Wednesday, September 1, 2004

Young and hungry, Hailey spikers move up

Jump to 4A is right up Wood River?s alley

Express Staff Writer

This fall, Wood River High School?s move from 3A up to the bigger-school 4A division in athletics has caused some dismay at the difficulties ahead, along with plenty of determination throughout the Hailey school to try harder and do better.

Wood River?s volleyball program, differing from other sports, is taking the change in stride because the Wolverines have a long history of playing up against stronger competition. In mid-season tournaments, they play big schools every year and do pretty well.

Going back to the origins of Idaho volleyball, Wood River emerged from its District Four league with Buhl, Minico, Twin Falls, Burley and Jerome to win three district titles from 1977-80?along with State Class A titles over Sandpoint in 1977 and 1978.

Before joining the Sawtooth Central Idaho Conference in 1998, Wood River won district championships over Jerome three times from 1994-96. Indeed, the Wolverine program has won 18 district championships and made 19 state trips since 1977.

Third-year Wood River head varsity coach Tim Richards (52-29, 4-4 at state) is well aware of the Hailey volleyball tradition, but he?s also fully versed about the challenges his young team faces in the 2004 campaign, which begins Saturday against Minico.

Richards said, ?This is the most challenging schedule we?ve ever seen at Wood River. We?re a young team, and not as deep on the bench as we?ve been, but some of the girls have tasted success and all are hungry for more.

?It doesn?t matter who we play, we know we aren?t going to be given anything on the court. We have to earn victories. We have to earn respect each time we play. We want to continue to make the commitment to excellence we established last year.?

Last year, Wood River (31-14) placed second behind Sugar-Salem in the State 3A tournament. It was Wood River?s third state runner-up trophy, to go with similar hardware won in 1997 and 1982. But the Wolverines lost seven talented seniors.

They graduated All-State first-teamer Charli Lindley and three-time All-SCIC player Jessica King. Both are now playing college volleyball. They also lost second-team All-State Liz Rippon and rangy Natalie Green. They graduated versatile Emily Smith.

Senior Rachael Richards is the only returning full-time starter.

Which means coach Richards has big holes to fill, but the ability and drive is there. Last Wednesday, for instance, Wood River was very competitive dur-ing an Idaho Falls Jamboree against State 4A runner-up Bonneville and State 2A runner-up Firth.

?The girls were very competitive and we held our own. Against Bonneville we were 23-all and 20-all before losing 25-23 and 25-22. Maybe we were a little weak on our passing, but we have a pretty athletic group that will improve,? Richards said.

You have to be ready at the get-go of the season or you get left behind, and that?s why Wood River players always seem to put in extra time?like attend-ing a big volleyball festival in Reno, Nev. in June. Richards took many of the varsity players to Reno.

So Wood River was ready to play hard at the Bonneville Jamboree. He said, ?Defense was one of the things that kept us in all the matches. We dug and kept balls in play. I?ve always believed that you build on defense and score points with your blocking. And our serving was pretty consistent.?

This season, the varsity has decent height, in fact, a great deal of height at the setter position.

The coach can use senior captain Rachael Richards, at 5-11, at setter, plus 5-10 senior Syringa Stark, 5-11 sophomore Leah McIlhenny and 5-10 junior Hannah Richards. He said, ?All four can set, and three of them are some of our best hitters.?

Against Bonneville, which fell to undefeated Sandpoint (35-0) in last year?s State 4A final, coach Richards had Rachael Richards hitting in the middle and used McIlhenny and Hannah Richards as setters. Hannah moved the offense well, then Rachael did most of the setting against Firth.

Others who?ll play varsity are 5-10 junior Jackie Safran, 5-5 junior Ryann Menges and 5-9 junior Jamie Stone.

Fortunately, Wood River will step into the Great Basin Conference West (WR, Jerome, Burley, Minico) and immediately challenge for the league cham-pionship?and the four-team district?s only automatic berth to the State 4A tournament in October.

Jerome, which has a new coach in 2004 replacing longtime mentor Brent Clark, made a quick 0-2 exit in last year?s State 4A tournament after qualifying for a state trip for the first time in 10 years. Burley was winless in 2002. Minico struggled in 5A last year?and last visited state in 1996.

Wood River beat Jerome twice and Burley once last season in non-conference matches. This time around, the meetings will be conference affairs. Ri-chards said, ?Everybody on our team would like to do well in our league and go back to state.

?But one of the things we?ve also talked about is just having fun.?

One of the season highlights will be the 24th annual Wood River Invitational tournament Sept. 17-18 on the Hailey court. Wood River will also play in tough mid-season tournaments in Idaho Falls and Boise this fall.

WRHS volleyball roster


Head coach: Tim Richards
Captain: Rachael Richards
Seniors (2): Rachael Richards and Syringa Stark.
Juniors (4): Jamie Stone, Ryann Menges, Hannah Richards and Jackie Safran.
Sophomores (3): Casey Vegwert, Leah McIlhenny and Elissa Baker.

