Lauren Rose is one of several starters returning for the defending champion Wolves. (Photo by John Fisken)

Fall prep preview/ Coupeville volleyball

After winning its first league title in 12 years, the Coupeville High School volleyball team is aiming to take the next step, qualifying for the state tournament.

The Wolves will pin their state hopes on a strong senior class, which includes letter winners Lauren Rose, Hope Lodell, Payton Aparicio, Katrina McGranahan, Mikayla Elfrank and Kyla Briscoe.

McGranahan is the reigning Olympic League Most Valuable Player, Lodell received first-team honors and Rose was honorable mention last fall. Briscoe returns after missing last year with an injury.

The seniors will be backed by junior letter winners Emma Smith and Ashley Menges and newcomer sophomore Scout Smith.

The keys to defending the league title and maintaining the new level of success are team cohesion and intensity in practice, according to Cory Whitmore, the 2016 conference Coach of the Year.

“These girls are extremely close in friendship and that trust translates on the court,” he said. “Another key would be to take each drill in practice, and each game, no matter the opponent, as a challenge to improve.

“They are very excited about their long-term goal, but I’ve impressed upon them the importance of taking it one step, one game at a time.”

Serving was a team strength last year, and the attack will by led by Lodell, who set a single-season school record with 110 aces last fall. She also already holds the school career record of 141.

Whitmore would like to see a more “consistent passing line” and “attacking consistency” this year.

“We also need to concentrate on our back row defense to fill the vacancy Valen Trujillo leaves.”

Trujillo, a first-team defender, holds almost all of Coupeville’s digs records.

A strong support system has helped push the Wolves up the ladder of success, according to Whitmore.

“I’m very lucky to work with and in such a fantastic community that cares and supports their student-athletes.

“From administration to parental support to our student managers, these young athletes are surrounded by a phenomenal support system and we are looking forward to making this community proud.”

The Wolves (11-6, 8-1 last year) get the season started when they travel to the Oak Harbor Jamboree at 9 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 2.

The next six matches are also on the road, beginning at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 5, at Mount Vernon Christian.

The first home game is with Klahowya at 4 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 26.