It's still August, which means Blaine County high school volleyball teams are still smoothing out the rough edges of setting, serving and putting down winners in the early stages of their 2011 campaigns.
Sending an extremely young team onto the court, the Wood River High School volleyball team will be challenged to return to the State 4A tournament for the first time since 2009—especially with the Great Basin Conference getting only one automatic state berth.
"Our focus this year is on team defense," said 10th-year Wood River coach Tim Richards (193-138). He is likely to reach the 200-win coaching milestone in September. Wood River will rely on seven juniors and three sophomores plus several freshmen this season.
Co-captains and Wood River' best all-around players are juniors Lily Richards and Kori Paradis. Sophomores Mary Petzke and Sadie Dawson are likely to start, and so will junior Sydney Tidwell. A valued newcomer is hustling sophomore libero Mercedes Powell, a major contributor to the softball team this past spring.
"Mercedes is only 5-4, but she can cover the court and isn't afraid to get on the floor. For us, with our focus on team defense, libero is a very important position," said Richards. "We don't have a true setter, but I'm excited about our ninth-graders coming up."
Wood River (16-17 last season) placed third in last year's Great Basin Conference tournament and missed the school's 23rd state tournament trip. The Wolverines graduated five seniors including All-Great Basin second teamers Jessica Hamilton, Ali Levy and Jade Glenn.
The Jerome Tigers, led by GBC "Coach of the Year" Hannah Clark, return many players and are the league favorites ahead of reigning league champion Twin Falls, who lost six seniors for coach B.J. Price. But Richards feels the entire league has improved, making Wood River's task even harder.
"I like to be competitive every year," said Richards.
Wood River debuted Tuesday night against Buhl and Filer, and will host Canyon Ridge of Twin Falls in the home opener Thursday, Sept. 8.
With two-time defending State 1A Division 2 champion Camas County of Fairfield and the Dietrich Blue Devils still powerful in the eight-team league, the other six teams will likely be fighting it out for the third and final state berth from the Northside this fall.
Camas still has the best player among all Gem State small schools, senior hitter Katelyn Peterson, and Dietrich coach Traci Perron is loaded with returners like Moriah Dill, Jessica Perron and Charley Bingham from last year's state consolation champions.
Dietrich took care of Carey 25-14, 25-18, 25-16 and Hansen in three games during last Thursday's season opening triangular meet at Dietrich. The Carey Panthers (5-15 last season) also lost to Hansen in that meet.
Coach Kathy Whitworth's Carey varsity has seven seniors led by Micaela Adamson.
Last Thursday, coach Kristyn Rutland's Community School Cutthroats (2-15 last fall) opened the season with a 20-25, 27-25, 25-8, 25-12 home loss to the Murtaugh Red Devils at the Fish Tank in Sun Valley.
Seniors Sophia Carkonen (10 kills) and Meredith Pintler (6 kills, 2 blocks, 8 winning serves with 2 aces) led the Cutthroats, who struggled with serve-receive and defense. Senior Barrett Brown (8 serves, 4 aces) pitched in, and freshman setter Moyo Tian passed well.
Here are the 2011 rosters for the Blaine County squads:
WOOD RIVER HIGH
Head coach—Tim Richards (10th year, 193-138). Assistant coaches—Jessica King and Nate Kirk.
Senior (1)—Karola Huaire (defensive specialist/setter).
Juniors (7)—Lily Richards (5-9 outside hitter/setter); Kori Paradis (5-11 middle blocker); Sydney Tidwell (5-11 middle blocker/right side); Alison Gasenica (setter); Miranda Gasenica (setter); Taylor Bernston (middle blocker); and Madi Hendrix (5-10 outside hitter).
Sophomores (3)—Mary Petzke (right side), Sadie Dawson (right side) and Mercedes Powell (libero).
Head coach—Anna Edwards.
Juniors (2)—Nicole Pratt and Rachel Conover.
Sophomores (6)—Cassidy Cooper, Shelby Cooper, Gisel Guzman, Lauren Jacobs, Courtney Lecrone and Sami Rodriguez.
Freshmen (3)—Brittney Bradley, Hayley Cutler and Ashley Hicks.
Head coach—Jessica King.
Players (11)—Taylor Bosch, Sarah Carty, Megan Lube, Raylin Lyons, Rachael Malone, Valeria Morse, Ciceley Peavey, Haylee Pettit, Emma Poe, Lacy Harrington and Sami Goitiandia.
Head coach—Kathy Whitworth (8th year). Assistant coach—Dick Simpson.
