The Falcon volleyball team is well on their way to being a top contender in the Cascade Conference.
They’ve just got some work to do before they get there.
Behind the towering figures of Archbishop Murphy’s hitters, the Wildcats were able to sweep the Falcons on their home court, 25-22, 25-17, 25-16.
The Falcons dropped to 2-2 overall and 1-2 in league. The Wildcats remain undefeated, 4-0 overall.
“I think we made a lot of unforced errors,” said Falcons head coach Mandy Jones. “They’ve got two good outside hitters and we had a hard time stopping them. We made a lot of mental notes and we’re going to work on that defense next time we see them.”
The Falcons hung with the Wildcats in the first set, trading points until an 18-18 tie late into the set.
The Wildcats jumped ahead by three thanks to Falcon errors, but South Whidbey closed the gap with kills by junior right side hitter Kacie Hanson and senior outside hitter Maryn Patterson.
Trailing 22-21, junior middle hitter Megan Drake and senior setter Katherine Read combined to block an attempted Wildcats kill to tie the set at 22.
But a few more errors by the Falcons gave the Wildcats the victory in the opening set.
The Falcons fared worse in the second set. Archbishop Murphy jumped to a 12-5 lead before South Whidbey strung together six consecutive points behind the strong serves of junior outside hitter Emily Turpin.
But the Wildcats followed with a streak of their own, jumping ahead 20-13, before the Falcons were able to muster a rally.
The Wildcats’ ability to gain ground and hold their leads took a little bit out of the Falcons’ step.
“I think in the second set when they got a couple of those bigger leads, that kind of took a little bit of our confidence away,” Drake said.
South Whidbey hung neck-and-neck with the Wildcats in the third set.
The Falcons led 10-8 when their hold over the Wildcats began to slip. Archbishop rallied off a 7-2 run over South Whidbey to jump ahead 15-12.
The Wildcats, however, weren’t capitalizing off Falcon errors.
Archbishop Murphy’s top hitters, Sam Hayward and Jaime Cymbaluk, furthered their lead with powerful kills into the Falcons defense.
Jones estimated that the Wildcats’ tallest player was 6-2. The Falcons tallest player, Drake, is 5-10.
“It’s hard — we’re not a tall team,” Jones said. “It’s hard when you come across hitters who are tall and can hit straight down. It takes a lot of skill to get up and surround that ball. But they did a really good job.”
The Wildcats were able to keep the pressure on and eventually forced errors by the Falcons, which ultimately led to the defeat.
Patterson led the Falcons with six kills and seven digs.
“I’m pretty disappointed,” Patterson said. “We made quite a few errors and I think that’s what got to us mentally. I think we covered our blocks pretty well. We could have covered a lot tighter, but I think our covering was really good.”
“They’re good at picking on people who haven’t dug them up and they’re good at finding the holes and knowing where to hit,” she added.
Drake recorded five kills and four blocks, while Read finished with 19 assists and nine digs.
The Falcons will look to rebound against King’s when they play on the road on Sept. 22.
“This is conference play. Archbishop, King’s, and Cedar Park Christian — we’ve got to learn how to play against those guys,” Jones said. “And I think if we do that and we can come up with a few strategies, we’ll be right in there with them. Like I tell the girls, baby steps. We’ll get there.”