Move over, traditional 4A Great Basin Conference prep volleyball powers. The Minico Spartans are making a move for one of two state tournament berths from the new six-school conference in 2009.
Playing well as a team with six seniors and one talented sophomore, coach Kris Christensen's Spartans came up to Hailey's Wood River High School Thursday and captured a 25-19, 20-25, 25-17, 25-22 league win over the Wolverines.
Call it an upset, considering Minico's last-place finish in the Great Basin the past four years and Wood River's three-year run as Great Basin champions.
Minico hadn't beaten Wood River in 10 consecutive matches dating back to 2004, when the Spartans defeated Wood River for the Great Basin tournament championship.
But it wasn't an isolated incident in 2009. Minico has already beaten Jerome, Wood River and Canyon Ridge, all in four games this fall.
Wood River coach Tim Richards said, "I said before the season that the two teams that will challenge us are Minico and Twin Falls. Minico has six good athletes, and they really wanted the match against us. They played good defense and went after everything. Their coach said this is Minico's best team in a while."
The Wolverines (6-6, 0-1 league) struggled on offense, especially in the middle against Minico. Senior Grace Lagodich (16 kills) was the only effective hitter, followed by junior Jade Glenn (6 kills, 4 blocks) and senior co-captain Monica Garceau (6 kills).
Allyson Hesteness (10 winning serves) excelled on defense, with Lagodich (9 serving winners) and Jessica Hamilton (5 winners) also doing well at the stripe. Co-captain Ellen Johnson added seven kills.
Richards said, "Allie Hesteness played well for us, and so did Jessica (Hamilton) and Monica (Garceau)."
Wood River's only satisfying moment came in the second-game victory, when Lagodich broke a 19-19 tie with a kill and added two more kills down the stretch in the 25-20 triumph. Junior Alison Levy finished the win with a nice block at the net.
But Minico was relentless in pursuing and securing victory. Leading the way was senior Breonna Phillips (10 kills, 5 blocks) and sophomore Chelsea Hepworth (8 kills, 7 blocks). And, as coach Richards said, Minico senior setter Hayli Worthington (3 kills, 12 winning serves) "set a really nice match for Minico."
Minico senior Kendra Bailey (7 kills, 2 blocks) chipped in with 16 winning serves for the Spartans, and senior Brecka Fetzer (5 kills, 3 blocks, 8 winning serves) helped out.
Wolverine coach Richards hoped his team would regroup for Tuesday's home tri-match with Great Basin foe Twin Falls, coached by former Wood River basketball star B.J. Price, and Gooding's Senators.
Wood River tourney Saturday
One of the season's highlights arrives Friday and Saturday, Sept. 18-19 when the 29th annual Wood River Invitational varsity tournament comes to the Hailey gym.
Last year's winner of the single elimination bracket was Idaho Falls 25-17, 25-15 over Filer. Both teams advanced to their respective state tournaments, Idaho Falls placing second to Eagle in the 5A tourney.
Besides Wood River, Idaho Falls and Filer, teams in this weekend's 13-school tournament are 2006-07 winner Boise, 2000-03 champ Hillcrest of Idaho Falls, Blackfoot, Borah of Boise, Burley, Timberline of Boise, Mountain Home, Payette, Kimberly and Twin Falls.
Action on two courts begins with round robin play Friday at 4 p.m. The two-day tournament finishes up Saturday afternoon.
Next week, Wood River invades Minico in Rupert Tuesday, Sept. 22 and Jerome on Thursday, Sept. 24.
Cutthroats stay on shutout roll, 3-0 over 'Hawks
Led by the scoring of senior co-captain Erica Eshman, The Community School girls' soccer team stretched its September hot streak Saturday with a 3-0 non-conference road win over the Canyon Ridge Riverhawks, in Twin Falls.
Eshman (14 goals season) tallied two goals and junior Freya Dickey added a single score as the Cutthroats (5-3-0, 4-1-0) made it 4-0 for September—all shutout victories by a combined 25-0 score. They've won four straight and five out of six.
In the Idahosports.com ranking of the leading Idaho girls' soccer scorers submitted by coaches and schools, Eshman was ranked #1 last week—quite a distinction for the small independent Sun Valley school.
The Cutthroats have a big week of challenges just ahead. They traveled to Declo (0-6-3, 0-4-1) on Tuesday, but have two of their toughest games on back-to-back days later this week, both on the Sagewillow Farms home field at Elkhorn.
Coach Kelly Feldman's Cutthroats will host the league-leading Filer Wildcats (7-1-1, 5-0-0) Thursday, Sept. 17 at 4:30 p.m. Filer blanked the Cutthroats 4-0 back on Aug. 25 and have lost only once, 1-0 to American Falls Saturday in Buhl. The Wildcats also defeated Marsh Valley 4-1 and league foe Buhl 4-1 last week.
And the 3A Cutthroats will host the highly regarded 4A Twin Falls Bruins Friday, Sept. 18 at 4:30 p.m. Twin Falls (6-2-2, 3-1-0 Great Basin) won 13-0 over Canyon Ridge Saturday in Twin Falls and then dropped a 2-0 home game to Wood River.
Cutthroat boys don't play Saturday
Lack of referees caused the cancellation of Saturday's non-conference boys' varsity game between the Canyon Ridge Riverhawks (1-5-3, 0-0-2 league) and Community School Cutthroats (2-4-1, 1-3-1 league), at Browning Field.
Coach Richard Whitelaw was seeking his 200th victory on the Cutthroat bench Tuesday when his team traveled to Declo (1-6-0, 1-4-0). On Thursday, Sept. 17 at 6 p.m., the Cutthroats will entertain Filer (0-7-1) in another High Desert Soccer Conference contest. On Friday, Whitelaw's team goes to Twin Falls.