Falcon volleyball team sweeps Cedarcrest 3-0, moves into fourth place

South Whidbey’s volleyball team took control of its fate by defeating Cedarcrest High School 3-0 on the road Tuesday night.

The win was a big step toward securing a district playoff spot for the Falcons (6-6).

The Falcons won 25-22, 25-18 and 25-21. South Whidbey head coach Mandy Jones called the games contentious and the outcome “too close.”

“We took a step closer to being locked into third place,” said junior Linden Firethorne. “It definitely boosted our confidence.”

Before the match, Firethorne and co-captains Brittany Wood and Alyssa Coupe gave the team a pep talk. They stressed the importance of the game, and told their teammates everyone needed to want to win and have fun.

“We played just well enough to beat them,” Firethorne said. “But we could’ve gotten a lot more excited.”

In the first game, Cedarcrest jumped out to a five-point lead on South Whidbey’s mental errors. Jones called for a substitution of her setters and put in junior Emily Houck.

“It changed the pace of the game,” Jones said. “They were talking more, putting the ball down.”

Houck remained in the lineup for the second and third games and finished the night with 17 assists. Jones said Cedarcrest made plenty of errors in the second game.

“We needed to get the ball on our own success and not on their errors,” Jones said.

Jones used both setters in the third game — a new scheme for the Falcons. The defense had some key digs from Lyna Nichols, Molly Rawls and Wood to win that game.

“I credit our defense for that game,” Jones said.

Wood finished with 16 digs, four kills and three aces. Rawls had 10 digs and four kills. According to Firethorne, she had an “off night” and finished with two blocks and 11 kills — a drop from consecutive 23-kill games last week.

“[Cedarcrest] was better at covering and scrappier at picking up all of our hits,” Firethorne said.

Firethorne and Jones acknowledged that the team lacked its typical excitement and energy. Both couldn’t explain the team’s absent enthusiasm.

Jones addressed the issue with the team during Wednesday’s practice and didn’t get a consensus response. Still, the Falcons found a way to win without energy.

“A win’s a win,” Jones said. “We’ll take what we can get.”

The Red Wolves (3-9) beat the Falcons 3-2 at South Whidbey High School in September. After that game, Jones took credit for some coaching errors in substitutions and lineup. Jones was pleased to avoid repeating those mistakes.

The match was a must-win for South Whidbey’s district playoff hopes.

Jones explained the importance of focus to her team after being swept 3-0 twice in the last week of September by King’s and Archbishop Murphy. Jones also told them South Whidbey is hosting the district playoffs, and emphasized how it might feel to host the playoffs and not compete in them.

Jones’ team responded and swept Granite Falls and Sultan 3-0 the next week. Then the team visited third-place Lakewood and lost 3-1, but regained momentum by defeating Coupeville 3-2 at home and blanking Cedarcrest in an away match.

On the same night, Granite Falls (5-7) lost to Coupeville (4-9), which moved South Whidbey into fourth place in the Cascade Conference.

“We have to be more excited and double the way we played against Cedarcrest to put up a fight against King’s,” Firethorne said.

Jones said she instilled a no-risk, no-reward policy in her team for Thursday’s match with King’s. The Falcons’ offense concerned Jones heading into the match with the Knights.

South Whidbey hosted undefeated King’s (11-0) for Senior Night on Thursday and finishes its season away at Archbishop Murphy High School (9-2) on Tuesday,

Oct. 26.

“We’re hoping this isn’t the last time [the seniors] play in their gym,” Jones said.

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