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Senior captain Scout Smith delivered 22 assists and four service aces Saturday as Coupeville volleyball mashed Chimacum, improving to 3-0 on the season. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Maddie “The Mad Masher” Vondrak rattles the gym (and the soul of every rival player) with a knee-buckling spike. (Photo by Brian Vick)

Maddie Vondrak was on fire. Maybe literally.

At one point during her torrid performance Saturday afternoon, the Coupeville High School junior stepped back after smashing another wicked spike and fanned herself.

Now, maybe it was just that the gym was a little warm on a summer-like day and she had been bouncing around like a wild woman.

Or, maybe it was that Vondrak, who introduced her fists to Chimacum, did a mic check on both of them, then unleashed holy hell on the Cowboys, was so red-hot she was burning up from the inside out.

Probably the second choice.

Either way, with Vondrak and her teammates mashin’ the ever-livin’ crud out of the ball, Coupeville strolled to a straight-sets win in its home opener, improving to a flawless 3-0 on the season.

The non-conference victory, coming on the heels of victories at Friday Harbor and Anacortes, was fast, brutal, and a lot of fun for the Wolf fans who wandered in to the gym to see a show.

It played out to a crisp ‘n tasty 25-11, 25-12, 25-5 tune, full of lightning bolts disguised as service aces, and big, booming put-aways from a Wolf unit which utterly dominated at the net.

It started early in the first set, with Zoe Trujillo and Hannah Davidson delivering winners which blistered the skin of their rivals as they zinged by, smashed into the floor, then skidded out the side door.

Trujillo’s laser tore a chunk out of a Chimacum player’s unfortunate fingers, while Davidson’s blast crushed the back-line, tearing off flecks of paint as it shot away from the Cowboy defense.

Davidson, a volleyball and basketball standout who is rumored to be considering a return to softball for her senior swan song, was on point all afternoon from the service stripe, as well.

She turned the match from a semi-close affair to the start of a romp with her first run at the line, turning a 9-7 advantage into a 15-7 lead.

One ace was as artful as it was unexpected, a high, looping serve which touched the heavens (or the gym roof, at least), then dropped between two Chimacum players, kissing the floor with a gentle, happy plop.

Not that the power show was gone for long, as Vondrak flung herself skyward to reject a Cowboy return of a Davidson serve, with the ensuing spike slamming into the floor with the sound of a melon hitting the pavement after being thrown from the top of the Empire State Building.

At which point Vondrak whirled to the side, did a little bounce, a stamp on the floor as her teammates converged on her, then another twirl back around, a death mask slipping back down her face to hide the smile she otherwise wears 99.992% of the time.

Chimacum played the remainder of the match — it was in their contract — but the Cowboys were a lot more gun-shy after that, staying safely back from the net whenever possible.

Vondrak, hunched over, arms twirling, ready to unleash hot death ‘n destruction, stared straight ahead, her unspoken thoughts fairly easy to read from the stands.

“You can run, my little Cowboys, but you can’t hide. Mamma’s coming back and she’s bringing spankings for every one of you!!”

The second set was a lot more of what folks saw in the first.

Chimacum stayed competitive for a few points, continued to show a lot of hustle, but had no way of dealing with the laser show erupting from the other side of the net.

When it wasn’t Vondrak or Davidson, it was Maya Toomey-Stout sprinting around the court, then erupting skyward to unleash her own version of scorched Earth.

Or, Chelsea Prescott gliding in from the sides, dropping the hammer of the gods.

Or, Scout Smith, in mid-air, about to drop another perfect set-up for a teammate, and then, instead, corkscrewing her body while in flight, defying the physical laws of the universe itself and flicking a lil’ winner over the net and into an impossibly-small hole in the defense.

Everyone on the floor for the Wolves chipped in with something special, with Willow Vick, Lucy Sandahl and Raven Vick coming off the bench to peg sweet serves, while Kylie Chernikoff and Lucy Tenore, the net-minders of the future, displayed their own skills at slappin’ spikes.

If the first two sets had moments when things seemed sort of balanced between the teams, the third and final frame was all Coupeville, all the time.

Smith opened the set by running off nine straight points on her serve, before Prescott came around to deliver her own nine-point assault on Chimacum.

Up 19-1 at one point, the Wolves looked for their entertainment by upping the difficulty on some plays.

Coming hot on the heels of smashes from Toomey-Stout, who hung in the air for an impossible amount of time before zinging a winner, and Vondrak, who scorched the hardwood with her kill, CHS pulled off the rally of the afternoon.

