Falcons top Cougars 3-1 — Young Lakewood signs of improvement more evident than the score

LAKEWOOD — While the result of Lakewood's Oct. 6 match against South Whidbey was the same as roughly a month ago — a Falcons victory — the level of play is giving many Cougar fans hope for the second half of the season.

Coach Tasha Kryger's young Lakewood (3-5) squad forced South Whidbey to work for the 3-1 Cascade Conference win, which is different from the sweep during the season opening match.

"We were much more improved than the last time we played them," Kryger said of her team that has just one senior. "I'm proud of the way the girls kept fighting. There were just a couple of letdowns and we could have taken that one."

The Falcons (5-3) took advantage of a number of Cougar communication problems early on to win the first game 25-18 behind a 12-3 run that made the score 17-8.

In the second game, however, Lakewood showed its potential when remaining focused with a 25-23 win that stemmed from excellent net play by junior Jordan Wessell and Brittany Parmentier. The two split duties marking South Whidbey's top threat, hitter Allison Wood.

"She (Wood) was a great hitter so kudos to Jordan and Brittany for slowing her down," Kryger said. "Brittany is just a sophomore, but she's already starting to be a go-to hitter."

The Cougars fought off a number of Falcon runs in game two, but no point was more crucial than a tip from junior Hayley Liebel that evened the score at 16-16. South Whidbey would take a point lead twice, but was quickly overturned by a determined Lakewood defense.

"The defense has been playing great, getting the ball to Sam to get to our hitters," Kryger said, referring to setter Samantha Adams, who recorded 24 assists. "But the most important thing we need to look at is maintaining that concentration and staying together the whole match. We have seen what we're capable of when we do that."

The third (25-19) and fourth games (25-16) showcased similar Lakewood problems, although they were not without inspiration, such as the serving of Wessell who, on three occasions, initiated 5-0 Cougar runs.

Nevertheless, the story of the match was improvement, and Kryger said that could be seen among all her players, but in particular, libero Allie Hernandez.

"We just put her in there this year and she's doing a great job," Kryger said of her specialists' 12 digs. "Tonight she was fearless and played with the heart of a Cougar."

Leading Lakewood in kills was Liebel, who finished with 10 points. In a notable performance by South Whidbey, Linden Firethorne had 12 kills and 11 blocks.

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