Considered the best in your conference is a good place for a high school volleyball team to be—and that's where the Wood River Wolverine varsity team is perched entering next week's Great Basin tournament.
Top-seeded Wood River (19-11) improved its Great Basin Conference West regular-season record to a perfect 6-0 Tuesday with a 25-11, 25-23, 25-18 home court sweep of the #3-seeded Burley Bobcats in Hailey.
"It was a good night for our seniors and for the whole team," said Wolverine co-coach Tim Richards.
It was "Senior Night," and the Wolverines came out fired up, determined to show the Burley challengers that they've sharpened their skills after being forced to five games in a 20-25, 16-25, 25-23, 25-23, 15-10 win on the Bobcat court back on Sept. 19.
And the four seniors did great.
Co-captain and outside hitter Elissa Baker pounded a team-high 11 kills in 16 attempts, including a timely hammer that gave Wood River a 24-22 lead in the tightly played second game.
Wood River's other co-captain, senior libero/setter Casey Vegwert, had 13 assists and served nine winners (2 aces), but she was happiest with her back-to-back kills that broke open a close third game at 19-15 and sent Hailey to the 25-18 victory.
Leah McIlhenny, senior setter, served up 15 assists plus five winning serves and two kills. She passed the ball where it was needed all night.
And 5-11 senior middle Kelsey Lidstrom (9 kills in 17 attempts) set the tone of Wood River's net dominance from the get-go, with four kills in the first game. Lidstrom added eight service winners and two blocks.
Hailey got solid efforts from junior Hannah Ward (6 kills/11 attempts, 9 service winners); junior Hannah Gove (6 kills, 5 service winners including 2 aces, 2 blocks); and junior Lauren Morgenthaler (5 kills, 2 blocks). Ward served seven straight winners in the first game.
Leading Burley were setter Katelin Robins (19 assists), Ryann Cooper (7 kills), Alex Haynie (6 kills) and Jessica Brice (5 kills).
Wood River, which finished its regular season in Idaho Falls against 5A Skyline Thursday night, will be a heavy favorite on its home court next week during the two-day, four-team double elimination tournament. All matches will be played on one court.
On Monday, Wood River opens at 4 p.m. against Minico (0-6 league). Next, at 5:30 p.m., defending tournament champion and #2-seeded Jerome (9-8, 4-2) goes against #3 Burley (8-11, 2-4) at 5:30 p.m. Assuming Wood River beats Minico, the losers of the first two matches will play at 7 p.m. and the winners will clash at 8:30 p.m. Monday.
Monday's action will eliminate one team, and another loser-out game will kick off Tuesday's action at 4 p.m. The championship match is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Tuesday with an if-necessary contest at 7 p.m.
The tournament winner automatically qualifies for the State 4A tournament Oct. 27-28 at Kimberly High School, while the runner-up can only advance to state by winning two state play-in matches Oct. 19 and 21.
For next week's Great Basin winner, one more state seeding match will be played Thursday, Oct. 19 at a location still to be determined.