POST FALLS — Kennedi Evans struggled to explain the feeling. One one hand, there was pain — Evans and the Twin Falls High School volleyball lost the 4A state title match. On the other hand, the Bruins made history.
Twin Falls was swept by defending state champion Skyview in the title match Saturday at Post Falls High School. The sting of the loss was neutralized by the weight of the accomplishment. The Bruins reached their first state title match in program history.
“We have a lot of seniors on the team, and we’ve all played for four years,” Evans said over the phone. “It was a little bit devastating for us that we won’t have another chance to compete for a state title, but we were happy with how we played.”
Evans was one of six seniors on Twin Falls’ roster. As freshmen, those seniors took fourth place at the 4A state tournament after losing to Skyview. The Bruins advanced one more round the next two years, but their hopes of finally reaching a title match were dashed by Skyview in 2015 and Idaho Falls in 2016.
This weekend, unlike the preview state tournaments, Twin Falls won its first two matches to reach the semifinals. Skyview also cruised to the semis, and it swept the Bruins on Saturday morning to reach the title match.
Twin Falls’ Great Basin Conference rival Burley was on the other side of the bracket. The Bobcats were swept by Skyview in the first round, but they beat Bishop Kelly and Moscow on Friday, then Middleton on Saturday, to keep their title hopes breathing.
The Bruins’ loss to Skyview set up their sixth match of the season against Burley.
The Bobcats battled, especially in a crazy second set, but they fell to the Bruins for the sixth time this fall. Twin Falls won 25-10, 36-34, 20-25, 24-26.
“We were right there with them a lot of time,” Burley coach Stephanie Shirley said via phone. “Could’ve gone either way in a lot of those sets and even matches. But that’s part of the game.”
Shirley said last year was the first time Burley reached state in 15 years. She’s not sure where this third-place finish ranks all-time, but it’s right there among the best in program history.
“Every one of the girls on the team played their hearts out,” Shirley said. “Every girl on their team played their role. Even the girls who weren’t playing were encouraging and positive.”
In the two matches on Saturday combined, Kennedee Tracy had 29 kills and 20 digs, Ashley Shirley had 18 kills and 20 digs, Makayla Tolman had 23 kills and eight kills, Alex Hutchinson had 32 digs and Jayli Searle had 18 digs and 59 assists for Burley.
The Idaho High School Activities Association has records dating back to 1985, and none of them show Twin Falls in the state volleyball title match. Twin Falls’ coaching staff confirmed that the Bruins hadn’t reached the championship match in any season before 1985, Evans said.
The Bruins went into the Skyview match with at least some grasp of their feat.
“It was probably in the back of our minds,” Evans said. “But we all wanted the championship win.”
Twin Falls contended with Skyview for most of the first set, but the Hawks pulled away for 25-19 win. That was as close as the Bruins would get.
Skyview won the final two sets 25-14 and 25-15 to complete a perfect season and a perfect tournament. The Hawks finished with a 21-0 overall record, and they swept all four state matches.
Evans was happy with how her team competed against the District 3 juggernaut. And she’ll cherish her history-making senior season.
“We didn’t quite reach our ultimate goal, but we all played with heart in the last game,” she said. “It was definitely a good ride.”