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Coupeville’s Emma Smith (left) and Ashley Menges celebrate a club volleyball tourney title. (Konni Smith photo)

Whidbey Volleyball Club U18 players call for their teammates to “pour it on.” (Charlotte Young photo)

Maya Toomey-Stout (3), Hannah Davidson (4), Emma Smith (13), Menges (14), Zoe Trujillo (7) and Scout Smith (2) claim Cow Town as home. (Konni Smith photo)

Not even the food police can slow them down.

Despite being assessed a 13-point(!) penalty for a player eating an apple in the Evergreen State College gym Saturday, the Whidbey Volleyball Club U18 squad rolled to three wins in as many matches to claim 1st at a tournament.

The club team, which numbers six Coupeville players on its roster – Ashley Menges, Scout Smith, Hannah Davidson, Maya Toomey-Stout, Emma Smith, and Zoe Trujillo – came out hot and never relented.

Whidbey swept the Siva 18 Whites, overcame the penalty to edge the Northshore Juniors in three sets, then whomped on Ignite 18 to claim first in their bracket at the 60-team spiker shindig in Olympia.

“We had a few dips, but overall, played very well,” said Emma Smith. “We came out and took the first match of the morning, which very rarely happens.”

“They did awesome all around!,” said mom Konni Smith. “Hannah was rocking the net, serves were great; great team work, very impressed with all the girls!”

After making the gold bracket at their last tourney, Whidbey U18 is on a roll in the early going of the club season, which, depending on how it plays, could stretch as far as May.

As the season progresses, players and coaches will have to adapt to sometimes strange rules at the many schools they visit.

While some gyms have a stern no-food policy, none of the Wolf players or parents have witnessed such a harsh penalty be inflicted during the many years they have been involved in the sport.

Especially since we’re talking about a freakin’ piece of fruit on the sidelines, and not a meatball sub being devoured at center court.

For his part, the dad of the apple muncher is laying down the law.

“Well, my daughter is a bad apple; she will be disciplined when she gets home,” he said with a big smile. “I’m going to make her eat apple pie with no ice cream!”

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Payton Aparicio, coming to a Hall o’ Fame near you. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Maybe it was fate.

Payton Aparicio springs from a family rich in sports success, from her parents and grandparents to aunts and uncles and cousins galore.

From the Stuurmans trunk in the middle, to the Bepler and Aparicio branches folding around the base, the ol’ family tree is one of the strongest you will find in Coupeville athletics.

But, as talented as her relatives are, I’m going to go out on my own limb here and say Payton is the best the family has produced.

A soaring star in both volleyball and tennis, who could have been a basketball sensation as well if she hadn’t given up the sport after middle school, Ms. Aparicio is an extremely easy pick for induction into the Coupeville Sports Hall o’ Fame.

So, where that’s where we’re placing her today, as we swing open the doors and welcome her into our lil’ digital institution.

After this, you’ll find her at the top of the blog under the Legends tab, sharing space with dad Mitch.

Payton was somewhat deceptive as an athlete.

I know she worked hard, in practices and games, but she has a rare quality of making every action look effortless.

She was the very definition of smooth, regardless of the sport, almost catching you by surprise when you realized how much of an impact she was having.

And that impact was major.

When Aparicio was named Coupeville High School’s Female Athlete of the Year shortly before graduation last spring, it was a lifetime achievement prize in many ways.

Her senior athletic year had been beyond-solid, but when coaches voted, I am confident they were also looking back at the previous three years.

Remembering her precision, her power, and, this is huge, the manner in which she always carried herself.

Aparicio displayed a quiet confidence, rarely (if ever) appearing shaken by the magnitude of the moment.

Who knows if her brain was yelling madly and bouncing off the walls when she went to serve for a match. If so, she never let us see anything other than a serene, locked-in, spirit.

On the volleyball court, Aparicio could soar to the roof and smash with the best of them, while also being nimble enough to scrape dig after dig off the floor.

Her serving was impeccable, deadly and consistent, and she graduated with the school record for most aces in a single match.

From a freshman who blasted a ball into the rafters at South Whidbey, and got the ball to rest on a beam and never come back down (it may still be up there), to a senior who was team MVP on the first Coupeville squad to go to state in more than a decade, Aparicio was a quiet killer.

