Coupeville claims tri-district title

It was appropriate that the Coupeville Wolves volleyball team began their victory run at the Tri-District Tournament last Saturday against a team from the Emerald City League.

The 2002 season has been a long “bumpy road” trip for the Wolves in the Northwest A league. To compare them to Dorothy trekking down the yellow brick road with her friends as they attempt to ward off the dangers of the Wicked Witch and flying monkeys wouldn’t be far from what the Wolves faced to finish third in the league.

The season started with nothing but confidence. Last year the Wolves had a 10-0 run in league play, claimed second to Life Christian at the Tr-District tournament, and played one day of state ball.

Pre-season non-league play was hot, with Coupeville knocking down wins against teams like Lakewood and Forks. It appeared Coupeville was on their game and would have another high-win year, but the road got a little bumpy.

The Wolves had three tough early October losses in a row, falling 0-3 against Northwest A number two, Orcas; league number one, La Conner and defending district champs Life Christian.

During the season, Coupeville head coach Kim Meche shuffled the players to see which puzzle pieces fell into the best working order.

“We have a lot of girls on the same level, so it’s hard to find what’s the best combination of people together,” said captain and senior defensive specialist Lindsey Tucker.

Determined to get to the district tournament, and knowing it wouldn’t be as easy as last year, the Wolves tightened their focus and worked to improve their game.

Junior Vanessa Davis illustrates one aspect of that improvement in the team learning how to hit at different angles.

“We really stretched our comfort zones with hitting and made it more confusing for our opponents,” Davis said.

Coupeville finished league play with a record of 6-4, 11-5 overall, sitting third in the Northwest A.

Last Saturday, Kim Meche’s girls barely expected to beat their first opponent, Forest Ridge, the number one team in the Emerald City League. Forest Ridge came out strong, and the Wolves’ game was slow to warm-up, according to coach Meche. Despite missing seven serves in two games, Coupeville conquered the Emerald City empire, 15-9 and 15-6.

After Forest Ridge, Coupeville had the single win needed to head to state under their belts, and could have coasted through the rest of the day’s play. The players didn’t want to take that route.

“If you lose when you’re trying hard and they’re better, more power to the other team,” Davis said, “When you lose cause you’re not trying it’s ugly and not the way I wanted to go.”

Round two was a rematch against last year’s district champs, Life Christian.

“At first we didn’t play well. We had a hard time receiving serves and getting balls in,” Meche said.

Coupeville fell behind after a game one 6-15 loss. But then things got hot with kills by Amy Mouw, and senior outside hitter Kristin Gwartney going on an ace of a serving streak. Life Christian lost the next two games 16-14 and 15-5.

No one, possibly even the Coupeville girls themselves, was completely prepared to see the Wolves in the championship game, but, “This year this team has gotten great about coming back,” Davis said. “Everyone looks at us as the underdogs.”

During league play, La Conner played the Wicked Witch of the West placing Coupeville under their spell, easily dishing the Wolves a 3-0 defeat. When they met Saturday, they weren’t in Kansas no more, and the Dorothys from Coupeville were ready.

“We were more prepared, and wanted it more and let that drive our play,” Davis said of the match against La Conner.

Coupeville came “charged up” and “they were on cloud nine,” Meche said of her girls following their 15-2 game one win. The coach had to remind her girls that “this isn’t the La Conner we played during the season, so stay calm.” Coupeville calmly handed La Conner a 15-0 loss and claimed the Tri-District championship.

Stats leaders for district play included: Amy Mouw with 22 kills and 28 digs; Vanessa Davis with 14 kills, Kristin Gwartney with 10 kills, 17 aces, 30 digs; and Jessica Bolling with 9 kills, also going 25 for 27 serving.

The girls from Coupeville have been daydreaming about heading of to the Emerald City, AKA. the Washington State 1A Volleyball Tournament at the Yakima SunDome, all season.

“We’ve been doing visualization after practice, knowing it won’t be an easy trip, but with hard work it’s possible,” Tucker said.

In their first state run in the school’s history, Coupeville lost their first two games last year, but are determined to make it to day two and claim some trophy hardware this week.

“Last year we fell apart. This year we want to play to the best of our ability, and leave the tournament with no regrets at all,” Mouw said.

After the district tournament, Meche sat down the district champs and told them, “Now you know what it’s like to peak at the right time,” and one of her girls chimed back, “Meche, we’re not done peaking yet.”

The Coupeville Wolves make the final turn in their bumpy road as they face state competition Friday and Saturday.

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