Depth was the big difference between two traditional Idaho volleyball powerhouses when 4A Wood River and 3A Gooding clashed in their only meeting of the season Tuesday in Hailey.
Using all 11 players effectively, the Wolverines of coaches Tim Richards and Gary Carr captured a 25-16, 27-25, 25-16 homecourt win over the tough Gooding Senators coached by Luanne Axelson.
"Everybody does good things," said Richards.
Hampered by strep throat, senior setter Haleigh Hall saw limited playing time. It opened the door for an outstanding contribution by sophomore setter Jessica Hamilton. "Jessica showed everybody what she has," said Richards.
But it was a team effort.
Wood River's seniors, led by the hitting of Angela Coleman and Kaylee Baker and the serving of Hanna Gustafson, helped win the first game 25-16. Gooding came to play in the second game of the best-three-of-five. The Senators built 10-3 and 18-10 leads in their challenge.
With 6-0 Baker playing very big at the net, and with Gustafson and Hamilton serving well, Wood River battled back into a 19-19 tie. That's when Gooding surged ahead again, going on top 24-20 and looking very good. Fortunately, a timely tip by junior Grace Lagodich got the serve back for the home team.
Richards called time. He recalled, "I told the girls, we're going to have Haleigh come in, and she'll get her serves in, and all you'll have to do is defend. And that's what they did."
Senior libero Kylie Anderson made back-to-back incredible digs to set up points, Lagodich tipped another ball for a 24-24 game and Monica Garceau served it out 27-25.
The serving of Coleman was a big factor in the 25-16 third-game win. She served four straight winners including two aces to turn a 9-6 deficit into an 11-9 lead, then added five straight winners to wrap up the game and match. Baker's work at the net and Gustafson's serving were crucial at mid-game.
Also pitching in were Shelby Grubbs, Ellen Johnson and Sara Koonce. Leading Gooding were Brittany Wirth, Carrie Baker, Mekala Koyle, Angela Vitek and Shailey Twamley.
Wood River hosts the 28th annual Wood River Invitational varsity tourney today, Friday, and Saturday at the high school gym. Due are 15 of Idaho's best volleyball schools including six from the 5A ranks, six 4A and three 3A.
Two-time defending champion Boise is back, and so is Hillcrest of Idaho Falls, which won the Wood River tourney four straight years from 2000-03. Reigning State 5A runner-up Idaho Falls and 2003-05 State 4A champion Bishop Kelly of Boise are in the same pool with Boise and Hillcrest on Friday.
Wood River (6-5, 1-0 league) is pooled with Kimberly (4 p.m. Friday), Mountain Home (7 p.m. Friday), Borah of Boise (8:30 a.m. Saturday) and Centennial (11:30 a.m. Saturday). The championship tournament begins at 12:30 p.m. Saturday. Final match is set for 5:30 p.m.
Other schools are Filer, Mountain View, Timberline, Payette, Blackfoot and Burley.
Carey spikers have busy week
Coach Kathy Simpson's Carey School Panthers (6-4, 3-2 league) completed a busy stretch of three matches in three nights by hosting The Community School of Sun Valley (0-6, 0-5) Thursday night in a Northside Conference match.
The Panthers won at Murtaugh 25-13, 25-22, 25-17 Tuesday and lost a rematch at Mackay Wednesday 25-16, 25-17, 25-18.