It may be the time of the year when family members from all across the country come together and give thanks for all they have, but don’t be surprised if there is a little more than small talk around the Thanksgiving tables for the Holehouses and Webbs.
“Hey, sis, would you pass me the turkey, and, oh yeah, my state championship plaque?” might be thrown in somewhere amongst the table conversation, because Fallston sisters Rachael and Anna Holehouse and teammate Shannon Webb have accomplished what their older siblings simply could not; win a volleyball state championship.
“I think she did well in high school as a home-schooler,” Rachael said of her older sister, Roberta Holehouse, who missed a state championship but took home national gold when she won a 2007-2008 NCAA title with Penn State. “But yeah, I will rub it in a little bit.”
“I would,” Webb jumped in. “I know I am going to tell my sister that.”
There is no doubt that all the Cougar Nation is going to have just a little bit of a happier Thanksgiving after watching the girls take down No. 15 Marriotts Ridge on Monday in three games for the 2A state crown, 25-13, 25-14 and 25-20.
“We have been thinking about it since Aug. 24, but it has gone unsaid till these last few weeks,” Fallston coach Alison Winaker said. “They have outscored and played their hearts out against everyone we have played this season.”
To say that the Cougars simply outscored the Mustangs in the first two games would be an understatement, because Fallston was able to lace 28 kills to Marriotts Ridge’s five in the first two games, and walk away with back-to-back 10-plus point victories.
But the Mustangs held tough in game three, tying the Cougars four times in the game and going on a 7-4 run near the end to force Winaker to use a timeout with Marriotts Ridge trailing just by just three points, 23-20.
“I am always hesitant to call timeouts with these girls. I know that the best people to get the job done are the people on the court at that time,” Winaker explained. “It was not because I thought they were going to drop the set, I just felt like they needed a minute to step back and take a minute.
“They have such court sense and a team relationship that I know, if I can hold back and wait, they will work through it. I feel like tonight, more than other games in the past, they did that. At no point was I worried that they wouldn’t be successful.”
The timeout proved to be a great choice, as the Cougars closed the game two points later.
“We just had to buckle down and focus for those first three points,” Webb said about fighting back the pre-game jitters. “Those were brutal. I thought we played really well and we just had fun on the court.
“It feels good to be the best. We are on top. We are number one. We just won states.”
The win means a lot for the Fallston community, being the first ever girls’ volleyball state championship, but it also meant a lot for Winaker to do it in front of a sea of orange.
“I am a former player for [Nicole Hoover], and if you looked in the crowd tonight there were former players, former managers, former parents, and it shows that she has taken this team from being respectable in the county to at the regional and state level,” Winaker said. “I knew that we had the squad to do it this season, and their talent and heart have showed in every match.
Winaker was in the state tournament, too, when she was a Cougar, and to see the team bring home the championship plaque in her first year as head coach is making her legacy with Fallston even sweeter.
“I was here in 2000 and loss in the semis, I was a sophomore in high school, so when they won that game it was a bit of a personal victory,” Winaker said. “It is great for Fallston High School to bring home the first state championship in volleyball.”
The Mustangs also made history for their own school, being the first ever girls’ sport to make it to a state championship.
“We made school history in being in the state finals for the first time, not just in volleyball but in any girls’ sport at our school, so we have a lot to be proud of tonight,” Mustangs coach Amanda Olsen said. “We were out matched offensively for sure, but we were prepared for it and we touched a lot, we just weren’t able to really control where the ball went.”
“Like coach said, we made school history, and this is what we aimed for in the beginning,” senior Cara Koontz added. “Personally, playing in Ritchie Coliseum, not once but twice, was awesome. And all the fans coming out to support us was fun.”
But it is still hard for the seniors to say goodbye, not just to a season so close to a state championship, but to teammates and a program.
“It is a combination of both,” senior Meredith Krzys said. “At this point, we just really wanted it badly, but also it was because that was the last time you would be a part of the Mustang volleyball program.”
Fallston 3, Marriotts Ridge 0
Fallston 25 25 25
Marriotts Ridge 13 14 20