It started with Smith running full-tilt off the right side of the court for save #1, picked up momentum when Emma Mathusek flung herself across the floor for save #2, then finished with Toomey-Stout delivering the coup de grâce.

Roaring in to drive the final stake home, “The Gazelle” hit the ball so hard, if it didn’t pop, then a whole bunch of ear drums surely did.

And yet, with a match full of so much fury, the actual final point was a quiet, graceful one, with Prescott, moving like a ballet dancer, dropping an artfully-placed tip which found its resting place and refused to be returned.

Whether they used fury or grace, or some of both, the Wolf spikers filled up the stat sheet.

Vondrak finished with a team-high 10 kills, without a single error, which brought a particularly big smile to the face of Coupeville coach Cory Whitmore.

Prescott and Toomey-Stout chipped in with six kills apiece, while Mathusek (six digs), Davidson (six aces), and Vondrak (two solo blocks) topped other individual categories.

For Whitmore, the win was sweet, but the development of his players, both on and off the court, was bigger.

The Wolves hosted young volleyball players at a kids clinic earlier in the day, then ate lunch with the girls who will one day inherit their CHS uniforms.

Once on the floor, they seized momentum and pushed their advantages.

“We’re trying to develop the hitter/setter connection; we want to use a varied offense and be able to attack from multiple places and different directions,” Whitmore said. “We’re definitely making progress on that.

“It was also nice to see how the players responded to running the clinic,” he added. “It all made for a good Saturday – not a bad day at all.”

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Coupeville ace Heidi Meyers launches a wicked serve Saturday at a jamboree in Oak Harbor. (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

The Wolf stars of the future are ready to blister rival JV teams today.

Libero Emma Mathusek goes low to set up her teammates, as Maya Toomey-Stout monitors the play.

Scout Smith has mad skills.

Hannah Davidson hammers the volleyball with enough fury to deflate the sucker.

New C-Team coach Krimson Rector keeps her spike-happy assassins under control.

Three times the talent, as Wolf juniors (l to r) Kylie Chernikoff, Maddie Vondrak, and Chelsea Prescott plan out a winning season.

The CHS varsity must crush you. It is their nature.

The first spikes have been pounded, the first photographs captured.

The Coupeville High School volleyball squads opened a new season Saturday by taking part in a jamboree in Oak Harbor, and their coach left the gym with a positive mindset.

“It went well for our first outing as a new team,” said CHS head man Cory Whitmore. “I’m excited about the starting point and the direction we are headed.”

The Wolves had both varsity and JV teams on the floor, and both came away with three wins apiece on the day.

“We competed well,” Whitmore said. “We have plenty to work on, and much of it will be just continuing to become familiar with players in new roles/filling positions.

“I thought that we had very consistent serving throughout the day and this is a big part of our identity.”

While Whitmore was pleased with the effort and skill shown across the board, a few Wolves had an especially strong day.

“I thought that Hannah Davidson has done a great job stepping up as a primary attacker, as we will need her to be,” Whitmore said.

Chelsea Prescott and Zoe Trujillo both showed that they will be big contributing members of the offense as well, and will continue to develop their connection with Scout Smith’s sets.”

Fab frosh Lucy Tenore, who is making the jump from middle school to being a swing player for the top team right out of the gate, had a strong debut.

Lucy did a great job filling in as our secondary middle blocker,” Whitmore said. “While she will primarily play JV this season, she showed that she is right there with our varsity-level players and will continue to grow at a fast rate.”

With a taste of live action against rival teams under their belt, the Wolves move ever closer to matches which count in the win/loss column.

Coupeville opens with road matches at Friday Harbor (Sept. 12) and Anacortes (Sept. 17), before making its first appearance in the CHS gym Sept. 21, when Chimacum comes to Whidbey.

Whitmore and Co. are just happy to be in the gym every day, no matter the circumstances.

“Very excited to get back to work at Monday’s practice, progressing toward our long-term goals.”

 

To see more photos from the jamboree, pop over to:

https://www.johnsphotos.net/Sports/Coupeville-Volleyball/VB-2019-09-07-Jamboree-at-Oak-Harbor/

When you purchase photos, a percentage of each sale goes into a fund which covers two scholarships awarded to CHS senior student/athletes at the end of the school year.

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Hannah Davidson (11) and Maya Toomey-Stout are part of a dynamic group of seniors who will lead CHS volleyball this season. (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

Emma Mathusek is another key returning player for a strong Wolf squad.

