On a rainy Monday night near downtown Issaquah, with a small but rowdy crowd rooting against them, Woodinville opened its Kingco season by losing to the hometown Eagles, 3-1.
The Falcons fell behind quickly, dropping the first two sets before rallying to win the third, 25-18.
They ultimately dropped the fourth set and the match, to fall to 0-1 in league play. But Falcons head coach Michael Mills felt good about what he saw.
"It was a gut check and (our message was) let’s play with some emotion and have some pride with what we’re playing for," he said. "And they stepped up. It was really nice. We didn’t give up and kept on fighting, so a lot of credit to them to come back being down two (games) like that."
Several Woodinville players displayed various strengths to this night. Senior Courtney Smith had tremendous power near the net and sophomore Kelcie Urstad showed an adept ability to serve effectively.
Gabriella Whalen, a freshman, exuded confidence and above average athletic ability on the court. And two players, senior Tynan Gable and junior Alex Shardelman, showed grit and grace in their repeated efforts to keep the ball in play and set up their teammates nicely for return shots.
"We’ve been working really hard on teamwork, it’s been a really big thing," Gable said. "Playing as a team and trusting each other. We struggled early tonight — you could tell. The floor was quiet. The bench was quiet. No one was calling their hits on the floor. Talking comes before everything. If we’re not communicating, we can’t get anything done."
"And a huge thing is getting our energy up," Shardleman added. "Because when our energy is down we play so much worse than we can. But when our energy is up, then we work together a lot better."
When asked about his team’s prospects this season, Coach Mills sounded optimistic.
"We have really good athletes," he said. "I think that we’re starting to figure out how to play together as a team. Each week we’re getting a little closer. This is the first week of Kingco, so I think we’ll get it figured out."
At the time of this writing, Woodinville next had a home match on September 25th vs. Skyline, before returning to the road for a game against Inglemoor September 30th.