FALL SPORTS PREVIEW: At the net, Falcons are rising

Tall, trained and in shape, girls are setting their sights on the state meet

  • Saturday, September 6, 2003 6:00pm
  • Sports

Taking a set from fellow senior Brianna Hussey

It’s been a long time since a South Whidbey volleyball team has seemed so together.

The six seniors who make up the Falcon varsity starting lineup this season look, somehow, like they belong on the same side of the net more than any other recent team. They’re tall, with most over 5 feet, 9 inches, and coordinated in how they play the ball. Having played together through most of their four years in the high school program — only outside hitter Katy McGillen and setter Brianna Hussey moved up to the varsity team ahead of their senior classmates — they hardly ever yell out “Mine! Mine! Mine!” on an incoming serve: They know who is going to get it.

“Togetherness will lead us wherever we want to go,” said Hussey during a recent preseason practice. “We know what each other can do.”

So where do they want to go? After being aced out of the state tournament for the past four years, the Falcons want to go back to Yakima this year to prove that the team’s dominance there throughout the 1990s was not a fluke.

This is not to say the team has been unsuccessful in recent years. In 2001, the Falcons were 8-6 overall, and 14-13 in 2002. But at 4-4 both years in the North Cascades Conference, the varsity teammates and their coach, Tim Durbin, agree there is room for improvement. A top-three finish in the NCC and a credible march through this season’s district tournament is the expectation between the players and their coach.

“We’ll be right there,” Durbin said.

But it won’t be easy. Lynden Christian, the NCC champion in 2002, placed fourth at the state 2A meet last year. Other NCC teams were close behind, with Meridian taking fifth and Nooksack Valley seventh.

To get to where those teams have been, the Falcons have been doing as much off-season practice as possible. Though most of the players on the starting lineup spend the months between November and August participating in other sports, they did get together for club play through last winter’s basketball season, and played regularly at open gyms throughout the summer. Durbin said the payoff has been a team that needs little conditioning in the preseason.

“They’re in good shape,” he said.

While the team lost Lucy Daumen, Jenny Murphy, Mary Murphy and Julie Robinson to graduation, all the holes in the lineup were easily filled. Hussey, a .316 killer last season on top of her team-leading 313 assists, will do setting duties for the third year in a row. Bronwyn Russell is back at the right side hitting position, while Liz Norris and Jordan Tobler do middle hitting duties. McGillen, who led the team with 29 blocks last year, will be an outside hitter with Nici Eaton, the teams leading ace server.

Up from last years junior varsity team to give the Falcon varsity a bench are Amy Brown, Sara Hezel and Chelsea Miller.

If the Falcons do make it to state, it will be their first trip in Durbin’s four years as head coach. It will take a combination of wins against the top teams in the NCC, and near-perfect play against the more mortal teams in the conference — Sultan, Granite Falls, Blaine, Mount Baker and Lakewood.

And, said Liz Norris, staying healthy is a must.

“We’re all healthy,” she said. “No turned ankles yet.”

The Falcons start their season Tuesday with a road game against Edmonds-Woodway. They open their home season on Wednesday in Erikson Gymnasium against Kings.

More in Sports

Falcons start league play with win / Boys basketball

Looking to collect its second consecutive league title, the South Whidbey High… Continue reading

Good start not enough as Falcons fall to Coupeville / Girls basketball

Unable to sustain its early momentum, the South Whidbey High School girls… Continue reading

Bush stops Falcons / Girls basketball

After showing improvement the night before, the South Whidbey High School girls… Continue reading

11 Falcons place at BC / Wrestling

Eleven Falcons placed in the top six and the South Whidbey High… Continue reading

South Whidbey picks up pair of wins / Boys basketball

Two wins over the weekend helped the South Whidbey High School boys… Continue reading

Oak Harbor takes down South Whidbey / Girls basketball

The Oak Harbor High School girls basketball team blitzed South Whidbey in… Continue reading

Cubs run by South Whidbey / Girls basketball

As the game progressed, the South Whidbey High School girls basketball team… Continue reading

Falcon rally falls 1 point short / Boys basketball

The South Whidbey High School boys basketball team couldn’t quite pull off… Continue reading

Swegler Richmond qualifies for national meet / Junior Olympics cross country

South Whidbey High School’s Kaia Swegler Richmond qualified for the national United… Continue reading

Most Read