Let’s keep the good times rolling.

That’s the goal for the high-powered Coupeville High School volleyball squad as it heads into year four under the guidance of coach Cory Whitmore.

The Wolf spikers are on a streak of three-straight seasons of 11 wins or more, with a trip to state in the middle of that run.

Since Whitmore entered the gym to take the reigns, Coupeville has amassed a 35-16 mark, with back-to-back titles in the Olympic League followed by a second-place showing last season in the new North Sound Conference.

Now, as the Wolves get ready to make another run at King’s, South Whidbey and Co., they will have to do so without two key players.

Emma Smith, a First-Team All-Conference pick last season, and steady team leader Ashley Menges are no more, having swapped out spikes and sets for the lives of college freshmen.

“As a team, we have talked openly about what it’s going to take in order to make up for the loss of Ashley and Emma, and they’re excited for the challenge,” Whitmore said.

Ashley and Emma leave such an impact on the program that we’ll need a collection of players – returning and new to varsity playing time – to step up in a variety of ways.”

While the loss of the duo stings, the Wolf bench is crammed with talented, battle-hardened players.

“We are very excited to return a large core number of our players from last year’s strong season,” Whitmore said.

Leading the way are Maya Toomey-Stout (First Team) and Scout Smith (Second Team), who both earned All-Conference honors as juniors.

“They have continued to improve their game this off-season,” Whitmore said. “They will attract attention as primary setter (Scout) and as an effective outside hitter (Maya).

Hannah Davidson (middle blocker), Emma Mathusek (libero), and Chelsea Prescott (outside hitter) all contributed considerable playing time during the past season and continue to grow in their strength and confidence.”

Prescott, a junior who has played at the varsity level for most of her prep career, is the lone non-senior in that core group.

While the first five are pretty much set, the battle to fill out the roster will be an intense one.

“We’re really excited about the players that will fight to fill the vacant roles on the varsity squad,” Whitmore said. “Many players — upper and underclassmen alike — had a great off-season.

“They worked really hard to not only set themselves up for a great chance to fill empty positions and roles, but also to keep and raise the standard and lofty goals we have for the season.”

While this year’s squad should be a largely senior-dominated one, Whitmore and assistant coach Chris Smith won’t be left with a completely bare cupboard. The future is here, and it’s already ready to contribute.

“As a coaching staff, we have been very impressed with this incoming freshman class,” Whitmore said. “Not just here as practices have started, but early on in the summer.

“It has been our highest-attending group of freshman to summer functions (practices, camps, fundraisers, volunteer opportunities, etc.) and this dedication and hard work early on will pay off.”

As always, the Wolves are aiming high, with plans to fight for the league title and earn a return to the state tourney.

Defending league champ King’s, which claimed 3rd place at state last year, is the mountain in their way, but the North Sound Conference offers no easy matches.

“The both exciting and frustrating thing about this particular league is we will have to bring our best effort night-in and night-out,” Whitmore said. “We will have to respect every team in order to finish in the top tier, and, having had some success last season, teams will be wary of what we can do as well.”

Breaking down the opponents, he notes King’s is “always strong and will return key players from their very successful team” while Cedar Park Christian “returns many of their players that we battled with in numerous five-set matches last year.”

“South Whidbey always reloads and is well-prepared,” Whitmore added. “Sultan and Granite Falls put together scrappy teams that don’t seem to go away.

“We can’t look past anyone, but we also talk about how we will focus primarily on our side of the net, and that right there is a strong foundation to build upon toward our goals.”

One of those primary targets is to play progressively stronger as a team as the season unfolds.

“It is always our goal to be playing our best, most cohesive volleyball, peaking at the end of the season and this goal is very much on our mind, even as we’ve just started practices,” Whitmore said.

Another area Coupeville will stress is attacking efficiency, controlling how points are scored and pushing the action hard at any opponent, regardless of record.

“We will need to focus on our ability to put the ball away,” Whitmore said. “While every opponent will have to earn their points against our aggressive defense, we will have to generate our own high-powered offense to respond.

“Again, we openly discuss our lack of height and just see this as another challenge that will take hard work and creativity to overcome,” he added.

“We will need to be efficient passing the ball in order to allow Scout to set a consistent attack coming from various places along the net. We talk about how this is built up over time and will take patience and a group effort in order to achieve.”

While the Wolves don’t have a ton of tree toppers patrolling the net, they have smart, tough, springy players who have been playing with each other over the course of multiple seasons in multiple sports.

