Focused from the opening serve, the Wood River High School volleyball team earned a chance to play for a State 4A tournament berth with a clutch victory Thursday at the Hailey high school gym.
No. 3-seeded Wood River (23-17) looked sharp in beating the No. 4-seeded Jerome Tigers 25-12, 27-25, 25-22 for third place in the Great Basin Conference tourney. The Wolverines advanced into a state play-in match Saturday.
Coach Tim Richards’ Wolverines turned around Saturday and played Boise-area third-place Kuna in a state play-in match at Mountain Home. And Kuna ended Wood River’s season with a 25-14, 25-22, 25-20 victory.
Richards said, “The girls showed great improvement and battled hard in every match they played. We had some great wins against the larger 5A schools.”
Thursday’s match with Jerome was the highlight of the week. Leading the big win were senior Haley Cutler (13 kills, 1 block) and sophomore McKenzie Garrison (9 kills).
Freshman Blair Radford (6 kills), sophomore Michelle Mason (4 kills, 1 block), junior Liz Forsling (3 kills), senior Brittney Bradley (3 kills, 1 block) and senior Ashley Hicks (3 kills) chipped into the 41-kill attack.
The Wolverines asserted themselves early at the net with Garrison pounding 5 kills in the first game.
Cutler (9 service winners, 3 aces) served five straight winners taking the Wolverines from a 7-4 lead to a comfortable 12-4 cushion. The Tigers never put more than two points together in the first game.
Jerome found its footing in the second, rallying from 12-6 and 18-12 deficits and tying it 24-24 on block by senior Stormi Reynolds (9 kills, 3 blocks). A Reynolds tip made it 25-24 Jerome, but Cutler and Garrison put clutch winners on the floor. Bradley (10 service winners) dished out her only ace to win it for the 27-25 triumph.
The Tigers came out in the third game with more oomph in their serves and surged on top 6-2 and 11-9 behind the kills of Reynolds.
But the Wolverines ran off four straight points for a 13-11 lead and went ahead 20-14 on a pair of baffling Cutler service aces. Jerome regrouped—senior Kassidy Giles serving two aces of her own—and the Tigers cut their deficit to 23-22 before running out of gas.
Senior Ciceley Peavey (24 digs) stabilized the defense and set the offense in motion. She had 10 service winners. Bradley (17 assists) put the ball in the right place for her hitters. Forsling (4), Mason (4) and Radford (3) were productive at the serving stripe.
Jerome contributors included junior Courtney Argyle (5 kills), senior Shelby Fitzgerald (4 kills, 5 service winners, 1 ace), Giles (3 kills), senior Hannah Leavitt (6 service winners) and junior Taylor Harrison (6 service winners).
Against Kuna on Saturday, leaders were Cutler (7 kills), Forsling and Radford (5 kills each), Bradley (18 assists) and Peavey (24 digs). Richards said, “All 12 of our players contributed in the match.”
The No. 1-seeded Twin Falls Bruins captured their sixth consecutive GBC tournament title in four games over the No. 2 Canyon Ridge Riverhawks on Thursday night at Twin Falls High School.