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Posts Tagged ‘Mikayla Elfrank’

   Wolf junior Lindsey Roberts offers offensive pop and defensive intensity to a basketball squad seeking a fourth-straight league title. (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

   Kalia Littlejohn brings speed, scrappy defense and a never-say-die attitude to the floor every night.

“I still believe we are the team to beat.”

David King has been coaching long enough to see his share of both highs and lows. While he knows this year’s Coupeville High School girls squad is a team in transition, he’s ready for another battle.

After making a run to the state tourney two years ago, the Wolves returned to the district playoffs as Olympic League champs in 2016-2017, only to be unceremoniously bounced.

To which King says, shake it off.

“With improving daily and playing our best, we are gunning for the playoffs and taking the top spot in our league,” he said. “Last year we made it to the double-elimination round of districts, didn’t play well in either game.

“With time to reflect, we have a better understanding of what we need to do to prepare if we are in the position again.”

In the short run of the 1A Olympic League, which is entering its fourth season of basketball, Coupeville’s girls have been the undisputed big, bad beast.

Three straight conference titles and a 27-0 mark against rivals Port Townsend, Klahowya and Chimacum earns the Wolves a big target on their back. But it also increases their eagerness to defend and preserve that streak.

“The gap has closed with the other teams in our league,” King said. “Each team has some very good players, us included.

“At that point it comes down to the strengths you have as a team and how you can conquer and/or minimize your weaknesses.”

Port Townsend, led by senior Kaitlyn Meek, “has always played us tough and can challenge for the top spot” while Chimacum “battles every game and doesn’t quit until the final buzzer.”

Add in Klahowya, which “is a good defensive team, is always up for a challenge and plays us well,” and Coupeville has to bring its best game each night.

That shouldn’t be an issue, as talent runs deep on the Wolf bench.

While CHS lost key players – Lauren Grove, Kailey Kellner and Tiffany Briscoe graduated, Mia Littlejohn transferred and Lauren Rose is taking the season off — the Wolves retain considerable strength.

Juniors Lindsey Roberts and Kalia Littlejohn and seniors Mikayla Elfrank and Kyla Briscoe are the top returning veterans, while senior Allison Wenzel, juniors Sarah Wright and Ema Smith and sophomore Scout Smith are expected to play major roles.

Roberts and Elfrank, both entering their third season on the Wolf varsity, boast the most playing time of any returning veterans.

“Both will bounce between the wing and post,” King said. “They are our better post defenders, along with having the length and speed to guard very well on the perimeter.”

The duo will also see some time at point guard, a slot where Littlejohn and Briscoe will also be called upon.

Kalia came out and made great strides last year for our team,” King said. “This year, she has a year under her belt, more confidence and is comfortable. The obvious choice is having her be our spark plug from the point guard position.

Kyla is right up there with the other three; she was slowed last year with returning from an injury,” he added. “She’ll mainly be a wing-type player, but can lead us from the point guard position and also play the post when called upon.”

With his core four all able to bounce from position to position, and handle each role’s intricacies, King is afforded the luxury of being able to mix and match at will.

“The great thing about this foursome is that they have become very versatile and excel in each position they play,” he said. “They all can play multiple positions with minimal to no drop off at any of the positions.”

Sophomore Avalon Renninger will be a swing player, pulling time on both varsity and JV, while several other Wolves have a strong shot at eventually joining her in a similar role.

Juniors Ashlie Shank, Maddy Hilkey and Nicole Lester, sophomore Tia Wurzrainer and freshman Chelsea Prescott form that group.

“They’ll start out on JV (with coach Amy King), with the opportunity to showcase their skills and talent,” David King said. “There will be opportunities for each to earn and possibly become a swing player as the season progresses.

“All of them need to get the valuable playing time on the JV court to improve and hone their skills,” he added. “Right now, with eight to nine varsity players ahead of them, it would be hard to get playing time on a varsity court.”

Rounding out the Wolf roster are freshmen Mollie Bailey, Heidi MeyersGenna Wright and Kylie Chernikoff and foreign exchange student Julia Garcia Onoro.

Maddie Vondrak is team manager.

“What this group lacks in experience (being freshman or never playing before), they are showing they make it up with hustle and determination,” King said. “They aren’t afraid to step in and give 100% effort in each drill.

Mollie and Genna went to camp with us, which helps their learning curve at this stage,” he added. “All of them are fitting in really well and show a willingness to learn and get better.”

As both the varsity and JV prep for a new campaign, Wolf coaches have several areas they stress.

