Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Spartans outlast Hailey spikers in five

Tournament action in Hailey

Senior captain Rachael Richards injured her ankle shortly before the Great Basin Conference West prep volleyball tournament opened Monday night at Wood River High School gym in Hailey.

The accident sent Richards to the sidelines?and put Wood River behind the eight ball for what became four hours of hard-fought volleyball in the four-team meet. Still, the young Wolverines fought hard and nearly won both their matches.

Top-seeded Wood River (17-14 overall) rallied past the #4-seeded Burley Bobcats 18-25, 25-14, 17-25, 25-18, 15-11 in the first match. But then, the #2-seeded Minico Spartans had a little more gas in their hitting tank and outlasted Wood River 23-25, 25-23, 15-25, 25-23, 15-10.

Hailey coach Tim Richards said, ?It?s hard to lose your senior setter and captain right before the tournament. But you saw a lot of enthusiasm and emotion from girls who stepped in and showed a lot of heart."

One special fill-in player was freshman setter Dani Stone, who had 29 assists to go with 20 assists by Leah McIlhenny and 10 by Hannah Richards in the five-game victory over Burley.

Ryann Menges added 12 kills and Jackie Safran 10 kills, while McIlhenny (13 serves), Hannah Richards (12), Safran (11), Dani Stone (11) and Kelsey Lidstrom (11) led the Wolverine efficiency at the serving stripe.

One key to Wood River?s win in the first game was the return of senior Syringa Stark, who sat out the first game loss to Burley. Stark missed practice Friday because she went to the boys? football game in Jerome.

When Stark got back on the floor, Wood River?s blocking picked up. She had four huge blocks in Wood River?s 25-18 fourth-game victory over Burley, then she and Hannah Richards had three kills apiece in the 15-11 fifth-game decider.

Minico was a fired-up team in Monday?s late match, because the Spartans rallied big time after dropping the first two games for a 19-25, 15-25, 25-17, 25-17, 17-15 triumph over the #3-seeded Jerome Tigers.

The Spartan block won the match over Jerome?and it was pretty effective against Hailey.

Junior Jackie Safran (8 kills for the match) hammered four winners in the 25-23 Wolverine first-game win. But the strong hitting of Minico?s Megan Whitlock and Mary Fennell gave the Spartans a narrow 25-23 victory in the second game.

Hannah Richards (29 serves) was hot from the stripe in the third, dishing out nine winners as Wood River breezed 25-15. Battling back from deficits in the fourth, the Wolverines nearly won led by Lidstrom (4 kills, 8 total), Stark (3 kills, 10 total) and Safran (3 kills).

But Minico pulled out another 25-23 win. ?I felt we had to get them in that fourth game,? said Wood River coach Richards. ?In the fifth game Minico ran its offense and swung away?and we just didn?t swing away at the end.?

Sparked to a 7-4 lead by junior OH Codie Smith, Minico wrapped it up 15-10 with Fennell unstoppable at the net.

Stark (17 serves), Dani Stone (14), McIlhenny (13) and Safran (13) led the Hailey servers, while Hannah Richards (7 kills) and Jamie Stone (6) were the other hitters. Dani Stone added 12 assists and McIlhenny 10.

On the other court Monday night, Jerome eliminated Burley 25-23, 21-25, 25-18, 23-25, 15-13. It meant Wood River clashed with Jerome Tuesday night in a loser-out match, with the winner facing Minico for the championship Tuesday night on the Hailey hardwoods.

Only the winner of this week?s four-team tournament was guaranteed of a berth in the State 4A tournament Oct. 28 at Bonneville High, Idaho Falls.

However, both the first-place and second-place teams after Tuesday?s action will travel Thursday, Oct. 21 to Century High School in Pocatello for matches starting at 6 p.m.

The tournament winner will battle the Fifth District champion for state seeding purposes, while the Great Basin West runner-up will challenge the Fifth District runner-up to stay alive in a hunt for a state berth.

One more match is set for Saturday, Oct. 23 at 1:30 p.m. at Highland High in Pocatello. There, the winner of Thursday?s Great Basin runner-up face-off will clash with the Sixth District runner-up for the final state berth from the area.

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