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   Logan Martin, seen here last season, went for seven points Monday in a hard-fought game with Stevens. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

It was a small moment, but the kind of thing likely to pay dividends down the road.

As his teammates milled around, talking to family, or headed to the door after Monday’s game, Coupeville 8th grade basketball star Hawthorne Wolfe sprinted back and forth in the CMS gym.

By the time he was done, he had run a mile, his own personal atonement for missing free throws early in the contest against visiting Stevens.

The free throws hadn’t been the deciding factor in the game, and Wolfe had led the Wolves in scoring, yet he felt the need to put in extra work, to not settle for good, but aim for better.

Off to the side, his teammate, Logan Martin, head phones back on and in his own world, lofted shot after shot, working on his mid-range game.

In a sport where success is built on and off the court, in season and out, the actions of the two young players bodes well for the future of Coupeville basketball.

So does their play on the court Monday, where the undermanned Wolves made several runs at their much-taller rivals before falling 56-46.

In the opening game of the doubleheader, the CMS 7th graders made a big jump forward offensively from their first game of the season, more than tripling their previous output in a 44-20 loss.

8th grade:

A mismatch everywhere but between the lines.

Coupeville had seven players, Stevens close to 37 (or so it seemed), and the visitors had a huge height advantage.

Yet, take away one bad stretch to open the fourth quarter, when the somewhat-gassed Wolves surrendered a 12-0 run, and the game was a knock-down brawl.

The Wolves jumped out early, snagging a 5-2 lead on a pair of free throws from Caleb Meyer and a three-ball off the fingertips of Xavier Murdy, then weathered repeated Stevens runs.

The game took on a particular rhythm — the visitors would surge, the game would start to slip away, then CMS would dig deep and rally right back.

Coupeville used a 9-4 run, with Martin scoring five, to close within a basket right before the end of the half.

Then the Wolves went cold for a bit, allowing Stevens to open the third with eight straight points, stretching its lead to 13.

Game over and … nope, here come the never-say-die guys in red and white.

Murdy tossed in another three-ball to kick off a rally, Grady Rickner closed it with a trey of his own, and, in between, Martin fed Wolfe for a layup with a superb outlet pass and Meyer put on a dribbling show, weaving between three different defenders while never losing the handle.

As Rickner’s shot tickled the net on its way down, Coupeville was back within 37-31 heading into the fourth and all the momentum had seemingly swung its way.

Except momentum is a fickle mistress.

Cue 12 straight points for the bad guys to open the fourth, and, once again, irrational joy for the Stevens fans in attendance.

But, down by 18, the Wolves still had some fight down deep in their souls.

Wolfe connected on back-to-back three-balls from the right side, Rickner tossed in a trey from the top and Meyer held his ground against the Stevens big trees, glaring down one elbow-prone rival who tried to rough up Murdy.

A final 15-7 surge cut the margin back down, and left CMS with remarkably-balanced scoring.

Murdy, Wolfe and Rickner netted 10 apiece, while Martin and Meyer had seven each. Cody Roberts added a bucket and some stellar defense, while Gabe Shaw worked hard on the boards during his time on the court.

In the end, the score wasn’t what they wanted, maybe, but the Wolves walked away, heads held high, eyes already on the rematch, which comes in the season finale Jan. 19.

Well, except for Wolfe, who was off and running, and Martin, who was putting up jumpers before the Stevens players had fully boarded their bus.

The will is strong in these ones, and it’s good to see.

7th grade:

Take a very polished, aggressive Stevens squad and throw them against a Coupeville team on which probably half the players are in their first season of basketball, and the result was as expected.

But the young Wolves, steadied by 8th grader Aiden Burdge, who jumped teams to run the point for a team in desperate need of a ball-handler, played progressively better as the game unfolded.

CMS brought the margin down in each quarter, from 14-2 to 12-6 to 11-7 to 7-5.

The Wolves even had a final three-point attempt, which, if it hadn’t skimmed out, would have given them a fourth quarter “win.”

Isaiah Bittner garnered Coupeville’s first basket, banging home a turnaround jumper in the final minute of the first quarter, and went on to score a team-high six points.

Burdge added four points, a blocked shot on which he came from behind to snuff the shot of a taller foe, and was a calming influence for the Wolves, who were under constant attack from Steven’s scrappy defenders.

Dominic Coffman (3), Alex Murdy (3), Kevin Partida (2) and Shaw (2) rounded out the offensive attack.

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   Jaelyn Crebbin and her fellow 8th grade spikers will play an intrasquad scrimmage open to fans Wednesday afternoon. (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

Anya Leavell will be there as well.

   Coupeville’s 7th grade volleyball squad waits for a ride home Monday after playing on the road at Stevens. (Kimberly Bepler photo)

Making inroads, three hits at a time.

Facing off with the biggest of big school rivals Monday, the scrappy Coupeville Middle School volleyball squads held their own with ginormous Stevens.

