked aspect of successful programs and so we hope to work on training leadership through active discussion and facilitation.”

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