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Produced & Maintained by Idaho Mountain Express, Box 1013, Ketchum, ID 83340-1013 
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Copyright © 2003 Express Publishing Inc.
All Rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of Express Publishing Inc. is prohibited. 

For the week of October 29 - November 4, 2003


Gooding’s defense
a real showstopper

Wood River’s district reign ends:
A rematch is possible

Express Staff Writer

Brittanie Toone, barely out of kindergarten, was the ball girl when the Gooding Senator volleyball team coached by her mother Jolene Toone won the State A-3 volleyball championship over Butte County in 1992.

Wood River High School’s hopes for success at this weekend’s State 3A tournament in Coeur d’Alene will rest on its team defense. Keeping the ball off the floor worked most of the season for Wood River, as seniors Natalie Green (right) and Charli Lindley (left) show in a Hailey match earlier this season. Gooding did it better in the district finals, though, so the Senators are SCIC champs. Express photo by David N. Seelig

Coach Jolene Toone won state volleyball titles for Gooding in 1991 and 1992 and, before Brittanie was born, Jolene also won state titles for Gooding in 1986, 1981 and 1979. It’s quite a legacy built by one of Idaho’s preeminent athletic coaches.

Being the Gooding ball girl for three years, 1992-94, meant that Brittanie retrieved plenty of balls for the Gooding varsity.

It was the kind of practice that came in handy last week when Brittanie was in quite a different position—star player for Gooding’s squad coached, of course, by her mother Jolene.

Toone, a 5-5 sophomore hitter and exemplary back-row digger, sparked an incredible Senator defensive effort that beat the powerful Wood River High School Wolverines for the Sawtooth Central Idaho Conference tourney championship, held at Kimberly.

Although both Gooding and Wood River had already qualified for the State 3A tournament and were playing for state seeding and bragging rights, it was a shocking victory.

Wood River had won eight league titles in nine years and 18 district championships since 1977. The Wolverines had been nearly unbeatable in winning those 18 titles, going 50-2 in tourney matches and rarely if ever visiting the loser bracket.

Gooding, with Brittanie Toone and her teammates letting nothing touch the floor, retrieved nearly everything Hailey’s hitters threw at the Senators. They ended Hailey’s string of three straight SCIC titles the hard way—coming through the loser bracket.

After taking a 2-0 lead in games then falling to #1-seeded Wood River in five games Oct. 21, #2 Gooding dropped into the SCIC loser bracket. To win the district, Gooding knew it would have to play volleyball for four hours and win nine games over two tough foes Wednesday.

The Senators (1-22 four years ago) did it, ousting Declo and taking Wood River to the limit.

Gooding earned the top seed from the Fourth District going into this weekend’s State 3A tournament in Coeur d’Alene—and gave 22nd-year coach Jolene Toone a legitimate chance to win her fifth state volleyball crown in four different decades of coaching.

At Kimberly Wednesday, Gooding knocked off #4-seeded Declo 25-10, 25-22, 25-19.

Playing right afterward, the Senators dropped the first two games to Wood River by lopsided scores of 25-12, 25-18. Counting the previous night’s collapse, Gooding had lost five straight games to the Wolverines. The end seemed near.

But defense and a determined blocking effort turned it around—enabling Gooding to win six of the final seven games played between the teams.

Led by the attacks of 5-5 junior hitter Ashly Abramowski (17 kills) and junior middle Cady Coates (7 kills), Gooding dominated Wood River 25-10 in the third then squeaked out a 25-21 win in the fourth. The decisive fifth game victory went to the Senators 15-8.

Gooding, relying on team defense, had grabbed the all-important momentum.

The outcome forced a deciding match which Gooding won 25-21, 15-25, 25-21, 25-19 over a stunned bunch of Wolverines. Teri Lehr (10 kills, 9 serves, 3 blocks) and Brittanie Toone (7 kills, 9 serves) led Gooding.

Wood River’s frustration at not being able to finish its attacks was evident in the stats.

In Wednesday’s first championship match, Wood River had 38 successful attacks on 180 attempts (21%). In the second, it was 46 successful attacks on 168 attempts (27%). During the season, Hailey had averaged nearly 50% on its attacks.

