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Volleyball team almost takes one, falls at district; Wolverines finish season 3-9 league, 3-13 overall
Buoyed by a partisan crowd, a Friday Harbor volleyball hobbled by injuries nearly pulled off a stunner in its regular-season finale Oct. 28 in Turnbull Gym.
Leading 25-24 in the opening game, the Wolverines needed just one point to put the Northwest 1A/2B League’s second-place team on the ropes and themselves in the drivers’ seat.
But Darrington (10-1) had a different outcome in mind. The Loggers tallied the next three points to clinch the opener and then demonstrated why, with exception of La Conner, they’ve run the table against the rest of the league by running away with the next two games and posting a sweep.
For the Wolverines, it was an uphill battle from the start. Senior Meaghan McCormick, a four-year veteran, was sidelined by an ankle injury and unable to compete in what would have been a farewell performance before the home crowd. Junior Kayla Short, bothered by an ankle injury as well, was forced to take a seat midway through the match.
Sophomore Kelsey Barnes led the charge in the opener with a series of booming blocks, a couple of kills and a well-timed tip or two that dropped just over the net and onto the Loggers side of the court. But the Wolverines patchwork lineup couldn’t contain the Loggers’ big guns, 6-foot sophomore Hailey Wales and fellow sophomore Caresse Baker, at the net. After squeaking out the opening game Darrington owned the final two.
The Loggers prevailed 27-25, 25-16, 25-15.
Friday Harbor fell to 3-9 in league and 3-12 overall.
With a bouquet of flowers in hand, McCormick held back tears at the conclusion of the match. She and fellow senior Kelsie Carlton, also a four-year veteran, drew an ovation from the crowd and a steady flow of hugs from teammates, family and friends.
“This year I really realized that high school sports mean a lot,” McCormick said. “You start friendships with people that you know you’re always going to remember. It’s been a lot of fun.”
The outcome against Darrington proved a fitting end to a season of near misses in league competition. The Wolverines forced three foes into five-game matches but came up short in all three.
Carlton said that a win in the finale at home would have been nice. But one defeat won’t overshadow four years of building friendships and untold hours of camaraderie on and off the court, she said.
“It’s definitely sad,” Carlton said. “But I’m so proud of my teammates. We’ve made a lot of progress and gotten a lot better this year. Yeah, it would’ve been nice to win.”
Wins may have been frustratingly scarce in the regular season. But Head Coach Travis Mager believes the Wolverines can to do some damage in post-season play, noting they took a game from Lynden Christian when the two teams met earlier this season.
Still, with the end of the season in sight, Mager said the departure of Carlton and McCormick will be a significant blow to the program and a personal loss as well.
“They’ve been the backbone of this program for four years,” he said. “They’re both tremendous athletes and you couldn’t ask for two better leaders on the team. It’s hard to let two players like that go.”
Lynden Christian 3
Friday Harbor 0
The Wolverines were ousted from the playoffs after being swept in three-straight games by Lynden Christian in the opening round of post-season play Saturday at Coupeville.
The Lyncs, which also defeated Nooksack Valley at the regional tournament, prevailed over the Wolverines by scores of 25-4, 25-11 and 25-3, and, along with Coupeville, advanced into the second-round of 1A regional playoff competition.
King's, which eliminated Meridian in Saturday’s post-season opener, defeated Coupeville in the championship match to clinch the region’s top seed and earn an automatic berth at the 1A state tournament.
With the loss, the Wolverines ended the season with a 3-9 record in Northwest 1A/2B League play and 3-13 overall.