“To start the season our main goal is to get familiar with ourselves as a team,” King said. “Understand each other’s strengths and recognize how we can help each other by putting ourselves in positions to be successful. Play to our strengths.

“Every team starts at a certain level on day one,” he added. “Every team then looks to improve and get better each day. We are no exception.

“By the time the end of the season rolls around we want to be playing our best basketball.”

Some areas of focus include building mental toughness, which will help come playoff time, and learning patience on offense, which will help the Wolves capitalize on their opponents mistakes.

“Each year we seem to struggle with playing too fast, which in turn is out of control,” King said with a wry smile. “A team can play fast, but if it’s not controlled it leads to turnovers, bad shots and fouls. I like the fast pace, we just need to get better at playing fast and when to pull it back.

“We preach that mistakes will happen on every possession,” he added. “It’s the team that can move past that, that has the advantage. Learn from it, don’t quit and move forward.

“We are also working on players recognizing what the other teams are giving us and taking advantage of that.”

While Coupeville will have to figure out a way to replace the scoring punch offered by the players no longer in uniform, King likes the makeup of his current players, and the intangibles they bring to the floor.

“The players love to play defense and be disruptive and, top to bottom, many of the players are capable of being able to play two or three different positions,” King said. “We may not be the tallest team, but our athletic ability and overall team speed is second to none.

“Our post and wing players aren’t afraid of contact and are willing to do the dirty work and play strong in the post area.”

The greatest intangible, though, might be their chemistry.

“The team has a positive outlook with their teammates,” King said. “They are a family and are willing to help each other and have a great attitude.”

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   Wolf senior Allison Wenzel picked up a ton of new swag during her trip to the state volleyball tourney. (Susan Wenzel photo)

Another step on the ladder to success.

As Cory Whitmore goes about the business of building a volleyball dynasty in Coupeville, the second-year coach has guided the Wolves to new heights.

Back-to-back Olympic League titles, with CHS winning all 27 sets in conference play this season, and year #2 capped by a trip to the 1A state tourney.

The visit to Yakima, in which the Wolves found themselves trapped in the “Group of Death,” was Coupeville’s first trip to the big dance since 2004.

And, while CHS fell Friday to sixth-ranked and undefeated Castle Rock, and defending state champ Lakeside (Nine Mile Falls), Whitmore, once he recovered from the emotionally-draining adventure, came away pleased.

“We are very happy to have had this great experience to cap off a fun season with a fantastic group of student/athletes,” he said. “They worked extremely hard to get to this point and we are very fortunate to have took the season to the last possible week.”

Coupeville closed the season at 13-5, tying the ’04 squad for the most wins in a single season.

Castle Rock:

The Rockets, who split four matches on their way to taking home a 6th place trophy, made off with a 25-8, 23-25, 25-8, 25-9 win.

One of Coupeville’s biggest strengths this season ended up backfiring a bit on them, as its service game wilted a bit under pressure.

“In all but the second set, our serving was a struggle,” Whitmore said. “We were attempting to be too aggressive and so lost our consistency.”

That second set, though, was the high-water mark for the Wolves in the tourney.

“We were able to find their weak points, which kept their offense out of sync and we we able to turn their offense into ours,” Whitmore said.

Coupeville’s back row defense, led by Hope Lodell and Payton Aparicio, who both scraped the floor for 13 digs apiece, was a particular standout.

Emma Smith paced the Wolves at the net with four kills, while Kyla Briscoe, Mikayla Elfrank and Aparicio notched two apiece.

The Wolves, who are normally an ace-firing beast at the service stripe, never truly got untracked, with Aparicio and Ashley Menges each hitting on two.

Lakeside (Nine Mile Falls):

The Eagles came into the tourney flying high – defending champs, undefeated (having not dropped a single set) and top-ranked, only to crash to the court hard Friday afternoon.

Picked apart by fourth-ranked King’s, which would go on to win its third state title and first since 2009, Lakeside was not happy entering the day’s second match.

Coupeville felt the full brunt of that anger.

The final score was 25-12, 25-10, 25-16, though the Wolves put up a decent fight.

“In all three sets we came out flat but competed hard,” Whitmore said. “We served much more consistently than versus Castle Rock, allowing our defense to slow down their very strong and balanced offense.”

Elfrank smoked three kills, with Smith, Katrina McGranahan and Aparicio each recording two.

Menges connected on three service aces, with Coupeville’s back row players spreading out the digs.

