After winning four matches during last weekend’s Bonneville-Hillcrest Classic tournament, the Wood River High School volleyball team hosted the tough Canyon Ridge Riverhawks Tuesday, Sept. 30 on the Hailey hardwoods.
Canyon Ridge (13-4, 5-1 league) bounced back from its 25-23, 25-23, 25-23 loss to league-leading Twin Falls Sept. 23 and swept the Burley Bobcats for the second time this season last Thursday.
Wood River (14-9, 3-2) lost at Canyon Ridge in three games Sept. 11 and also fell to the Riverhawks 25-19, 25-21 in the Silver Division championship of the Peg Peterson tourney Sept. 6 in Pocatello.
Coach Tim Richards of Wood River said his team gained valuable experience from last weekend’s two-day tournament in Idaho Falls.
He said, “Our mix of young and older players, with three sophomore starters, showed some good mental toughness by battling from behind several times in our matches.”
Wood River won four of its seven matches at Idaho Falls.
Friday, Highland outplayed Wood River 25-13, 25-16 in its first match on the way to the Gold Division title match. Richards said, “Highland is a good hitting team. They went undefeated in the tournament before losing to Century.”
Coaches at the mid-season tournament were impressed with the athleticism of the Fruitland Grizzlies, the only 3A team to qualify for the Gold Division single elimination tournament on Saturday. Fruitland, the 2012 State 3A champion, placed fourth in last year’s 3A state meet.
Fruitland beat Wood River 25-10, 25-16 in Hailey’s next match.
Coach Richards changed his team’s rotation for Friday’s final match and the results were positive, with a 25-15, 25-10 victory over 5A Skyline of Idaho Falls. “We sometimes get stuck in certain rotations, so we changed our lineup and regrouped, deciding to focus on some basic fundamentals,” he said.
Wood River played some of its best volleyball of the season Saturday morning—reeling off three straight match wins. They were 25-22, 25-20 over 5A Mountain View of Meridian, 25-21, 25-14 over Skyline and 25-22, 25-27, 15-13 over Sugar-Salem of Sugar City.
“It was a pressure-packed three-set victory over Sugar-Salem,” said Richards. “We led 24-21 in the second set with three swings for the win, and lost 27-25. In the third set we were down 6-2 and came back to win 15-13 with the final kill delivered by captain Haley Cutler.”
Sugar-Salem, three-time state champion from 2006-08, was a formidable 3A program, having placed third over Fruitland in last year’s State 3A tournament.
Having qualified for the Silver Division single elimination tournament, Wood River faced a tough Rocky Mountain team that placed third in last year’s State 5A tournament and won the 5A title in 2010. Rocky Mountain overpowered Wood River 25-19, 25-14.
Senior Haley Cutler (40 kills) and sophomore Blair Radford (31 kills) led Wood River in hitting at Idaho Falls. Senior libero Ciceley Peavey (56 digs) and senior setter Brittney Bradley (76 assists) led the defense and offense, respectively.
Richards said, “All of the team members contributed this weekend. The team really demonstrated some excellent play. An ever-improving Giselle Andrade added six special kills and five stuff blocks for some important points.”
Winner of the Gold Division bracket in the 20-team tournament was Century High School of Pocatello, the four-time defending State 4A volleyball tournament champion.
Century defeated Highland of Pocatello 25-15, 25-22 in the championship match, shortly after Highland handed Bonneville of Idaho Falls (22-2) its first Gem State loss of the season in the semi-final 25-23, 25-18. Highland was seeking its third tournament win of 2014.
Wood River travels to the Borah Invitational tournament in Boise Friday and Saturday, Oct. 3-4.