LANGLEY — South Whidbey had its chances. The Falcon volleyball team just didn’t seize any of them.
Against a tall and talented Cedarcrest Red Wolves squad, South Whidbey lost 3-1 in the Falcons’ first home match. It was a disappointing home opener for the Falcons, who have not started a season 0-2 since head coach Mandy Jones took over five years ago.
“We have a lot of new girls on varsity, and that’s part of it. It’s just the second game of the season and we’re figuring out our lineup,” said Falcon senior hitter Aly Chapman.
The first two sets were battles. Cedarcrest claimed the first set 25-20, and South Whidbey rallied for the second set, 26-24.
“Cedarcrest did great,” Jones said. “They were working hard and they played well. They never got down.”
Then someone might as well have called in Houdini, because all that Falcon momentum and excitement vanished — poof, gone. South Whidbey’s players and head coach were left scrambling for answers like so many errant passes in those final two sets, 25-16 and 25-9 losses.
“We didn’t get back to our basics,” said Falcon senior middle Hannah Calderwood. “We didn’t talk, we didn’t communicate. We were kind of ahead of ourselves. We needed to concentrate more, we needed to want it more.”
Cedarcrest’s senior co-captains and tall frontline controlled the net. Any errant passes that lobbed near the net went right back to the Falcons, mainly behind Red Wolves senior hitter Kailyn Campbell who tallied 15 kills. Annabella Labate, Cedarcrest’s sophomore setter, added 23 assists and sophomore hitter Sabrina Thomas aided with 13 digs.
Spotty defense and misplaced passes kept the Falcon offense from finding a rhythm. South Whidbey struggled to help itself, even when Cedarcrest hit soft lob passes that lofted over the net, which Jones called easy plays, South Whidbey’s players hit into the net or missed the set and lofted the ball back to Cedarcrest. In the third set, South Whidbey scratched from a 16-10 deficit to 18-14, but Campbell ended it with a crosscourt kill.
The errors compounded as the Falcons fell silent in the third and fourth sets, leading to a couple of near collisions in the backcourt and an actual run-in between two players that led to a Cedarcrest point.
Cedarcrest ran away with the third set 25-16. South Whidbey lost its fight in the fourth set, as the Falcons fell silent, with multiple players attempting to pass the serve or watching an easy tip drop.
“I think they got tired,” Jones said. “We had some big rallies, and we wouldn’t win the big rallies. We have to win those rallies. And when did win those rallies, we would miss our serves.”
South Whidbey’s statistics leaders were junior hitter Mackenzie Hezel with 10 kills and nine digs, sophomore hitter Anne Madsen with eight kills and three blocks, Calderwood with four kills and three blocks, Chapman with four kills and three aces, junior libero Amelia Weeks with 12 digs and two aces and junior setter Meagan Longdon with 25 assists, six digs and two kills.
South Whidbey rebounded and won its road match Thursday against Coupeville. The Falcons won 25-19, 25-14 and 25-17. Chapman tallied nine kills, Madsen added six kills, four aces and two blocks and Longdon added 16 assists and six digs. Falcon junior Alexa Hess set 11 assists.