Lodell (7), Aparicio (7), Menges (6), Lauren Rose (5) and Briscoe (4) all chipped in to a solid group effort.

In the four years of the 1A Olympic League, the Wolf spikers have jumped from one win to six to 11 to 13.

As Whitmore looks ahead to his third season at the helm (never too early to plan), he knows losing seven seniors hurts.

But having a solid base of younger varsity stars — current juniors Emma Smith and Menges, as well as sophomores Scout Smith and Maya-Toomey-Stout and freshman Chelsea Prescott — plus a JV squad which went 12-1, bodes well for the future.

“We set a goal to make it to state and with the milestone achieved, this group can hold their heads up high, knowing that they left all they had out there on the court through four-plus years of hard work and dedication,” Whitmore said.

“I’m so proud of what this group of seniors have accomplished in their time with Coupeville volleyball,” he added. “And very much look forward to next season with a group looking to follow their legacy.”

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   Wolf freshman Chelsea Prescott makes her debut on the varsity stat sheet. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

They’re sailing to new heights.

When this year’s seniors were raw freshmen, Coupeville High’s varsity volleyball team finished 1-11.

Jump forward three seasons, and the Wolves are rampaging along at 9-2, with three regular season matches left to play.

CHS is undefeated in league play (6-0), one win away from clinching back-to-back league titles and closing in quickly on the program’s record for victories in a season.

That mark is 13, set in 2004 by the last Wolf spiker squad to advance to the state tourney.

Coupeville just missed last year in Cory Whitmore’s first season as head coach, finishing 11-6 after two narrow losses at districts.

As the Wolves head into the final week of the regular season, now is a perfect time to catch up on all the stats piled up by the 12 young women who have appeared in a varsity match.

Stats through Oct. 22:

Sets Played:

Payton Aparicio 33
Kyla Briscoe 33
Hope Lodell 33
Katrina McGranahan 33
Ashley Menges 33
Scout Smith 33
Mikayla Elfrank 32
Emma Smith 32
Lauren Rose 30
Maya Toomey-Stout 17
Allison Wenzel 16
Chelsea Prescott 2

Kills:

Briscoe 58
Elfrank 52
McGranahan 49
Aparicio 43
E. Smith 35
S. Smith 23
Menges 5
Prescott 3
Lodell 2
Toomey-Stout 2
Rose 1

Kill Percentage:

Prescott 75.0
Toomey-Stout 50.0
Menges 45.5
McGranahan 41.9
E. Smith 36.8
Briscoe 36.0
Elfrank 34.4
Aparicio 30.1
S. Smith 23.7
Rose 11.1
Lodell 10.0

Hitting Percentage:

Toomey-Stout .500
Menges .364
McGranahan .248
Briscoe .236
Aparicio .140
E. Smith .137
Rose .111
Elfrank .020

Digs:

Lodell 102
Aparicio 63
Toomey-Stout 29
Briscoe 28
McGranahan 24
Rose 24
Elfrank 12
Menges 11
S. Smith 5
Wenzel 5
E. Smith 4
Prescott 2

Blocks:

Elfrank 20
McGranahan 15
E. Smith 11
S. Smith 3
Briscoe 2
Aparicio 1

Service Returns:

Lodell 163
Aparicio 121
Briscoe 91
Toomey-Stout 20
Wenzel 18
McGranahan 4
Rose 3
E. Smith 3
Menges 2
S. Smith 1

Assists:

Rose 138 (#9 in 1A)
Menges 98
Aparicio 16
S. Smith 9
Lodell 6
E. Smith 2
Elfrank 1
McGranahan 1
Prescott 1

Serving Percentage:

Prescott 100.0
Rose 95.7
Toomey-Stout 94.1
McGranahan 91.8
Aparicio 88.5
S. Smith 77.8
Menges 77.7
Briscoe 76.7
Lodell 75.3
Wenzel 57.1

Service Points:

Aparicio 122
Rose 85
McGranahan 79
Menges 56
Lodell 47
Briscoe 25
S. Smith 7
Toomey-Stout 6
Wenzel 4

Service Aces:

Aparicio 50 (#1 in 1A)
Rose 29
Lodell 26
McGranahan 25
Menges 19
Toomey-Stout 14
Briscoe 12
S. Smith 3
Wenzel 2
Prescott 1

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   Mikayla Elfrank, seen here last season, hit like a tornado Tuesday as Coupeville drilled Klahowya in a first-place battle. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

There are a lot of plays in a volleyball season, so it’s usually pretty hard to pick just one as a defining moment.

