TWIN FALLS — Few Great Basin Conference volleyball teams win a set against Twin Falls. Even fewer take the Bruins to five sets.
Burley overcame those odds and nearly upset Twin Falls Wednesday night at Twin Falls High School. The Bruins (6-0 in conference) prevailed 21-25, 25-19, 18-25, 25-15, 15-9, but the Bobcats (4-2) showed they can compete with the perennial conference powerhouse.
“I was proud of them and how hard they played,” Burley coach Stephanie Shirley said.
In last year’s Great Basin Conference championship, Burley beat Twin Falls 25-21 in the first set. It was the Bruins’ first, and only, set loss in conference that season.
Going into Thursday, Twin Falls had won all 15 sets against conference foes, including Burley. The Bruins beat the Bobcats 25-17, 25-23, 25-22 in Burley on September 5.
That match, albeit a sweep, proved Burley could play with Twin Falls. Thursday’s match added evidence.
Just like the 2016 district title match, Burley took the first set 25-21.
After a 6-1 Burley lead to start the opening set, Twin Falls rallied late to cut the deficit to 21-20. But the Bobcats held on.
The Bruins pulled away in the middle of the second set, but a late 6-0 run from Burley cut the deficit to 23-19 and forced Twin Falls to call a timeout. It was a sign of the competitiveness to come, and proof that the first set was no fluke.
Twin Falls took a 6-2 lead in the third set, but Burley answered with a 4-0 run. The Bruins clung to a 15-13 lead that was quickly snatched away. A 7-0 run gave the Bobcats a lead they wouldn’t relinquish.
Burley was one set away from an upset victory, but Shirley by no means thought the match was won.
“I never think that with Twin Falls,” Shirley said with a laugh. “We have to play every point.”
Twin Falls used a 7-0 run of its own to turn a 13-12 lead to 20-12 in the fourth set. The Bruins rolled to force a winner-take-all fifth.
“We knew Burley was one of the better ones in our conference,” Twin Falls senior Kennedi Evans said. “We came prepared and ready to play.”
The fifth set was tight at the start, but Twin Falls used a 6-0 run to take a 10-4 lead, and the win was never in jeopardy after that.
Evans, who was devastating all night, provided the match-clinching kill.
“It’s always fun to get the last ball and put it away,” Evans said. “Make a statement.”
For Burley, Makayla Tolman had 17 kills and three blocks, Kennedee Tracy had 16 kills and 16 digs and Ashley Shirley had 12 kills and 17 digs. Jayli Searle also had 38 assists and 17 digs, and Alex Hutchinson recorded 16 digs.