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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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Avalon Renninger (John Fisken photo)

   Freshman Avalon Renninger hit for a team-high four points in her high school basketball debut. (John Fisken photo)

(Amy King photo)

   Emma Mathusek (left) models the beginning of the black eye she got Tuesday, while Hannah Davidson demonstrates how it happened. (Amy King photo)

Emma Mathusek had a memorable high school basketball debut.

The Coupeville freshman knocked down the first basket of the season Tuesday, finished with a team-high four points and got her bell rung, departing with “a really cool black eye.”

Her offensive touch, and facial sacrifice, weren’t enough to save the Wolf JV, however, as host Blaine used a height advantage to roll to a 28-16 non-conference win.

And when I say height advantage, I mean the Borderites had a 6-foot-3 girl somehow playing JV ball.

“I believe that is where Blaine broke the game open,” said a deadpan Coupeville coach Amy King.

While the Wolves have no one remotely close to that tall (especially on the JV level), they didn’t back down from the rampaging giant.

“It was a well fought battle,” King said. “Tonight we had a group of hard-working, feisty JV’ers. This being the first actual high school game for half the team, we did well.

Ema (Smith), Hannah (Davidson) and Nicole (Lester), with help from Sarah (Wright) one quarter, were as strong as could be in the post,” she added. “We were able to shut her (the 6’3 girl) down or block her when she brought the ball down low and definitely made it uncomfortable at every opportunity.”

King was pleased with the defensive effort she got from the top of her rotation to the bottom.

“The girls went back and forth between a man and an aggressive zone defense – all worked together, looked for steals and caused a lot of turnovers,” she said.

“Every wing who stepped foot on the court did an outstanding job on defense and helping move the ball on offense,” King added. “Maddy (Hilkey) really shut players down.”

The Wolf coach also had praise for the ball-handling skills of Scout Smith and Ashlie Shank, and the scrappiness of Maya Toomey-Stout, Tia Wurzrainer, Renninger and Mathusek.

“They showed what they were made of, stopping drives and making Blaine work for every point they got,” King said. “It was an improvement from Saturday’s jamboree and they will only continue to get better.”

Mathusek and Renninger paced Coupeville with four points apiece, while Wright, Davidson, Smith and Hilkey netted two apiece.

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Jered Brown (John Fisken photo)

   Wolf freshman Jered Brown made an auspicious debut Tuesday night. (John Fisken photo)

This could be the start of something big.

Proving he’s ready for the spotlight from moment one, Coupeville High School freshman Jered Brown wasted no time.

Making his varsity debut Tuesday in the fourth quarter of an opening night loss to visiting Blaine, the Wolf gunner touched the ball for the first time and promptly drilled a three-bomb bomb from the right side.

It was the one moment the crowd truly went bonkers all night, and provided a ray of sunshine on an otherwise stormy evening.

Brown also slid a pair of free-throws through the twines, but even his perfection with the rock wasn’t enough to save Coupeville.

Hammered by a 22-0 run in the second quarter, the Wolves lost their grasp on a once-close game and fell 72-28.

CHS, which returns just two varsity players in Gabe Wynn and Hunter Smith, looked and played like a squad still adjusting to each other and the faster, more physical style of varsity basketball.

The Borderites, a deep, aggressive 2A team, won the battle in the trenches — hitting the boards with a fury — and on the outskirts, dropping seven treys, primarily on kick-outs to wide-open guys in the corners.

Coupeville actually led early (really early) when Wynn knocked down a pull-up jumper to kick off his senior campaign.

A bucket from Brian Shank, on a sweet roll to the hoop on which he sliced through a pack of Blaine defenders, knotted things at 4-4 and gave hope that the sizable opening night crowd was in for a fight to the finish.

Unfortunately things got away from the Wolves in a hurry.

Blaine dropped in a pair of three-balls to stretch the lead out to 14-7 after the first eight minutes of play, then went into lock-down mode in a second quarter that was brutally efficient.

In between a pair of free-throws from Ariah Bepler and a bucket in the paint from Steven Cope, the Borderites ripped off a game-busting run of 22 consecutive points.

After hitting three straight bombs from behind the arc, Blaine made off with back-to-back running layups off of steals, as they used their full-court press to utterly confound the inexperienced Wolves.

Things didn’t get much better after the break, as frequent steals and treys propelled the Borderites on another run, this time to a tune of 24-7.

Smith provided all the offense for the Wolves in the quarter, dropping in seven of his team-high 11 points.

The highlight came on a play where he juked his defender out of his shoes, then pulled back and nailed a soft trey from the top.

Coupeville made a stand in the final quarter, “winning” the fourth 10-9 using a sharp eye at the charity stripe and Brown’s smooth touch.

While he wasn’t a fan of the final score, CHS coach Anthony Smith knows he has a team that is very much a work in progress.

“They (Blaine) came to play. They can take you out of your game, and we have some guys who haven’t played at this level before. It’s a different game,” he said.

“It was a good thing it was a non-conference game,” Anthony Smith added. “We’ll watch some film and get back in the gym and get ready for Sultan Friday. We will get better.”

Hunter Smith (11), Wynn (5) and Brown (5) combined for 21 of Coupeville’s 28 points, while Shank added three and Cope and Bepler chipped in with two apiece.

Joey Lippo hit the boards hard in his return to the court after a year off, while Hunter Downes and Cameron Toomey-Stout contributed with scrappy defense and hustle.

