Had South Whidbey volleyball lost to Lakewood on Senior Night on Oct. 21, senior Katherine Read said she would have been tempted to fail all her classes and return for another chance to win the final home match of the season.
Though it was a joke, the Falcons nonetheless pulled out a victory.
South Whidbey’s senior girls capped off their final performance in front of their home crowd by beating the Cougars, 3-1 in a Cascade Conference matchup.
The Falcons showed their end-of-season form by not allowing the Cougars’ 25-22 opening set victory to discourage them.
Instead, South Whidbey was quick to defend its territory and battled Lakewood closely in the second set to turn momentum back in its favor.
The Falcons’ strong offensive output, combined with the Cougars’ struggles with unforced errors allowed South Whidbey to take a 19-12 lead late in the set. Lakewood salvaged a few more points as the set drew to an end but were unable to close the gap as South Whidbey won the second set, 25-19.
The third and fourth sets were far less contested. South Whidbey handily won 25-11 and 25-16 to close out the match.
The victory gave the Falcons their seventh Cascade Conference win of the season.
“We picked ourselves up very well,” said senior outside hitter Maryn Patterson. “We started off a little bit rough and were kind of playing as individuals more than as a team, and I think after that first set, we realized that and came together and just fought together.”
Though the night was dedicated to the fourth-year players, it was the juniors who led statistically. Falcon middle hitter Megan Drake had 12 kills and four blocks, while right-side hitter Kacie Hanson added nine kills and 31 digs.
Read contributed a match-high 39 assists along with one ace and 10 digs.
The night began with pre-game ceremonies to honor the five South Whidbey seniors. Seniors Patterson, Read, Marina Alber, Sara Bryant, Morgan Davis, and Patterson gathered on the court with their parents and teammates.
As quick as the moment had arrived for seniors, it passed.
Like many seniors before them, Senior Night tends to impact players in different ways.
“It’s really surreal,” Patterson said. “I feel like it will hit me a few months from now.”
The night felt like a let down more than anything for Read.
“I feel like it didn’t even happen,” Read said. “Freshman, sophomore, junior year, I thought, ‘Oh, I’m going to ball my eyes out.’ And then the time came, and I felt nothing. I didn’t feel any tears or a quivering lip.”
Alber didn’t hide her emotions as a few tears found their way onto her cheeks while standing with her fellow seniors.
“I balled my eyes out,” Alber said.
There’s good reason to be weary of the season’s end.
Though the Falcons didn’t pull out a signature win over one of the league’s top three teams — Archbishop Murphy, King’s, and Cedar Park Christian — this season, like they had when they beat King’s in five sets in 2014, they found success elsewhere.
The Falcons’ biggest 2015 moment came when they won their home tournament, the South Whidbey Invitational, for the first time in school history on Sept. 12.
They also narrowly missed a chance to upset top-five-ranked in Class 1A Cedar Park Christian in five sets on Oct. 6.
Head volleyball coach Mandy Jones has called the group of girls one of the tightest-knit teams she’s coached.
“They’re awesome. I love them and I’m going to miss them very much,” Jones said. “They’re a good group of girls. Every single one of them has a different personality, they’re all very much individuals and they’re all fun and unique in their own way. It’s going to be sad without them.”
After Monday night’s win over Sultan, the Falcons closed out the regular season 9-6 overall and 8-6 in league.
The Falcons will gear up for the Class 1A District 1 tournament on Oct. 28-31 at Cedar Park Christian to determine which team will advance to the bi-district tournament, which is the state-qualifying round.
“We’re just focusing on getting through districts right now because two years ago we went to state and then last year we lost out in districts,” Patterson said. “I think the main focus right now is districts and then if we move on, we’ll focus on bi-districts and then what’s next. We’re taking it game-by-game.”