South Whidbey volleyball overcame an off night for its best hitter and early mistakes in a crucial sweep of island rival Coupeville on Thursday.
The Falcons rallied from an early deficit in the first game and were in control the rest of the way in the 25-22, 25-18, 25-13 victory.
“Our serve, receive and passing was on and Meagan Longdon’s setting was pretty much perfect,” said junior hitter Abby Hodson.
“We played so well.”
Beating the Wolves boosts the Falcons’ position for the 1A playoffs with the only other 1A program in the Cascade Conference being the King’s Lady Knights, which defeated South Whidbey (2-1 conference; 3-1 overall) earlier this season.
Coupeville put up its best fight in the first set. The Wolves took an early lead, but Falcon senior hitter Mackenzie Hezel brought her team to a tie on stellar serving — she led the match with six aces to accompany 13 kills and nine digs.
Falcon junior hitter Anne Madsen made up for an off night with a pair of aces to stretch the lead to 18-14. She finished with 18 digs, five kills and two aces.
“She was getting caught up underneath the ball,” said Falcon head coach Mandy Jones. “Her and Meagan (Longdon) need to get on the same page.”
Coupeville rallied to trail 23-20 on back-to-back poor plays by South Whidbey, which led to Jones using a time-out to regroup her squad. It worked as the Falcons held on for the 25-23 first-set win.
A nagging issue returned for South Whidbey in that set: avoiding blockers at the net. The Falcons failed to hit around the Wolves’ front court hitters, who were able to stuff them at the net and take away the middle of the court.
“That first set, I wasn’t seeing the block at all,” said Hodson, who adjusted to the Wolves’ defense and led her team with 13 kills and seven digs. “It really helped hitting the line because they were taking away my angles.”
South Whidbey took the lead early in the second set on consecutive Hezel aces, 9-8. The Falcons held the lead from there and were able to move Hodson from the middle to the outside positions. As an outside hitter, Hodson found open court down the sidelines.
“She’s been on fire,” Jones said of Hodson. “She’s been a huge part of our offense. I had to make that adjustment.”
By the third set, South Whidbey was able to put in some reserve players after taking the biggest lead of the night at 20-13.
In earlier action Tuesday, South Whidbey won its first road game of the season against Cedarcrest. As is the Falcons’ history, they started the match slowly and dropped the first set 25-14 to the Red Wolves.
The Falcons rallied and won the next three sets on balanced scoring by its heavy hitters. Hezel led the Falcons with 21 digs and 18 kills. Madsen scored 13 kills, and Hodson recorded 11 kills. Longdon tallied 42 assists and four aces.
South Whidbey hosts an all-day exhibition tournament Saturday. Jones wanted to see her team have a faster, more aggressive start to their matches and hold service.
“It’s going to be a long day, and they’re going to be exhausted,” she said. “I want to see ourselves in the top four.”