Seniors (7)—Sarah Purdy, Nicole Gomez, Taylor Castle, Kelly Patterson, Micaela Adamson, Erika Zarate and Darby Northcott.
Juniors (4)—Jaide Parke, Angelica Zarate, Morgan Parke and McKayla Mecham.
Sophomores (3)—Ashley Durtschi, Daphne Kirkland and Valerie Olsen.
Freshmen (4)—Paige Koudelka, Carissa Christensen, Natalie Villanueva and Kylie Castle.
Head coach—Kristyn Rutland (2nd year). Assistant coach—Erika Hanson.
Seniors (4)—Meredith Pintler (5-9 middle blocker), Morgan Roudabush (5-8 outside hitter), Sophia Carkonen (6-1 middle blocker) and Barrett Brown (5-6 outside hitter).
Sophomores (2)—Jolie Blair (5-6 opposite) and Isabel Kirk (5-3 opposite/defensive specialist.
Freshmen (3)—Madison Milgard (5-8 outside hitter/right side), Moyo Tian (5-5 setter/outside hitter) and Emily Ehret (5-6 outside hitter).
2011 WRHS Volleyball
A total 13 regular-season matches for the 2011 Wolverine varsity, 5 home and 8 away, plus 3 regular-season varsity tournaments. All home matches at Wood River High School gym, Hailey. General admission $5. Wood River's home varsity matches are in bold. District 4 matches are marked with an asterisk (*). Also scheduled are the WRHS junior varsity (12 matches plus 2 tournaments) and freshman team (12 matches plus 2 tournaments).
Varsity, junior varsity, freshmen
DATE, DAY OPPONENT LOCATION
Aug. 30, Tuesday Buhl/Filer tri-match (9th/JV/V) Filer, 4/5/6
Sept. 2, Friday Highland Peg Peterson Invitational (V) Pocatello, 3:30
Sept. 3, Saturday Highland Peg Peterson Invitational (V) Pocatello, 8:00
Sept. 6, Tuesday Burley* (9th/JV/V) Away, 6/7:30
Sept. 8, Thursday Canyon Ridge* (9th/JV/V) Home, 6/7:30
Sept. 10, Saturday WR JV Tournament (9th/JV) Hailey, 8:30
Sept. 14, Wednesday Twin Falls* (9th/JV/V) Away, 6/7:30
Sept. 16, Friday 31st annual WR Invitational (V) Hailey, 4:30
Sept. 17, Saturday 31st annual WR Invitational (V) Hailey, 8:30
Sept. 20, Tuesday Jerome* (9th/JV/V) Home, 6/7:30
Sept. 22, Thursday Minico* (9th/JV/V) Rupert, 6/7:30
Sept. 27, Tuesday Canyon Ridge*/Filer (9th/JV/V) Twin Falls, 6/7:30
Oct. 1, Saturday Buhl JV Invitational (JV) Buhl High School, 8:30
Oct. 1, Saturday Filer 9th grade tournament (9th) Filer, 8:30
Oct. 4, Tuesday Burley* (9th/JV/V) Home, 6/7:30
Oct. 6, Thursday Twin Falls* (9th/JV/V) Home, 6/7:30
Oct. 7, Friday Mountain View Invitational (V) Meridian, 3:00
Oct. 8, Saturday Mountain View Invitational (V) Meridian, 9:00
Oct. 11, Tuesday Jerome* (9th/JV/V) Away, 6/7:30
Oct. 13, Thursday Minico* (9th/JV/V)—Sr. Night Home, 6/7:30
Oct. 17, Monday Great Basin 4th District tournament Highest seed
Oct. 18, Tuesday Great Basin 4th District tournament Highest seed
Oct. 20, Thursday District 4 tournament completion Highest seed
Oct. 22, Saturday State 4A play-in match Mt. Home/Gooding, 5:00
Oct. 28 Friday State 4A Post Falls High School
Oct. 29, Saturday State 4A Post Falls High School
NOTES—The Great Basin 4A District 4 gets 1.5 berths in the 8-school State 4A tournament Oct. 28-29 at Post Falls. The GBC tournament champion automatically qualifies for state, while the second-place team meets the 3rd District third-place team in the Oct. 22 state play-in match for another state berth.......In opening-round state match-ups Oct. 28 at Post Falls, the Great Basin champion plays the 3rd District champion (Bishop Kelly, Caldwell, Columbia, Emmett, Kuna, Middleton, Mountain Home, Nampa, Skyview) and the winner of the Oct. 22 state play-in meets the 6th District champion (Blackfoot, Bonneville, Hillcrest, Madison, Rigby, Shelley).