While the Wolves eventually fell to a behemoth which feeds 2A Port Angeles, Whidbey’s best didn’t go quietly.

The CMS 7th grade varsity claimed a set from Stevens, rallying to win their finale 25-11 after being nipped 25-21, 25-18.

Since they were playing at a different location than the 8th grade squad was, and moving quickly, Coupeville filled its waiting time by getting some floor time for its JV.

Facing off with Stevens second-string varsity players, the Wolf JV came within 25-17.

It was a strong day for a group of Coupeville spikers staring down Stevens servers who, in the words of Wolf coach Kimberly Bepler, “could rally with our high school team.”

“We were able to return about half of the serves, which is a big improvement over the last time we played them,” she said.

When Coupeville had control of the ball, it got strong play from Allie Lucero (seven consecutive serves), Brynn Schmid (6) and Alita Blouin (6).

The Wolves, who are focusing on “three hits and over,” successfully nailed that concept 21 times in the 7th grade match.

8th graders nipped:

Coupeville’s older team, which earned praise from the Stevens coach for its serving attack, fought especially hard in the opening and closing set, before succumbing 25-18, 25-9, 25-19.

The Wolves 8th graders topped out with 23 “three hits and over,” earning a root beer float party promised earlier in the season by coach Casie Greve.

Wolf vs. Wolf:

Wednesday’s scheduled trip to the wilds of Forks has been called off, due to a lack of ferries.

No one is crying. No one.

To make up for the cancellation, the Wolves will host an intrasquad scrimmage in their own gym. The players will be in uniform and the bleachers will be out and waiting for fans to plop down and watch.

The CMS 7th graders will face off at 3 PM, with the 8th graders following around 4 PM.

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Lita Woolett flies into action. (Photos by JohnPhotos.net)

   The pro-Coupeville crowd gets rowdy as the 7th grade varsity stages a stunning comeback.

   Kaielle Bepler, here ready to work her magic at the net, was on fire at the service stripe all afternoon.

   Harlee Ausman (34) keeps her eye on the ball, as Jordyn Rogers (22) backs up the play.

   Daughter of a legendary CHS volleyball coach, Jaelyn Crebbin is a fast-rising star.

CMS hoops star Kiara Contreras (right) and friends keep themselves entertained.

8th grade coach Casie Greve ponders some in-match strategy.

Noelle Daigneault fires up a deadly serve.

While the high school teams are away, the young guns rule the gym.

Coupeville Middle School spikers made their home debut Thursday, sprawling out and taking over both gyms as they faced off against Stevens.

That kept photo bug John Fisken bouncing, as he worked both sides of the aisle to capture pics from four separate matches.

As usual, he was a success, even through grumblings about a serious lack of Diet Coke.

To see everything he shot, check out the links below.

And when you make a purchase, it’s a win-win, as a portion of the proceeds fund college scholarships for Wolf student/athletes.

http://www.johnsphotos.net/Sports/2017-Coupeville-Volleyball/2017-09-28-8th-grade-vs-Stevens/

http://www.johnsphotos.net/Sports/2017-Coupeville-Volleyball/2017-09-28-7th-grade-vs-Stevens/

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   Coupeville 7th grade volleyball ace Kaielle Bepler ripped off nine straight points on her serve Thursday. (Kimberly Bepler photo)

The future has arrived.

From “The Slam Sisters” to “The Chosen One,” the next generation of Coupeville volleyball stars made their home debut Thursday afternoon, and they rocked the joint.

Facing off with ginormous Stevens, which feeds 2A Port Angeles High School, the Wolf 7th grade JV crushed their big school rivals 25-18, 25-15, while the 7th grade varsity was nipped 27-25, 25-22, 20-25 in a thriller.

Across the hall, in the high school gym, the CMS 8th grade squads had a rougher time, with the JV falling 25-17, 25-14 and the varsity losing 25-6, 25-15, 25-14.

But, with both contests going at the same time, and me being only one man, I had to choose. On this day, the 7th graders got my full attention.

So, they’re carrying this story.

Next Monday, when Forks comes to town, I’ll switch my focus to 8th grade.

For now, just know there are glossy photos from today’s match headed my way, so you will get some coverage in the next few hours … just not a whole lot of words.

And with that, we turn to the 7th graders, playing for Sarah Lyngra, who was flying solo while her coaching partner, Kimberly Bepler, was out of town.

Which means mama missed seeing her baby officially become a superstar.

Kaielle “The Chosen One” Bepler has a pedigree which is hard to match, but the youngest member of the family is already making a name for herself.

Her parents, big brother Ariah, aunts and uncles, grandpa and cousins, including current CHS volleyball supernova Payton Aparicio, are a who’s-who of Wolf greats.

Thursday, Kaielle went on a tear to rival any put up by a family member, as the Wolves fought off nine set points as she went on an ace-heavy run at the service stripe.

