Falcons sweep Turks in volleyball

Middle hitter Katie Holt elevates to send the volleyball back to Sultan in Thursday’s league victory. - Brian Kelly / The Record
Middle hitter Katie Holt elevates to send the volleyball back to Sultan in Thursday’s league victory.
— image credit: Brian Kelly / The Record

The South Whidbey Falcons beat Sultan three straight in volleyball Thursday night in Cascade Conference action.

But for some in the crowd, their hearts and minds were somewhere else.

Missing from the South Whidbey line-up was junior defensive specialist Reilly O’Sullivan. Her father, Mike O’Sullivan, died of a heart attack on Monday.

As the Falcons took to the court, they announced the match — and the rest of the season — would be dedicated to Reilly and her father. Each player wore a white armband with Reilly’s number 6 in Falcon blue.

Despite the somber start, the Falcons quickly went to business.

Falling behind 1-3, South Whidbey battled back to move in front 4-3 in the first game. Led by the aggressive play of junior Allison Wood and senior Lindsay Newman, the Falcons moved to a five-point lead at 12-8 and finished the first game, 25-17.

In the second game, South Whidbey scorched to a 10-5 lead and were soon up by 10, 17-7. The Turks began to climb back into contention, pulling to within eight, before the Falcons finished them off at 25-15.

The final game was a one-sided affair. South Whidbey jumped to a 6-0 lead before Sultan put its first point on the board. The Falcons led 12-2 before the Turks began to turn it around, closing the gap to 10 with the score 21-11.

As South Whidbey edged closer to the win at 23-12, the Falcon faithful began a “have a safe ride home” chant.

“South Whidbey outplayed us, but I thought our girls fought hard against them,” said Sultan coach Craig Bekins.

“We played one of our best matches.”

“We fought through the adversity in the first two games,” he said, though he admitted the last game was the weakest one they had played.

“South Whidbey played with some inspiration,” Bekins said, noting the tragedy. He said he hoped the girls’ faith would help them through this difficult time. “All of our hearts are with them.”

Falcon coach Mandy Jones said the Sultan match lifted the spirits of the girls.

“The girls went into the match with the 4 Cs in mind: constant movement, constant communication, celebrate and combo plays. And they did just that,” Jones said.

“They hit hard, they stayed low on defense and they worked together. Celebration and killer attitude could have been a little louder, but we are working on that.”

Jones said the team has lost two middles due to injuries and it has had an impact on the Falcons’ blocking.

“However, Kelsey Taylor has moved up from JV, and I am confident in her to work hard and become the blocker we need her to be,” she said.

Wood had 10 digs and 13 kills in the match, while Newman had

12 kills. Brittany Wood had eight digs and Kelsey Dorpat had 22 assists.

A bit of controversy surrounded the match earlier in the week against the Cedarcrest Red Wolves.

All five games were close, with the Falcons losing the first, 22-25, winning the second, 25-23, and losing the third, 19-25.

The Falcons rallied for the fourth and won 26-24.

South Whidbey fell in the fifth game, 14-16.

“The referees claimed the game would be played to 25, needless to say when Cedercrest scored their 16th point and celebrated the win, we were all very confused,” Jones said. “However, it is in the league handbook that the fifth game is played to 15.”

“Of course I appealed the game, I am not sure what will come out of it, but I had to try. The girls played a very good match and I am very proud of them for not giving up. They played with a lot of heart and fought really hard to stay in the match,” she sad.

Wood had 40 digs and 18 kills. Newman added 11 kills and 16 digs, Katie Holt had six kills and Melanie Murphy had 17 digs as the libero.

O’Sullivan is expected to return to the team next week.

“The volleyball team and coaches are very saddened by the loss of Reilly O’Sullivan’s father,” Jones said. “Our hearts, thoughts and prayers go out to Reilly and her family, and we have dedicated the rest of the season to her and her dad. We will support Reilly and rally around her in any way possible to help her through this tragic time in her life.”

With the victory over Sultan, South Whidbey improved to 5-4 in league play and overall, while Sultan fell to 2-7 in league play and overall.

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