Her laser focus, mad skills, and assassin-like demeanor translated beautifully to the tennis court, as well.

From the moment they first stepped on the CHS court as freshmen, she and Sage Renninger were the #1 Wolf doubles duo, and they never, ever let anyone come close to taking their title.

Peppering foe after foe, they mixed precision shot-making with raw power, like when Aparicio pegged a rival with a match-winning shot, inflicting physical and emotional pain with one superbly-placed smash.

The duo ended their tennis, and high school careers, with a 4th place finish at the state tourney, winning three of four matches in the Eastern Washington heat.

Their only loss was a tough three-set affair against a private school duo who went on to win a second-straight title, and no one in the tourney came closer to upending the champs than Aparicio and Renninger.

The 4th place finish was the second-best in CHS tennis history, behind just Mindy Horr and Taniel Lamb’s 2nd place showing in 2005, and it’s fitting all four of those standout netters now share space in the Hall o’ Fame.

When I look back on Payton’s prep sports career, I see talent, I see commitment, I see accomplishment, I see a young woman who always put team first.

What do I see? I see one of the best to ever wear a Wolf uniform, that’s what I see.

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What do I want to see in 2019? I want to see every Coupeville athlete show the heart Alita Blouin does. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

How best to end 2018? With a story.

It’s one small moment from a year, but it says so much, without a word being spoken aloud.

To set the scene, I will say this — in the world of high school and middle school sports, nothing, and I mean NOTHING, matters as much as heart.

I’m not naive. Talent is huge. Top-level facilities, inspiring coaches, access to quality equipment, all obviously have a major impact.

Camped here in the middle of a rock, which sits in the water, quite a distance from the opportunities enjoyed by big city schools, or Richie Rich private schools, or the combination of both, provides a major hurdle for Coupeville teams and athletes.

It is what it is.

You can complain all day, or you can get working.

And that is where heart comes in.

The best athletes I have witnessed come through Cow Town, the most-successful teams, all have something in common – they do not quit, they do not stop working, and they believe, down deep in their soul, that there is absolutely, positively NO REASON they can’t be the best.

Marlene Grasser to Makana Stone, Bill Riley to Hunter Smith, heart, above all else.

And this is where we come to my year-capping story.

Over the past couple of years, I have been very impressed with the Wolf female athletes who are currently in 8th grade at Coupeville Middle School.

There is talent, desire, and heart to be found in their male counterparts, but this group, which has come up playing together, is something different.

From Maddie Georges to Gwen Gustafson to Hayley Fiedler and beyond, they have an air about them very similar to what the Coupeville High School girls of the late ’90s and early 2000’s had.

That time period is the most successful in CHS female athletic history, and I believe this current crop, especially mixed with the class or two right above and below them, is primed to make their own history.

And one moment, a small, but significant moment during warm-ups, not even in a game, has sealed the deal for me.

Of all the CMS female athletes, Alita “The Assassin” Blouin is the one, who, for me, towers above the field.

She’s not very tall, maybe, but she is quick and, this is where it gets good, every time I have seen her play volleyball or basketball, she carries herself with the look of a young woman who fully intends to beat you, and beat you badly.

Off the court, all smiles, as friendly as anyone, but on the court, she looks like she wants to rip her opponent’s knees off and feed them through a wood chipper.

To which I say, YES.

It’s about dang time a Coupeville athlete didn’t back down at the sight of a fancy uniform, time they expected to win, and win because they had put in the hard work to get there.

Which brings us to our moment.

As CMS went through warm-ups before a volleyball match this season, the 8th grade team started to run laps around the floor.

Blouin, a team captain, was out in front, serious and locked-in. No coasting for her.

At which point, one of her teammates, Lucy Tenore, who is considerably taller than Blouin and has a much-longer stride, started to try and pass her friend.

Blouin would not let it happen.

Tenore, smile growing bigger and bigger, tried a second time, then a third, while Blouin refused to give in.

Legs pumping, elbows at alert, Blouin fended off Tenore at every turn, using three steps to cover the ground Tenore covered in one, all the while with her face locked in a death mask of concentration.

