In the end, it wasn’t South Whidbey’s opponents who defeated them at the Class 1A state volleyball championships.
It was the Falcons who beat themselves.
South Whidbey went two-and-out at the Yakima Valley Sun Dome after competing in the tournament for just the second time in four years. The Falcons’ losses to La Center and Cascade Christian on Friday, Nov. 11 both went to four sets and were matches South Whidbey should have won, head coach Mandy Jones said.
“We had really great chances at beating both teams we played,” Jones said. “They just didn’t show up to play, I think.”
She keeps things in perspective though.
“It was disheartening. It was sad for me, for the seniors and sad for the team really. Then I look back at all the things we did accomplish in the season.”
South Whidbey senior outside hitter Kacie Hanson agreed with her coach’s assessment.
“We just did not play well,” Hanson said. “It’s hard to play in there. It’s loud.”
Jones said their pitfalls ranged from lackluster play after the serve and the chaotic atmosphere of the Sun Dome to the rattled nerves that come with competing at state.
Senior middle hitter Megan Drake felt the team was overexcited. She added that the team’s achievement of making as far as it did trumped any negative feelings about the tournament.
“I think we were just so excited and the excitement got the better of us,” Drake said. “It took too long for us to control that and settle in to our normal routine on the court.”
The Falcons nearly beat La Center in the opening round. South Whidbey lost the first set 25-18, but flipped the outcome in a 25-18 second set victory. The Falcons were aided by the attack of outside hitters Kacie Hanson and Emma Leggett and junior setter Bailey Todd, who was playing the role of quarterback.
“If I could give an MVP award out, I would give it to her [Todd],” Jones said. “She worked her butt off getting passes out to the offense.”
But the Falcons lost the next two sets by two-point margins and dropped to consolations, where they faced Cascade Christian in a loser-out match.
“They just kind of rolled over from the La Center match to Cascade Christian,” Jones said. “They definitely worked harder, but I felt like the other team was playing more to win then we were. We were just going through the motions.”
The Falcons lost the first two sets 25-18 and 25-19 then claimed the third set, 25-16. They lost 25-21 in the fourth set.
South Whidbey finished 13-9 overall and 6-6 in the Cascade Conference.
Just a week prior, the Falcons defeated Cedar Park Christian for the first time since the Eagles joined the league in 2014. The Eagles placed fifth at the state tournament.
Fifth was about where Jones hoped the Falcons would finish.
“That could have been us,” Jones said.
Though they won’t be getting medals for it, five Falcon players were all-Cascade Conference.
Hanson was named to the first-team, while Leggett, Drake, and junior outside hitter Kolby Heggenes made second-team. Todd was honorable mention.
Jones and Cedar Park Christian’s Marni Drechsel were also named co-coaches of the year by their peers in the league.