As always, senior Jessica King (37 serves) topped Wood River with 36 kills on 102 attacks in the two matches, while senior co-captain Liz Rippon had 17 kills on 60 attempts.

Wood River’s feeling of emptiness was different from 24 hours before, when the blocking and all-around play of former Gooding player Nikki Calzacorta (19 serves, 3 aces) sparked the Wolverines out of a 2-0 hole to three straight wins over Gooding.

Gooding, which had lost three consecutive matches to Wood River before Wednesday’s district title match sweep, gained an admirer in Wood River coach Tim Richards.

"They dug everything, blocked everything and played well," said Richards. "I think we lacked the sense of urgency we had the previous night, when we got down two games to them then came back and stood tall and earned our state tournament trip.

"Offensively, we weren’t very multi-faceted on Wednesday night. We were passing all right, but we weren’t being real creative. You have to keep your opponent guessing, and Gooding knew what was coming. Gooding just played real well."

It’s possible that Gooding (17-3) and Wood River (28-12) could meet in the semi-finals of the upcoming state tourney.

The Senators open Friday against First District runner-up Priest River, while Wood River tackles Fifth District champion Marsh Valley (26-6), the top-ranked Idaho 3A team in Idahosports.com polling.

First-round victories by the junior-laden Gooding team and the senior-dominated Wood River squad would match the two opponents again in a semi-final Friday evening. Richards said, "It would be fun to play Gooding again."

Wood River and Middleton are the only teams returning from last year’s state tournament won by Preston over Shelley. Richards hopes the experience of playing at state in 2002 (a 1-2 record, losing to Bear Lake and Shelley, beating Bonners Ferry) will be an advantage for his veteran squad.

"At state, everybody is tough," he said. "Maybe Gooding did it to us one night, but we know we’ll have to get ourselves up and stay at a certain level for three days to succeed at state. Our goal is to be the best.

"Right now, we’re at the point of our journey where we can focus on the destination. It’s really up to them (Wood River players). If they decide they want to do it, they are capable of doing it. It will be interesting.

"As I told them at practice today, somebody has to win that tournament, and it might as well be us."

The team banquet is Saturday, Nov. 8 at 6:30 p.m. in the high school commons area.

Statistics from last week’s dramatic district matches against Gooding:

Oct. 21 semi-final match (WR won 23-25, 15-25, 25-23, 25-21, 15-8): Kills—For WR, Jessica King 11 and Charli Lindley 11; for Gooding, Tery Lehr 15, Brittanie Toone 12 and Cady Coates 10. Serves—For WR, Nikki Calzacorta 19 with 3 aces; for Gooding, Brittanie Toone 21.

Oct. 22, first championship match (Gooding won 12-25, 18-25, 25-10, 25-21, 15-11): Kills—For WR, Jessica King 15 on 48 attempts, Charli Lindley 9 on 43 attempts, Natalie Green 5 on 20 attempts, Liz Rippon 4 on 19 attempts and Emily Smith 4 on 28 attempts; for Gooding, Ashly Abramowski 17, Cady Coates 7 and Katie Rice 5.

Serves—For WR, Jessica King 19 with 3 aces, Rachael Richards 18 with 2 aces, Emily Smith 14, Charli Lindley 13, Natalie Green 9, Liz Rippon 7, Nikki Calzacorta 7; for Gooding, Brittanie Toone 17 and Teri Lehr 13. Assists—Rachael Richards 17 and Emily Smith 14. Blocks—Natalie Green 4 and Charli Lindley 3.

Oct. 22, second championship match (Gooding won 25-21, 15-25, 25-21, 25-19): Kills—For WR, Jessica King 21 on 54 attempts and Liz Rippon 13 on 41 attempts; for Gooding, Teri Lehr 10, Ashly Abramowski 9, Brittanie Toone 7 and Cady Coates 5.

Serves—For WR, Jessica King 18, Natalie Green 18, Emily Smith 14 and Liz Rippon 13; for Gooding, Cady Coates 13, Kalynn Pereira 10, Brittanie Toone 9, Teri Lehr 9 and Katie Rice 6. Assists—Rachael Richards 20 and Emily Smith 14. Blocks—Gooding, Katie Rice 4 and Teri Lehr 3.



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