The La Conner High volleyball team made history last week doing what it’s always done under Hall of Fame head coach Suzanne Marble. The Lady Braves used precise serving, crisp defense and strong play at the net to sweep league rivals Mount Vernon Christian and Friday Harbor in straight sets to remain unbeaten atop NW2B net standings. The convincing 25-8, 25-9, 25-13 win over the Lady Hurricanes was the 500th match victory for Marble at La Conner High, where she has guided the net program since 1993. Justine Benson fueled the La Conner attack with 35 assists to go along with nine digs, three blocks, and a pair of service aces. She was flawless on all 13 of her serves. Ellie Marble rang up 22 kills and extended rallies with 10 digs. Joanie Benson contributed five kills and three aces and went 17-of-18 from the service stripe. Morgan Herrera, who was a perfect 18-for-18 serving, also delivered three aces for the Lady Braves. Her stat line included six digs and four kills. Katie Watkins notched five kills and Rachel Cram recorded a dozen digs before a large crowd on hand in anticipation of Marble’s milestone win. Marble afterward acknowledged the special atmosphere that surrounded the contest. “There was a great crowd,” she said, “and it made for more of an exciting match. It was a memorable night for our program and me.” Other than that, and the celebration that followed, it was business as usual for the defending state champion Lady Braves. With the twin wins, La Conner improved to 4-0 in league and 8-0 overall entering this week’s action. “The girls played great,” Marble said, “and everyone on the team contributed and the girls played to their potential.” The game plan was much the same two nights later opposite Friday Harbor. La Conner routed the Lady Wolverines (0-4 in league; 3-6 overall) 25-2, 25-8, 25-12 in three efficient sets. The Lady Braves served at a 95 per cent clip, with Justine Benson, Maya Masonholder and Sarah Cook each enjoying perfect nights at the service line. Benson also finished with 20 assists and seven digs. Masonholder and Cook added five and three digs, respectively. Ellie Marble was a force on the front line with 12 kills. Joanie Benson had six aces and five kills, while Morgan Herrera registered four kills. Rachel Cram chalked up five digs and four assists from her libero spot. MVC fell to 4-1 in NW2B play and 8-2 overall. Marble called the win over Friday Harbor – number 501 in her career – a total team effort. “It was a good night,” she said, “to get a lot of different looks at some things.” La Conner’s focus this week has been on Orcas Island, whom they faced on Tuesday, and Darrington, which is here tomorrow (Thursday) for a 6:30 p.m. league clash at Landy James Gym. In related La Conner High sports notes: • The La Conner High boys’ soccer team suffered a second consecutive hard-luck, one-goal loss last Tuesday, a 3-2 home setback to perennial power Providence Classical Christian. The score was deadlocked 2-2 at the end of regulation, with PCC prevailing in a shootout. Noah Lee found the net for La Conner, which also benefited from a Providence miscue when one of the Bothell school’s players caused the ball to go into his team’s goal. La Conner took a 1-7 overall mark into yesterday’s afternoon match with Grace Academy at Whittaker Field. The Braves and head coach Galen McKnight host Mount Vernon Christian tomorrow (Thursday) in a 4 p.m. Senior Day contest. Entering this week, five of La Conner’s seven defeats had been by three goals or less. • The injury-plagued Lady Braves soccer team (1-4 in league; 2-5-1 overall) fell 3-2 at home to Friday Harbor last Thursday despite a pair of goals from Delaney Cobbs. La Conner head coach Christian Warman praised the work of his entire roster afterward, most notably backup goalkeeper Brandy James, who filled in for injured starter Chloe Cunningham; freshman Isabel Dowry, who made her first start; and veteran midfielders Addie Reinstra and Charity Jordan. La Conner takes a brief hiatus from its conference schedule with a Friday road match (4 p.m.) with the Sedro-Woolley junior varsity.
Simply Marbleous. That was the vibe in Mount Vernon last week when fans from near and far and across time gathered to watch La Conner High volleyball coach Suzanne Marble record her 500th career win with a program she has guided to four state titles, the most recent last November. La Conner’s straight-sets triumph at Mount Vernon Christian resembled many of the preceding 499 victories under Marble’s watch, a journey that began here in 1993. The Lady Braves served at a 94 per cent clip, won two of three sets by double digits and had a handful of players fill the stat sheet. One of those was the coach’s daughter, freshman Ellie Marble, who finished with 22 kills and 10 digs. “It was a great night of volleyball and celebration,” said Coach Marble, who tried deflecting attention from herself, said afterward. “The girls played great and everyone on the team contributed and the girls played to their potential.” That formula was very familiar to those in attendance, a festive crowd that included many of Marble’s former players and their parents, community members and past La Conner Schools administrators under whom she worked. Among those offering congratulations were former La Conner Schools Superintendent Dr. Tim Bruce, retired La Conner teacher, counselor and principal Maureen Harlan, and former curriculum and athletics director and interim superintendent Peg Seeling. “Five hundred is a big number,” said Marble, “but it truly isn’t about the wins, but the relationships, community and volleyball culture for us.” That is underscored in the fact Marble has resisted opportunities to teach and coach at larger schools. “The great thing about a school our size,” she told the Weekly News last year, “is you’re always building upon what you have. At a big school they might cut 70 kids or more. Here, with our smaller enrollment, you have the opportunity to help all players develop their skills.” For much of her La Conner tenure Marble has developed winning teams alongside longtime assistant Pam Keller, whom she singled out for praise amid the festivities at MVC’s DeKok Court. “Pam,” Marble stressed, “is a huge factor in our program’s success and we’re so fortunate to have her.” That success is reflected not only in the four State championships (2002, 2006, 2007, 2018) and bevy of other La Conner High State tourney placement trophies, but also in Marble’s induction into the Washington coaches Hall of Fame four years ago and her status as the reigning State 2B Tournament Coach of the Year. Marble, who grew up in Spokane and attended college in coastal California, arrived in La Conner at a time when the school’s volleyball program was beginning to make its mark. She took it to another level. A level that even La Conner’s league rivals fully appreciate. After the Lady Braves defeated Mount Vernon Christian, the host school’s public address announcer informed fans of Marble’s milestone achievement. “Mount Vernon Christian,” said Marble, “was very gracious and showed incredible sportsmanship to announce the 500th win and then let us have a celebration.” All enjoyed the moment, though just for a moment. A couple nights later, on Thursday, it was back to business for Marble and her charges. La Conner remained unbeaten in conference play with a convincing 3-0 sweep of Friday Harbor. Once again, the Lady Braves mentor had good words for both her players and the opponent. “It was a good night,” she said, “for us to get a lot of different looks at some things. “Friday Harbor,” Marble added, “is a young team with a new coaching staff. Their enthusiasm was impressive.” Equally impressive, for Marble personally, is it was win 501 – and counting.