Until Mikayla Elfrank goes and breaks a girl’s face in half, reaches in and sucks her soul out, and a gym full of people react as if they all just got blasted in the nads.

Game. Set. Match. Play of the year.

When the Coupeville High School senior (accidentally?) crushed a spike off of a Klahowya rival’s skull Tuesday, it hit with so much force the ball almost shot back over the net.

It would be one of the few times the Eagles had a semi-legitimate shot at returning a Wolf volley, as CHS romped to a 25-14, 25-11, 25-15 win and moved into sole possession of first place in the Olympic League.

Intent on defending its title, Coupeville improved to a flawless 2-0 in league play, 4-1 overall.

That puts the Wolves a half game up on Klahowya (2-1, 3-3), while Chimacum (1-2, 1-4) and Port Townsend (0-2, 1-3), which hosts CHS Thursday, are stuck in neutral.

Frankly, there’s a much bigger gap between the Wolves and the Eagles than that half-game margin.

A senior-dominated Wolf squad waited three weeks for its first home match (and then an extra hour-plus, after Klahowya missed its ferry) and came out hyped-up and ready to go on a rampage.

Coupeville has big hitters galore (Elfrank, Katrina McGranahan, Emma Smith, Payton Aparicio and Kyla Briscoe to name a few) and they spent most of Tuesday peppering the Eagles.

Shots zinged off of arms, legs and the floor, and then, late in the second set, Elfrank got nasty.

Now I’ve seen volleyball players get hit in the face before.

I’ve seen Chelsea Prescott explode a girl’s nose with a spike in a middle school game, forcing Coupeville AD Willie Smith to bring out the extra-big roll of blood-absorbing paper towels.

But this? This was a once-in-a-lifetime display of raw power and unrelenting fury.

Sort of like last year when a Wolf softball slugger named Mikayla Elfrank cranked a home-run to straight-away center at Sequim which dented a carnival ride beyond the fence.

In other words, don’t mess with Mikayla. Cause she will mess you up.

Launching herself skyward, Elfrank swung her fist like Thor dropping his hammer on Loki’s head, giving the hapless Eagle in front of her .00001 of a second to blink before her world view exploded into a pretty, pretty fireworks display.

A boom (more like a BOOOOOOOOOOOM) cracked through the gym, the Klahowya player took a tentative step to her right, one to her left, then simply sat down (while her brain told her not to stand back up ever again) and started to laugh.

That not a single drop of blood was shed was remarkable, and to her credit, the Eagle played the remainder of the match, after her teammates gave her an impromptu concussion test.

While she might have been able to follow their fingers with her eyeballs, those peepers also remained wide open the rest of the match, perpetually scanning for any movement from the panther-like Elfrank.

Coupeville and Klahowya play twice more this season, but it was very evident Tuesday the Wolves have the upper hand.

Exactly as CHS coach Cory Whitmore planned it.

“It was a very nice execution of our game plan,” he said. “We were very aggressive on our serving, and very clean with our hits.

“We had a nice balance, low on errors and high on termination.”

The Wolves put many points away without a rally, averaging almost seven service aces a set.

Aparicio led the way, ripping off six, while Lauren Rose (5), Hope Lodell (4) and McGranahan (4) were hot on her heels.

Lodell, who has willingly adjusted her game to fill the considerable gap left by the graduated Valen Trujillo, was the first Wolf to put a serious crimp in the Eagles style.

The senior slugger, operating as “The Surgeon,” ripped off two aces, packaged around a point won by a gorgeous tip from McGranahan, to crack open a semi-close first set.

CHS never trailed by more than a single point at any time in the match, and with Lodell staking them to a 10-7 lead in the first set, the rout was on.

Super sophomore Scout Smith delivered the first set’s most emphatic point, slicing a winner which slid past two defenders and bit the line as it skidded off for a date with the back wall.

After that it was pretty much all winners, all the time, with Emma Smith shredding a girl’s elbow with a laser shot, Briscoe flying forward and poking a ball into a two-inch gap between a pair of Eagles for a point and Elfrank spraying cannon shots in all directions.

The big hits get the headlines, but Rose (10 assists) and Ashley Menges (8) did the dirty work, setting up their teammates, while Maya Toomey-Stout (four digs) and Allison Wenzel chipped in as all 11 Wolves had an impact.

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   Wolf sophomore Lucy Sandahl was on fire Saturday at the South Whidbey Invite. (John Fisken photos)

   Mikayla Elfrank (5) showed off the benefits of off-season work with her play at the tourney.

