Co-captain Hannah Ward said her team's goal in 2007 was to get back to the State 4A prep volleyball tournament—and the Wolverines have achieved that goal, according to sixth-year coach Tim Richards.
Now, the hard part begins.
After winning the school's 20th district volleyball championship in dramatic, come-from-behind fashion at Burley last week, the Wood River High School volleyball team has drawn a tough assignment Friday, Oct. 26 in northern Idaho.
For the second straight year the Wolverines will open up the eight-school State 4A tourney playing an undefeated team from Skyview High School in Nampa. This year, Skyview (17-0) is #1 in the 4A state rankings issued by Idahosports.com.
"We'll go up, play real hard and hopefully find a way to step up when we need to," said Richards (134-89-2 as head coach), whose team played Skyview tough losing 15-13 in the decisive third game at the Borah Invitational Oct. 6 in Meridian.
The team's current record is 19-11-2. One match victory at state is needed for Wood River's eighth consecutive 20-win campaign. But once again, the field is challenging—six teams returning from last year's State 4A meet won by perennial Gem State volleyball contender Sandpoint.
Wood River's first match against Skyview's Hawks is Friday at 1 p.m. The winner meets the winner of the Century-Middleton match. On the other side of the 4A bracket are these matches: Bonneville of Idaho Falls vs. Emmett and Sandpoint vs. newcomer Rigby.
Third-ranked Sandpoint (22-2) has won four State 4A tournament titles in seven years and 13 Idaho titles overall. Second-ranked Bonneville (35-4) lost to Sandpoint in last year's final. Top-ranked Skyview, third last year, is seeking its first-ever state spike title.
Last year, Wood River lost its state opener to Skyview in four games and exited early with a three-game loss to Century. If the Wolverines play Century again at state, they'll have to step it up compared to last Thursday night's state seeding match-up in Pocatello.
Playing at Century, the Hailey girls were dog tired after winning three straight matches for the Great Basin West championship and the school's 21st state tournament berth two nights before at Burley, Richards said. He substituted freely and used 11 players.
But Wood River didn't have the spring in its legs to stop Century's killer hitting. The D'Backs had a 53-27 edge in kills led by Markki Otteson (24 kills) and Cami Miller (12 kills) and thus captured the Great Basin Conference championship 25-16, 25-10, 22-25, 25-15.
Wolverine players with four or more kills at Century were Hannah Ward, Hannah Gove, Grace Lagodich, birthday girl Angela Coleman and Kaylee Baker. Ward (8) and Haleigh Hall (8) topped Wood River in service winners. For Century, libero Kaneshia Nelson (22 service winners) was lights out at the stripe last Thursday.