South Whidbey head volleyball coach Mandy Jones tried to calm her team down.
The Falcons had just taken the first two sets from top-ranked Cedar Park Christian and were on the verge of upsetting the Eagles. Jones reiterated to her team that they needed to stay humble and play the match as if it were 0-0.
But the message fell on deaf ears.
It wasn’t that the Falcons weren’t listening. They just couldn’t really hear her.
“They’re excited. And I get it,” Jones said. “I was excited too and I was trying to hold in my emotions.”
After capitalizing on the Eagles’ unforced errors with scrappy defense and a strong offensive output, the Falcons were unable to hold their lead and lost the match, 3-2, on Oct. 6 at South Whidbey High School.
“That was my number one goal this season to at least take one set from them, and taking two felt really, really fulfilling,” said Falcon senior Maryn Patterson.
Despite the loss, the Falcons’ performance showed a team that has steadily improved throughout the season. The Falcons had 12 kills in the first set, which they won 25-17.
When the Falcons lost to the Eagles 3-0 on Sept. 10, they had a total of 16 kills.
“I feel like we keep progressing upward and onward,” Jones said. “That’s what every coach wants for their team. We don’t want to do the opposite.”
South Whidbey didn’t miss a beat in the second set, totaling eight kills and five aces in the 25-16 victory.
It was in the third set when things fell apart.
Cedar Park Christian showed its top-ranked caliber when they poured on kill after kill, while the Falcons struggled to hold back the Eagles’ top hitter, Samantha Drechsel.
Drechsel is the daughter of Eagles head coach Marni Drechsel, who suffered a sudden cardiac arrest during the team’s match against Archbishop Murphy in September. Drechsel had to be revived in the Eagles’ gymnasium and transported to the hospital. According to the Everett Herald, Drechsel spent four days in the hospital and is now recovering at home.
The Falcons showed their support for the coach and program by wearing gold ribbons in their hair, giving out flowers, and also displaying blue and gold balloons over the visitor’s bench.
“That’s been weighing really heavy on our hearts and on all of the teams in our league and we wanted to just kind of honor her when they were here with something special,” Jones said. “We just wanted to let them know that we were thinking about them and know that it just must be so difficult.”
South Whidbey finds itself in the middle of the pack after passing the midpoint of the season.
The Falcons are currently 5-4 overall and 4-4 in the Cascade Conference after beating Granite Falls, 3-0, on Oct. 8.
The Eagles were undefeated at 7-0 and the league’s top team following the match, but after falling to Archbishop Murphy on Oct. 12, Cedar Park Christian is now in a three-way tie for first place with the Wildcats and King’s.
South Whidbey is in fourth place.
“It was just so uplifting to see that they were shocked that we brought this all to the court,” said Falcon senior Katherine Read.
The Falcons take on King’s Thursday night and will honor South Whidbey player Megan Miller’s mother, who won her battle against cancer, as part of Breast Cancer Awareness night.