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Produced & Maintained by Idaho Mountain Express, Box 1013, Ketchum, ID 83340-1013 
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Copyright © 2003 Express Publishing Inc.
All Rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of Express Publishing Inc. is prohibited. 

For the week of August 20 - 26, 2003


WRHS volleyball has a nucleus of success

Seniors critical to Hailey’s 2003 season

In its final season playing in the Sawtooth Central Idaho Conference (SCIC), the Wood River High School varsity volleyball team will strive to return to a familiar destination—the State 3A tournament.

Wood River will move up to the bigger-school 4A ranks in 2004, presumably making it harder to make state, so the Wolverines of second-year coach Tim Richards will try to take care of business in 2003.

And "business" has been incredibly successful for Wood River on the volleyball court.

Last October Wood River won its third consecutive SCIC tournament title and eighth championship in nine years. The Hailey team has captured 18 district titles and 18 state tournament trips since 1977.

Richards guided Wood River to a 21-15 record last fall and a 1-2 record in the State 3A tournament. The Wolverines beat Bonners Ferry but exited with a four-game loss to eventual runner-up Shelley. Preston won last year’s 3A tourney.

This year, Wood River has a strong nucleus of returning players led by last fall’s SCIC "Coach of the Year" Richards.

"We have four or five seniors we know will be on the floor all the time," said Richards. "Everybody seems to have high expectations for them, for one reason because our volleyball program is always at such a high level.

"But our theme of the year is this: The destination doesn’t count as much as the journey. We want to focus on attitude and coming together as a team. As a coach, I want to focus on developing complete players."

One of Hailey’s strengths is the versatility of its players, Richards said.

"Besides trying to have the girls in the best possible condition, we’re trying to have them play multiple positions," he said. "We run a 6-2 offense, but I like to joke that we run a 6-6—with six setters and six hitters at all times.

"We’ll also work hard on team defense and focus on what the girls are doing when they don’t have the ball, for instance, are you ready to cover a dink or a block when you’re out there?

"Most of all, we’ll try to have fun."

Wood River graduated three seniors including setter Whitney Richards, who is trying out for college volleyball in Alabama. All-Conference player Richards was the team’s Most Inspirational Player in 2002.

One of her father’s jobs as Wolverine coach this fall is replacing Whitney as setter. In the pre-season prognosis, that area of setting was one of Wood River’s big question marks.

Wood River’s tri-captains are seniors Charli Lindley, Jessica King and Liz Rippon. Another senior key to Hailey’s hopes is Natalie Green.

Two other probable starters are juniors Syringa Stark and Rachael Richards. Coach Richards said at least three sophomores are competing for varsity berths this fall.

Richards said, "Charli, Jessie and Syringa have all improved in their hitting. Charli and Jessie can play with anybody in the league, and Liz can pass with anybody."

The returning coaching staff features Richards, junior varsity coach Gary Carr and freshman coach Dena Brunker. A roving coach will be Xavier Beltran from California.

Regarding the Sawtooth Central Idaho Conference, Richards expects a dogfight—despite the fact that SCIC third-place Buhl graduated a top player in Sherry King and district tourney runner-up Filer graduated Christina Brown.

He said, "Filer has some strong players, Buhl has a good nucleus, Declo has good seniors, Gooding is scrappy as all get-out and Kimberly kids have dedicated themselves and gone to camps. It should be good."

Rally scoring will continue.

All varsity matches will be best three-of-five games. Games will be played to 25 points, win by two points, with a 30-point cap. The fifth and deciding game is played to 15 points, with no cap. There are 18 substitutions, and no Libero.

And, a "let" serve is in play.



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