KIRKLAND — It was Winston Churchill who once said, “Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.”
Had Sir Winston sat courtside last Thursday night, puffing on an after-dinner cigar, he would’ve lifted a glass of brandy in salute to the Lady Falcons.
Yes, Woodinville lost to Lake Washington. And yes, their record fell to 0-2 in Kingco 4A and 1-4 overall. And it’s true that one never wants to cheer for moral victories. As another great man, Arizona State football coach Herm Edwards, once said, “You play to win the game!”
But taking a close look at Woodinville revealed attrition on a grand scale. Senior captain Zoe Friedman was lost a couple of weeks ago to a torn ACL. Marissa Till was out due to a severe shoulder injury. Senior Olivia Ames was out with an illness, and two other kids played with the flu. A roster that was already thin had become decimated.
Woodinville took to the court with no seniors and three JV players called up to play significant minutes. Lake Washington, on the other hand, boasted a 5-1 record and a massive size advantage.
It was no surprise when Lake Washington promptly won the first two sets. The Lady Kangs looked primed to sweep the visitors from Woodinville right out of the gym.
But something happened on the Woodinville bench. Head coach Andrea “Hammer” Roelen gathered her team and unleashed a fiery speech that could be heard from the other side of the gym.
“She definitely is very intense,” Woodinville’s Ellie Nelson said. “She loves competition. Her intensity transfers to us. Her being amped up gets us amped up.”
The patchwork group of Falcons went back out onto the court and won the third set 25-20. Then they took the fourth set 25-22. Suddenly, the match was tied 2-2. Lake Washington players looked alarmed. Woodinville players looked joyous.
“Our team has been through a lot by losing so many of our players,” Nelson said. "We wanted to prove to ourselves that we could adapt and play hard.”
In the fifth and deciding set, Woodinville led 12-11. But Lake Washington won the final four points to triumph 15-12.
Afterward, Coach Roelen chomped on crackers as she talked with a reporter.
“These kids just won’t quit!” she said. “They keep working. We’re making creative lineup changes to see what will work. Then they start believing in a momentum shift, things start clicking... We’re doing such a good job with such a young group that has been thrown together. Especially being down 2-0. You could just roll over and die and give it away. But they refused to go away. They kept battling. Nothing makes me prouder!”
Coach Roelen singled out Olivia Delach and Cora Lundquist for their performances.
“Olivia was swinging from the back row, major servicing sequences that got us back into some of those latter sets. I was really proud of her. Cora Lundquist, our setter, she is setting all the way around. She is playing every single ball of every single set of the entire match. The passing wasn’t that great in the beginning, and she worked really hard to get the hitter hittable balls. Bless her heart.”
Roelen also sang the praises of the JV enlistments.
“We also had Maiya Roelen, Maia Riseland and Molly Collins who came up from JV,” she said. “They are playing at a level that wasn’t expected. I asked them to do this and they said yes. And that takes guts and a lot of heart!
“I’m encouraged by this great performance,” she added. “I hope they really see that they can do great things. They can be a great team no matter who is on the court.”