“One of our strengths that we will rely upon this season will be our ability to rely on productive communication,” Whitmore said. “This group has a strong rapport with each other through years of familiarity, as well as experience playing with each other on various competitive sports teams.

“This experience and ability to communicate will be essential as we push toward our goals and need to make in-match adjustments against tough opponents,” he added.

Of Coupeville’s core five players, four have been to state in more than one sport, with Smith, Prescott, and Mathusek playing key roles for a Wolf softball squad which had a strong run in Richland last spring.

In addition to pegging spikes at the big dance during her sophomore volleyball campaign, Toomey-Stout has competed at the state track and field meet three years running.

That kind of experience should hopefully pay off big time when the Wolves find themselves in tense, back-and-forth brawls on the court this season.

“We will also fall back on a strong level of experience,” Whitmore said. “This group has had to compete with each other in trying situations and, like with communication, the experience will allow us to settle in during high-pressure moments.

“These competitive characteristics, matched with a strong serve, tenacious defense and a high volleyball-IQ, should allow us to be competitive no matter the team across the net.”

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Having snagged a hot grounder, Scout Smith is a moment away from pulling off a tag-and-throw double-play. (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

The power of the sign compels you.

Wolf sluggers (l to r) Mackenzie Davis, Sarah Wright, and Veronica Crownover live the dugout life.

Someone call the authorities … Joe Lippo has control of the scoreboard.

Mollie Bailey fires the ball back, while…

big sis McKayla swings by her old field and is immediately stalked by paparazzi.

Izzy Wells deals wicked heat.

What operated quicker Tuesday, the scoreboard or the camera?

With Coupeville High School softball pushing 13 runs across the plate in a win over South Whidbey, the board was poppin’.

But so was paparazzi to the stars John Fisken, who kept his cameras humming on a cold, windy prairie day.

The photos above are courtesy him, and you can see much more by popping over to:

https://www.johnsphotos.net/Sports/Coupeville-Softball-2018-2019/SB-2019-04-23-vs-South-Whidbey/

When you do, keep in mind that any purchases help fund scholarships for CHS student/athletes.

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CHS junior Scout Smith, destroyer of worlds, walk-off grand-slam hitter, and newly-certified prairie legend. (Photo by Charlotte Young)

When Scout Smith is older, when she’s in the coach’s box like her mom and dad before her, when she’s possibly coaching her own children, her mind may drift back.

And, in that moment, she will be 16 years old again, a wiry fireball sauntering to the plate, the sun barely peeking out from behind a wall of clouds on the Coupeville prairie.

Scooter will remember the roar of the crowd, the feel of the bat in her hands, the look of fear in the pitcher’s eyes.

It will be April 15, 2019 one more time.

And then, as she squeezes her eyes shut, she will relive the moment she went from being a very good softball player to stepping into history, forever etching her name among the prairie legends.

All she needed was a hit, a poke into open space, a bouncer back up the middle, a way to plate Veronica Crownover and cap one of the great comeback wins in school history.

But very good softball players bounce the winner back up the middle.

Legends beat the ever-livin’ snot out of the ball and bash epic walk-off grand-slam home runs.

Scout Smith is no longer a very good softball player. She’s a legend.

And so it came to pass, that the Wolf softball sluggers, after rallying for three runs in the bottom of the seventh to force extra innings, crushed the very soul out of Cedar Park Christian, winning 8-4 on Smith’s blast in the bottom of the ninth.

The win lifts Coupeville to 4-1 in North Sound Conference play, 6-5 overall, leaving them in a first-place tie with Granite Falls (4-1, 7-5), while Cedar Park (3-2, 7-3) falls a game off the lead.

Riding the high of Monday’s victory, the Wolves travel to Granite Wednesday, where they will bid to take complete control of the league in one 72-hour tear.

For the moment, they will bask in a win in which they never held the lead until the final swing of the game.

Freshman hurler Izzy Wells was droppin’ fire, whiffing 11 CPC hitters, and the Wolf defense played inspired ball.

It didn’t matter where the ball was hit, because a Wolf (and her glove) were there to deny the Eagles time and again.

Wolf catcher Sarah Wright picked runners off multiple bases, shortstop Chelsea Prescott nailed a runner coming home with a sizzlin’ throw, Crownover pulled off multiple unassisted put-outs at first, and somehow Emma Mathusek topped them all.