JV falls:

Much like the varsity, the young guns, who have 12 freshmen on a 13-man roster, are a work in progress.

After Sean Toomey-Stout banged home a jumper from the right side, the Wolves were within 5-4 and looked to be right in the thick of things.

Then came a 26-0 run by the Borderites, stretching over chunks of the first and second quarters, and things got progressively bleaker en route to a 67-17 defeat.

Toomey-Stout paced CHS with four points, also banking in a silky runner, while Jacobi Pacquette-Pilgrim (3), Brown (3), Ulrik Wells (2), Koa Davison (2), Nikolai Lyngra (2) and Aiden Juras (1) all chipped in.

Mason Grove, Elliott Johnson, Aram Leyva and Kyle Rockwell all saw playing time as well.

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Makana Stone, seen here on signing day, lit up the joint during her first college basketball game. (Sylvia Hurlburt photo)

   Makana Stone, seen here on signing day, lit up the joint Wednesday during her first college basketball game. (Sylvia Hurlburt photo)

Well, that didn’t take very long.

One game into her college basketball career, and Coupeville High School grad Makana Stone has already rocked the joint.

The Whitman College freshman came off the bench Wednesday to torch the nets for a team-high 10 points (on sweet 5-of-8 shooting), propelling her new squad to a season-opening 55-53 win over visiting Eastern Oregon.

Stone, a two-time Olympic League MVP during her legendary run in Cow Town, played 22 minutes for the Blues and used her time on the floor extremely well.

She snagged six boards and her shooting percentage (63%) was miles ahead of her teammates, who combined to shoot a chilly 26% (15-57).

Still, with Stone’s torrid debut to help lead the way, it was enough to topple an Eastern Oregon team which entered the night at 4-0.

Junior Casey Poe, who paced Whitman with 14 rebounds, knocked down a crucial free throw in the final seconds as Whitman held off a late charge from the Mountaineers.

Eastern Oregon sliced a nine-point deficit to one in the final three minutes, but couldn’t get a game-winning shot to drop.

Whitman will take its 1-0 record on the road for a five-game trip which kicks off with the Whit Classic in Spokane Nov. 18-19.

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Hunter

   Wolf QB Hunter Downes works on his timing in practice, as CHS Offensive Coordinator Brad Sherman observes. (John Fisken photo)

stands

   The temporary home stands for 2016. Maybe think about bringing a lawn chair. (Scott Losey photo)

Let the pads do the talking.

All the hype, all the side chatter, fades away Saturday night when Coupeville and South Whidbey step on the field to kick off the 2016 high school football season.

It’s opening night, it’s the ultimate Island rivalry game and it’s Cow Town vs. Hippieville, with a trophy, bragging rights and a flawless 1-0 record at stake.

Everything you need to know:

WHEN:

Sat., Sept. 3 at Mickey Clark Field in Coupeville (7 PM kickoff).

AT STAKE:

The winner takes possession of The Bucket for a year.

The trophy, which features a Wolf logo and colors on one side and a Falcon on the other, came into being in 2008 and was the brainchild of CHS Athletic Director Willie Smith, who explains its origins:

Ha ha … well, during a volleyball game at home against SW, one of our senior boys didn’t appreciate the cheering going on by the SW crowd.

So, this young man decided, erroneously and very immaturely, to take matters into his own hands.

He procured a licorice bucket, filled it with water, and proceeded to dump it on the SW crowd, who then chased him out of the gym and very nearly got into a brawl.

Said CHS student was suspended and it almost got really ugly between the two schools.

So, John Patton (former SW AD) and myself decided to turn this negative event into a positive and came up with the idea to make the football game the “Bucket Game” and whomever won that game would keep the bucket for the year.

Thus, the annual Bucket Game began.

The two schools have split the past four years, with Tony Maggio coaching Coupeville to wins in 2012 (18-13 in Langley) and 2014 (35-28 at home.)

South Whidbey scored three fourth-quarter TD’s last year to win 27-14 on its home turf in coach Michael Coe’s first game.

First-year Coupeville coach Jon Atkins makes his debut Saturday, with hopes of making his own splash.

COST:

Adults & students without ASB cards: $6
Students with ASB cards, K-5 students: $4
Seniors (62 +): $4
Family Rate (two adults & two K-5 students): $18

THE TRACK:

Thanks to a levy and a lot of hard work, CHS boasts a pristine new track oval around its football field, and Saturday presents the first opportunity for many to see it up close.

Marinate in the moment, but don’t drag your clodhoppers across the track, OK?

Operate with strip club rules: Look, but don’t touch, or else you may get to meet the bouncers.

SEATING:

The home stands were ripped out prior to the work on the track and the school is going with temporary accommodations for one year.

There will be stands, and they’re still on the same side as usual, but they won’t seat as many as before. Fans are encouraged to bring lawn chairs and blankets and camp out on the grass.

In 2017 new permanent stands (rumored to be covered ones) will rise up on the other side of the field, in front of the apartments, and home fans will switch sides and be closer to the parking lot.

When that happens, concessions will also be moved and new bathrooms will be available.

What is currently the home side will become the road side, but I repeat to everyone who is getting confused, THAT WILL NOT HAPPEN UNTIL 2017.

And, with that, nothing else is left to say except … let’s get ready to ruuuummmmmbbbblllleeeee!!!

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