Junior varsity

Head coach: Gary Carr
Juniors (2): Kortnee King and Stefanie Yates.
Sophomores (5): LeighAndra Roberts, Kelsey Lidstrom, Jordan Scanlon and Emma Johnson.
Freshmen (2): Lauren Morgenthaler and Hannah Ward.

Freshman team

Head coach: Becky Brown.
Players (11): Carly Ballantyne, Hannah Gove, McKenna Murphy, Dani Stone, Desi Peters, Dakota Orchard, Heidi Bergt, Alisa Durkheimer, Tory Linderman, Katie Pruett and Wrenn Patterson.

2004 WRHS Volleyball Schedule

A total 14 matches on the season schedule for the 2004 Wolverine varsity, 8 home and 9 away, plus 3 regular-season varsity tourneys. All home matches at Wood River High School gym, Hailey. General admission $5. For single matches, starting times are freshmen 5:15 p.m., JV 6:15 p.m. and varsity 7:30 p.m. Wood River's home varsity matches are denoted in bold type. Fourth District 4A matches are marked with an asterisk (*).The Great Basin Conference includes 7 teams?WR, Jerome, Burley, Minico, Pocatello, Century and Preston.



Sept. 4, Saturday Minico* Home, 2:00

Sept. 7, Tuesday Jerome*, Minico tri Jerome, 5:00

Sept. 9, Thursday Twin Falls, Pocatello tri Twin Falls, 6:00

Sept. 14, Tuesday Twin Falls, Gooding tri Home, 5:00

Sept. 17, Friday WR varsity tourney Hailey, 5:00 (3 nets)

Sept. 18, Saturday WR varsity tourney Hailey, 8:30 (3 nets)

Sept. 21, Tuesday Burley* Away, 7:30

Sept. 24, Friday Hillcrest/Bonneville tourney Idaho Falls, 6:00

Sept. 25, Saturday Hillcrest/Bonneville tourney Idaho Falls, 8:30

Sept. 28, Tuesday Jerome*, Filer tri Home, 5:00

Oct. 1, Friday Borah varsity tournament Boise, 5:00

Oct. 2, Saturday Borah varsity tournament Boise, 8:30

Oct. 7, Thursday Minico* Rupert, 7:30

Oct. 9, Saturday Century, Preston tri Pocatello, TBA

Oct. 12, Tuesday Burley* (Sr. Night) Home, 7:30

Oct. 14, Thursday District 4A (high seed hosts) TBA

Oct. 21, Thursday 4A playoff (4B vs. 5B) TBA

Oct. 23, Saturday Playoff (4-5B vs. 6B) Highland, Pocatello, 2:30

Oct. 28, Thursday State 4A Bonneville, Idaho Falls

Junior varsity


Sept. 4, Saturday Minico* Home, 1:00

Sept. 7, Tuesday Jerome*, Minico tri Jerome, 1:00

Sept. 11, Saturday Wood River JV tourney Hailey, 8:30 (2 nets)

Sept. 14, Tuesday Twin Falls, Gooding tri Home, 5:00

Sept. 21, Tuesday Burley* Away, 6:00

Sept. 25, Saturday Buhl JV tournament Buhl, 8:00

Sept. 28, Tuesday Jerome, Filer tri Home, 5:00

Oct. 7, Thursday Minico* Rupert, 6:00

Oct. 12, Tuesday Burley* Home, 6:00

Ninth grade


Aug. 31, Tuesday Jerome Away, 5:00

Sept. 2, Thursday Minico Home, 5:00

Sept. 8, Wednesday Stuart Twin Falls, 6:00

Sept. 9, Thursday Burley Away, 6:00

Sept. 14, Tuesday O?Leary Twin Falls, 4:15

Sept. 23, Thursday Jerome Home, 5:00

Sept. 28, Tuesday Minico Rupert, 5:00

Oct. 5, Tuesday Burley Home, 5:00

Oct. 6, Wednesday O?Leary Home, 5:00

Oct. 9, Saturday Highland Pocatello, TBA

Oct. 12, Tuesday Tournament TBA

NOTES?The Fourth District (WR, Jerome, Burley, Minico) gets 1.25 berths in the State 4A tournament?meaning the league champion automatically goes to state, while the runner-up team must win two playoff games against eastern Idaho teams to advance. The league tournament is high seed hosts, match-ups #1 vs. #4 and #2 vs. #3.?. Tiebreakers in the event of ties in the District 4 league go to overall record and then to common records against Great Basin Conference opponents.?.In opening-round state match-ups at Bonneville in Idaho Falls, the Fourth District champion plays the winner of the District 1/2 champion, while the winner of the 4-5B vs. 6B playoff plays the Third District champion..... Rally scoring will again be used in Idaho volleyball?all matches best 3-of-5, games played to 25 points (no cap) with the fifth and deciding game to 15 points. ?Let? serves will be allowed and play shall continue ?.Booster athletic season tickets for all Wood River sporting events during the 2004-05 school year are available for $45 per person ($75 couples) at the high school. Season tickets for middle school and elementary school students are $20. Drop by the high school and see athletic director Ron Martinez. Senior citizens 65-and-over are admitted free to Wood River sporting events.

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