Running on a full-out sprint in the 7th inning, the Wolf junior flat-out robbed Cedar Park’s best hitter, throwing out her mitt at the last second to swipe a rapidly-dropping ball from the heavens.

What looked like an extra-base hit became just another out, as Mathusek flipped the ball back in, then stalked away, almost daring anyone else to try and hit it within a mile of her mitt.

And yet, as it came up to hit in the bottom of the seventh, Coupeville trailed 4-1, with just a fourth-inning Mollie Bailey RBI single to its credit, and things looked dire.

The Wolves scraped together one run, mashing together a Wright single, a Bailey grounder which was booted for an error, and then a Crownover RBI single.

But, as quickly as the final-inning rally began, it almost ended.

A strikeout and a fielder’s choice grounder left the Wolves down to their final out, still trailing 4-2, while Cedar Park’s extremely-enthusiastic third-baseman celebrated as if the Eagles had just won a state title.

They had not.

If you didn’t know Wells was a freshman, nothing about the way she conducts herself on the softball diamond would give you a clue.

Perhaps her insides are a bubbling cauldron of anxiety. It’s possible.

But Wells projects extreme calmness.

Whether she’s firing pitches into Wright’s mitt, pulling off web gems, or standing tall at the plate, Ms. Unflappable is the most self-assured 9th grader since Katrina McGranahan debuted in 2015.

And, with the very same former Wolf ace sitting high in the stands, keeping up a pro-Izzy stream of comments, Wells responded.

Down to her final strike, she whipped her bat through the gentle prairie breeze, rocketing a single into center field, sending Bailey and Coral Caveness careening for home, and suddenly we had a whole new ball game.

Which almost ended on the very next batter.

In her first three trips to the plate, Smith had put good bat on the ball, only to have CPC fielders run down her shots.

Trip #4 was (almost) legendary, as she laced what looked like the game-winner, only to be denied one more time.

Not on getting a hit, as the ball tore a chunk out of the outfield grass this time, but when an admittedly great relay throw nailed Wells by a fingertip at the plate.

Wolf fans, seemingly denied the walk-off win, howled.

They quickly got over it, however.

Wells, who had been aces in the pitcher’s circle through seven innings, was lights out in the extra frames.

She faced the minimum six hitters across the eight and ninth, punching out three Eagles on strikeouts, while getting some help from Bailey, who made a beautiful snag on a checked-swing liner down the third-base line.

That set up magic time, otherwise known as the bottom of the ninth.

Operating under softball’s sometimes odd rules, both teams started play in the 9th inning by being handing a free runner at second.

While Cedar Park’s player never got more than an inch off the bag as Wells blitzed her teammates, Coupeville’s runner, Bailey, went a lot further.

After skipping to third on a passed ball, she took time out from her busy afternoon to dance on the bag, then found herself with nowhere to go even as two more batters got on base.

With one eye on Bailey, a CPC fielder booted Crownover’s chopper, but recovered quickly enough to keep the wily Wolf at third from scampering home.

Bailey was similarly stuck when Caveness dumped an infield single in front of the third-baseman, then found herself forced at home on a Wells grounder.

Bases juiced, two outs, edge of your seat, strangled cries from both sides, a prayer or two curling up into the sky.

Body language told it all.

The CPC hurler, so effective for so long, leaned back, a haunted look in her eyes, relentlessly snapping the ball into her glove, unable to control what had become a twitch over the final innings.

And at the plate, not a muscle moving, steely gaze boring a hole through the universe itself, Scout Smith, lil’ sister of Wolf greats CJ and Hunter, decided it was time to claim the title of “Best Freakin’ Athlete in the Family.”

It wasn’t just that she hit a home-run.

She flat-out destroyed the ball, her bat ripping it nearly in half, sending it on a line up, up and away as Wolf fans exploded out of their seats, tripping over themselves and each other, a shower of sunflower seeds cascading to the Earth as Smith rounded third.

The ball cleared the left field fence in a hurry, and Cow Town went crazy.

It was history. It was a coronation.

Bow before Scout Smith, Destroyer of Worlds. And be glad she’s on our side.

As she hit home plate, she was mobbed by her teammates, who thumped on her, hugged her, and screamed in her ears until all she could do was stagger away, grin plastered from ear to ear.

Caught up in the celebration, CHS coach Kevin McGranahan was a man sitting on cloud nine.

“High school careers are made of nights like this and every girl in uniform contributed to this win,” he said. “Great team win!

“Wolves never say die!!”

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