Tenore, fully laughing at this point, finally relented, only to see Blouin kick it up a notch to a sprinter’s run to finish the final curve, one eye looking over her shoulder just in case anyone else wanted to get foolish.

During the match, the duo dazzled, with Blouin popping perfect set-ups for Tenore to reach up and smash. With each winner, they hugged, smacked hands and smiled.

After the match, the two hung out together in the stands, half-sprawled across each other as only teen girls can pull off, laughing and talking, the best of friends.

But the statement had been made — no one, no where, no how, is going to get past Alita Blouin, a relatively small girl with a heart the size of the universe.

I doubt very many people noticed the moment. And if they did, they might not have thought anything of it at the time.

But in that moment, everything I hope to see as a grizzled sports writer, was on display.

As we head into 2019, what do I want for Coupeville sports?

I want every single Wolf athlete, high school and middle school, to attack the day like Alita Blouin does.

Do that, and there’s greatness ahead.

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When he wasn’t walking the line, Wolf dad Brian Vick documented the CHS volleyball season with pics and video. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

The Wolf varsity, together as a team one last time at Tuesday’s season-ending awards banquet. (Jennifer Menges photo)

With all due respect to soccer, tennis, cheer, cross country and football, the fall belonged to volleyball.

The Coupeville High School spikers had the best record of any Wolf squad, went the furthest in the postseason, and, seem to be the only team with their own hype man.

Brian Vick, dad of high-flyin’ twins Willow and Raven, shot a ton of footage as the season unfolded.

Tuesday night he unveiled his magnum opus, a seven-minute tribute to the Wolf sisterhood of the traveling volleyball, at the team’s season-ending banquet.

Now, thanks to papa Vick dropping his work on YouTube, everyone in Wolf Nation can see what he put together.

And, as they watch, everyone should take it as a challenge.

We want hype videos for every CHS team going forward. Every single one, I said!

 

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Coupeville senior Ashley Menges (left) and junior Lucy Sandahl both captured Most Inspirational awards at Tuesday’s volleyball banquet. (Ema Smith photo)

Maya Toomey-Stout is a rare athlete.

“The Gazelle,” among her many, many skills, has the ability to generate an often eye-popping amount of power on the volleyball court, all while coming back down to Earth.

Hitters usually generate their court-exploding spikes moving forward, leaping into the fray, their power surging out in front.

And Toomey-Stout lashes like a wild woman when she explodes from deep on the court, propelling herself towards the net like an avenging angel.

But she also can do what most can not, which is to elevate in the air to a ridiculous height, hang there for an eternity, and then reach over her head, snagging a wayward volleyball.

When she does, Toomey-Stout rarely flicks or stabs at the ball, but instead whips her hand in a loop, generating almost as much power – and as many put-aways – when she’s seemingly helpless, as when she’s clearly attacking.

That rare ability to be a sniper in any and all circumstances has netted “The Gazelle” the shrieks of die-hard fans, as well as big props from coaches near and far.

Toomey-Stout, a junior, was a First-Team All-Conference pick this season, and Tuesday she bounded away with the varsity MVP award.

Closing out his third season at the helm of the Wolves, CHS coach Cory Whitmore (with an assist from JV guru Chris Smith) doled out awards and letters as their squads enjoyed a final banquet.

 

All-Conference:

Emma Smith (1st Team)
Scout Smith (2nd Team)
Maya Toomey-Stout (1st Team)

 

Varsity team awards:

MVP — Maya Toomey-Stout
Most Inspirational — Ashley Menges
Most Improved — Zoe Trujillo
Spirit of a Wolf — Emma Mathusek

 

JV team awards:

MVP — Raven Vick
Most Inspirational — Lucy Sandahl
Most Improved — Izzy Wells

 

Varsity letter winners:

Hannah Davidson
Emma Mathusek
Ashley Menges
Chelsea Prescott
Emma Smith
Scout Smith
Maya Toomey-Stout

 

Participation certificates:

Noelle Daigneault
Anya Leavell
Ivy Leedy
Jaimee Masters
Abby Meyers
Abby Mulholland
Lucy Sandahl
Zoe Trujillo
Kylie Van Velkinburgh
Raven Vick
Willow Vick
Maddie Vondrak
Izzy Wells
Eryn Wood

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