Fresh off its second consecutive Olympic League championship, the Coupeville High School volleyball team is now aiming to secure the Wolves’ first state tournament berth since 2004.
Coupeville will need to win one of two matches at the district tournament Saturday, Nov. 4, at Charles Wright Academy in Tacoma to secure a state slot.
The Wolves (12-2) meet the winner of Port Townsend (6-12) and Bellevue Christian (11-4) at 11 a.m. On the other side of the bracket, Charles Wright (11-4) faces the winner of Cascade Christian (8-5) and Klahowya (7-8).
Those winners will earn state berths and play for the district championship at 5 p.m. The losers meet at 3 p.m., with the winner securing third place and the final state berth.
The state tournament is Friday and Saturday, Nov. 10 and 11, at the Yakima Valley SunDome.
The Coupeville players said their success stems from the family dynamic fostered by coach Cory Whitmore.
“(Whitmore) puts an emphasis on personality traits,” Lauren Rose said. “He gave us a personality test to see where our strengths are.”
The evaluation “helps us interact better,” Hope Lodell added.
“It helps us learn to trust each other and trust that we have each other’s back,” Payton Aparicio said.
That allows each player to focus on her own job, Rose added, knowing the others will do theirs.
“We also trust that everyone is going to show up to work hard every day in practice,” Mikayla Elfrank added.
After winning the conference championship last year, the Wolves dropped both district contests and failed to advance to state.
This year’s club has improved since then, according to the players.
Coupeville lost 3-0 to Bellevue Christian earlier this season, Rose noted, but the Wolves will “surprise” them and others with how much they have grown as a team.
The expectation, the players said, is to make it to state, but the ultimate goal, win or lose, is to play “their best game,” Lodell said.
“Especially since these games could be our last,” added Aparicio.
The players also stressed the importance of their legacy.
With the success of the past two seasons, the volleyball program is “making a name for itself and future teams,” Allison Wenzel said.
“We are making our mark as a team, and no one looks by us any more,” Elfrank added.
“We talk about how the last team went to state in 2004,” Lodell said. “It will be nice to know that when people say the team went to state back in 2017, we were part of that.”
“These girls have worked so hard for years and their dedication to this program has been incredible,” Whitmore said. “We want to extend our season a little longer and attain a goal we’ve had our sights set on for a long time.
“We are peaking at the right time, playing our most cohesive game with a lot of balance. For this weekend, I’ve encouraged the girls to play for each other and showcase all that they’ve learned and worked so hard for, laying it all out there on the court.
“We need to maintain a level of consistency and aggressiveness to beat very strong teams. We’re ready to play and I look forward to being a part of the competition.”