   Fab frosh (l to r) Maddie Vondrak, Chelsea Prescott and Savannah Smith. (Konni Smith photo)

One step at a time.

A deep, veteran Coupeville High School volleyball squad has lofty goals this season, but, to get there, the Wolves need to keep making progress each time they take the court.

Coach Cory Whitmore knows that, and he preaches it to his spikers, who are responding.

His varsity, and a sizable chunk of the JV squad, gave up half of their weekend, spending much of Saturday down at the southern end of Whidbey.

And it sounds as if it was worth it, as the Wolf varsity rolled undefeated through pool play, eventually finishing third at the 12-team South Whidbey Invite.

Coupeville’s JV, a last-minute addition to the tourney after another school finked out, held its own playing against mostly varsity competition, claiming 8th.

“I was happy with what we accomplished today, taking steps toward our long term goals, both at the varsity and JV level,” Whitmore said. “Great lessons learned going into practice this coming week and should help to serve as motivation for what needs to be done to reach our post-season goals.”

Varsity:

Coupeville rolled to straight-sets wins in all three of its pool clashes.

After knocking off the South Whidbey JV 25-22, 25-13, the Wolves thrashed varsity squads from Lopez Island (25-13, 25-9) and Friday Harbor (25-12, 25-18).

“Friday Harbor was our strongest performance during the day,” Whitmore said. “At any one point in the game, we had all six players staying disciplined and playing within themselves and the team concept from the start to the finish.

“Our focus and energy was at its strongest to finish pool play.”

Seniors Lauren Rose (back from a leg injury) and Mikayla Elfrank powered the Wolves against Friday Harbor.

Whitmore doled out particular praise to the big-hitting Elfrank, who is an electric player when everything is clicking.

“I’m proud of the work that Mikayla has put in in the off-season and regularly after practice,” he said. “She never settles with where she’s at and Lauren communicates well with her to put her hitter in a strong position to succeed.”

Coupeville was strong across the board, with Payton Aparicio and Ashley Menges on fire at the service line.

Payton too has worked incredibly hard to improve her role, but as an outside, she has to serve, pass, block, dig and hit,” Whitmore said. “She shouldered the load really well and remained incredibly reliable in each set.”

Senior libero Hope Lodell, who has shifted positions this season to replace the graduated Valen Trujillo, was the glue for the Wolves.

“She anchored our serve receive and far back defense – I was happy with the progression she made as a defender and reading the hitters,” Whitmore said. “She looked very comfortable back there.

Katrina McGranahan, Kyla Briscoe, Emma Smith, Scout Smith and Allison Wenzel filled their roles really well and had strong moments as well,” he added.

The Wolves stumbled a bit in the gold bracket finals against Nooksack Valley and South Whidbey’s varsity, but getting the kinks out in tourney play should help Coupeville as it sails back into regular season play.

“We got fairly tentative from both the service line and very reactive to our opponents’ serves and attacks,” Whitmore said. “Against tough teams, such as we faced in the top bracket, we needed to take more risks and work to control the tempo.”

JV:

Coupeville rolled out five sophomores — Raven Vick, Maya Toomey-Stout, Emma Mathusek, Zoe Trujillo and Willow Vick — and freshmen Chelsea Prescott, Savannah Smith and Maddie Vondrak.

“I’m also very happy with what I saw from our JV group playing against mostly varsity teams,” Whitmore said. “I was happy to see our sophomore group play together, with a lot of ball control and composure, and then our freshman middles learn at a rapid pace, holding their own just fine.”

Sandahl was in the thick of things, guiding her squad like a wizard.

Lucy did a great job working as the setter the entire day,” Whitmore said. “She worked incredibly hard for her teammates and did a nice job of managing the passes given to her, setting up her hitters for success.”

New Wolf JV coach Chris Smith came away from his first tourney pleased with both results and effort.

The young guns took four sets off of varsity teams, winning two against Lopez and one apiece against Port Angeles and Orcas.

“This was an awesome opportunity and challenge for our talented and tenacious sophomore squad that plays with a lot of energy and resolve,” Smith said. “Although this group is relatively small in stature they came up with a lot of big plays.”

Coupeville’s freshmen trio also stood tall.

“I was very happy with the help we got from Maddie, Chelsea and Savannah,” Smith said. “These three freshmen added a lot of height to our team and created a solid presence in the middle.

“I was very happy with the comments I received throughout the day from opposing coaches and players about how scrappy we were on defense.”

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