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Volleyball team ninth in home tourney

"Erin Hussey and Jenny Saephan go up for a block against Cedarcrest.Matt Johnson / staff photoFalcon InvitationalTeam finishes: 1. Edmonds Woodway, 2. Chelan, 3. Woodland, 4. Omak, 5. Eastlake, 6. Shorewood, 7. Lynnwood, 8. Cedarcrest, 9. S. Whidbey, 10. Snohomish, 11. Forks, 12. Mariner, 13. Oak Harbor, 14. Anacortes, 15. Bremerton, 16. Shoreline Christian.For the first time in 19 years, South Whidbey's girl volleyball players were not tropical last weekend. But they were still hot enough to win two games and place well at their own Falcon Invitational.Crowded into South Whidbey High School's two gymnasiums with 15 other volleyball teams, the Falcons won two and lost two to finish ninth in the former Tropical Falcon Invitational Saturday. The slightly renamed tourney drew teams from the smallest and largest schools in Western Washington. Not surprisingly, one of the largest schools at the event -- Edmonds-Woodway -- took home the championship trophy.The Falcons, it seemed, could have used a different format to start the tournament. Competing in three-game matches rather than the usual five, the Falcon girls needed more playing time in their opening match against Anacortes. Tim Durbin, the team's head coach, said his girls had a slow start against the Seagulls, falling 8-15, 9-15.After that, however, nothing about the Falcons' play was slow. Senior blocker Jaimie Nelson became the inspirational center for the team, playing the entire tournament with a back injury. Placed on back row duty, she came up with plays her coach could scarcely believe.She was all over the place, Durbin said.With Nelson in back, Jenny Saephan, Melissa Poolman, Kaitlin King, and Paige Jolley filled the front line and in the middle and helped pace the Falcons to an 11-15, 15-6, 15-10 second-round win, then a close, three game loss to a powerful Omak team. Keeping South Whidbey in those games was senior captain and setter Erin Hussey. Durbin said her performance was flawless.She's a pro, Durbin said. She could set til the cows come home.In the day's final match for ninth place, the Falcons were unstoppable. They pummeled a pumped up Snohomish team, taking the contest 15-7, 15-9.Still 5-3 overall, the Falcons start official league play this week. They take on Blaine at home Thursday. The junior varsity team plays at 5:45 p.m., while the varsity plays at 7 p.m. "

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