When Bepler ambled to the line, CMS trailed 24-16 in the first set of varsity action, and the Wolves were in trouble.

Jill Prince and Lucy Tenore had kept Coupeville close for a bit, but a Stevens player who looked like she was already a polished high school veteran was too much to handle.

Until the Wolves saved their first set point by breaking Stevens serve.

Enter Bepler and shake the rafters.

Ripping lasers and using every part of the court, she fired off nine consecutive points, turning a huge deficit into a shocking 25-24 lead.

And the miracle came within an inch of truly being a miracle.

Bepler’s 10th serve was one of only two Stevens returned, and, after a short, but intense rally, the visitors dropped a lucky winner in over the heads of the back three Wolf players.

To the dismay of all in the crowd, the falling ball bit the back-line just long enough to knot things back up at 25-25 and the full miracle was denied.

Sure enough, the assassin in the #3 Stevens uniform was next up to serve, and the highly-polished spiker, like a mini version of CHS star Hope Lodell in the way she moved and hit, served out the set.

The Wolves could have collapsed right there, and did, in fact, fall behind 7-0 at the start of the second set.

But then they reached down and found another level, with Harlee Ausman, Tenore and the ever-dangerous Bepler putting together strong runs on serve.

While they couldn’t pull out the win, the Wolves did end things strongly, capturing the third set behind note-perfect serving.

Prince, playing in front of mom Jennie, who has held CHS shot put and discus records for 27 years, delivered notice there’s another daughter of Wolf royalty ready to rock the joint.

Using her height and power to her advantage, Prince was a force all match, teaming up with Tenore to form a deadly duo.

The CMS varsity got a little something from everyone, with Gwen Gustafson, Alita Blouin, Jordyn Rogers and Brynn Schmid chipping in with hustle and spirit.

JV romps:

Say hello to the Slam Sisters.

Twin terrors Allie and Maya Lucero take after older brother Dane, a CHS football star, and hit with passion and power.

Crunching their serves with enough verve to make the volleyball scream for mercy, the dynamic duo overpowered their opponents with both their serves and their put-aways, helping the JV romp.

Maya had the shot of the day, sliding to her side, then punching the ball over her head for a winner which split the Stevens defense, which simply watched in horror as the shot sailed through a thicket of body parts to hit pay-dirt.

The Luceros got a big assist from Vivian Farris, who went on a tear at the service line, ripping off five consecutive winners to blow open the first set.

She also popped back in later with a nifty tip for a winner.

Taygin Jump added a gorgeous ace of her own, on a ball which arced over the net like a bird in flight, only to then drop like a rock, while Sofia Peters lashed a serve which burned the top of the net as it skidded across.

The Stevens player closest to Peters serve didn’t even wave at the ball. Already knowing she had been beat, she simply bowed her head in the direction of the Wolves, acknowledging complete surrender.

Cypress Socha, Hayley Fiedler, Karyme Castro and Trinity McGee rounded out the JV roster, with all seeing quality floor time.

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   Audrianna Shaw, seen here in an earlier game, scored nine points Thursday. (John Fisken photo)

Stevens is the big kid on the block, the one prone to sitting on the other kids and giving them wet willies.

A ginormous 600+ student middle school that funnels its players to 2A Port Angeles, it is easily the largest, most imposing foe dinky Coupeville Middle School plays.

So, you look for your positives where you can.

There weren’t any road wins Thursday for the Wolves, but there was improvement, and sometimes that’s enough to get you through to the next game.

The biggest bright spot came courtesy the 7th grade CMS squad, which kept things close in a 42-27 loss after being roughed up the first time these schools met a month ago.

Course, if we’re going by the book, where the Stevens score-keepers only recorded 19 of their team’s 42 points, maybe Coupeville won after all…

Back in reality, the Wolves got big games from Kiara Contreras and Audrianna Shaw, who each rattled home nine points.

Shaw was hot early, singing the nets for five in the first quarter, while Contreras, an Energizer Rabbit of a player who ratchets up her intensity as she goes, hit for six of her points in the fourth.

Anya Leavell (4), Ja’Kenya Hoskins (2) and Kylie Van Velkinburgh (1) rounded out the scoring, while Adair De Jesus, Samantha Streitler, Katelin McCormick and McKenna Somes all saw floor time.

The CMS 8th graders got roughed up a bit more, falling 51-10 to a brutally-efficient Stevens squad.

Chelsea Prescott paced the Wolves with a team-high seven, while Genna Wright knocked down a bucket and Izzy Wells swished a free throw.

Mollie Bailey, Abby Mulholland, Bella Velasco, Heidi Clinkscales and Kaitlin Painter rounded out the CMS roster.

Coupeville returns to action Monday, Mar. 20, with a road game at Sequim, then closes the season with back-to-back home games Mar. 23 (Forks) and 27 (Port Townsend).

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