The Falcons took another big step toward reclaiming their cohesiveness as a volleyball team after beating Sultan in three sets, 25-15, 25-13, 25-9, on Thursday night at South Whidbey High School.
After dropping a pair of matches to the Cascade Conference’s top teams in Archbishop Murphy and King’s in mid-September, at which time the Falcons say they played less like a team, South Whidbey has won its last three matches in convincing fashion.
Thursday night was no exception. The Falcons are currently fourth place in the league standings – behind Cedar Park Christian, King’s, and Archbishop Murphy – at 4-3 overall and 3-3 in league.
“I think our chemistry is slowly getting back together because we kind of went down a bit,” said Falcon senior setter Katherine Read.
Read and Falcon head coach Mandy Jones both said the team’s communication was a primary factor in Thursday’s night league win.
Falcon junior middle hitter Megan Drake led South Whidbey with 17 kills, while Read finished with 40 assists and 11 digs. Sophomore outsider hitter Kolby Heggenes was second on the team in kills with 12, while also adding six digs.
“That was just fun,” Heggenes said. “It’s a good confidence-builder just to go out and be able to crush it.”
South Whidbey jumped out to an 8-3 lead in the first set before allowing Sultan to close the gap to 10-7. Following kills and unforced errors by both teams, Read helped increase the Falcons’ lead to 19-12 after digging the ball, stopping it from hitting the court. South Whidbey kept the pressure on and eventually claimed the set.
The first set started slower than the Falcons would have preferred, though, that’s become somewhat of a routine for the team and is something they’re working to improve, Jones said.
Read echoed her coach’s sentiments and added that as the match progressed, so did the Falcons’ cohesion on offense.
“The more repetition, the easier it got,” Read said. “We kept looking for the holes and kept swinging away. We played well, all around.”
The start of the second set was tightly contested by the Turks, who matched the Falcons point for point until South Whidbey was able to go ahead by six, leading 13-7.
That’s when the Falcons put on the afterburners.
Kills by Drake and senior outside hitter Maryn Patterson helped further extend the Falcons’ lead. Heggenes put the finishing touches on the set with consecutive kills for the win.
The third set proved to be of little trouble for the Falcons.
Drake found pay dirt more than the Turks could handle, landing eight of her 17 kills during the final set. Junior Aria Ludtke and freshman Emma Leggett also contributed a pair of kills each, while senior Marina Alber landed consecutive aces to put the Falcons up, 15-5.
Leggett ended the match on an ace near the front line of the Turks defense.
“I think they knew that this was a big win,” Jones said. “We needed to win this because of districts. They played their game and they played hard throughout all three sets. That right there will instill a lot of confidence in every player, because just about every player played tonight.”
The Falcons have a tough road ahead of them. South Whidbey will play the league’s top team in Cedar Park Christian at 7 p.m. on Tuesday at home, followed by another home match against Granite Falls on Thursday. Then, they’ll face Archbishop Murphy on Oct. 13 and King’s on Oct. 15.
The Falcons hoped that Thursday night was another step in leaving behind the shell of a team that lost consecutive matches to the league’s top squads.
“Everyone brought something to the court that cooperated with the win, and we did awesome,” Read said. “It’s definitely a big confidence boost.”