TWIN FALLS — For half a set, the rivalry atmosphere at Canyon Ridge High School was palpable.
Then Twin Falls sucked the air out of the gym.
The Twin Falls volleyball team cruised to a 25-14, 25-8, 25-16 win over rival Canyon Ridge Wednesday night to remain undefeated in Great Basin Conference play. After an up-and-down start, the Bruins overwhelmed.
“We look forward to this game all year,” Twin Falls senior Tori Edwards said. “We come in with high energy. They give us their best, and we’ll give them our best.”
The Riverhawks have enjoyed some strong seasons in their short history, including three straight 4A state tournament appearances from 2013 to 2015. But they haven’t beaten Twin Falls.
That winless record is not unreasonable. Twin Falls has been a volleyball juggernaut that has reached the state tournament in all eight years of Canyon Ridge’s existence.
This year’s Bruins look capable of landing Twin Falls its first ever state volleyball title.
The Bruins have six seniors and one sophomore (Claire Hodge) listed on their varsity roster. Senior setter Kylie Baumert, who missed the beginning of the season due to an arm injury, looked healthy as she dished out assists to her powerful hitters throughout Wednesday’s match.
Canyon Ridge has just two seniors (Madalyn Hatch and Taylor Huddelston), along with two sophomores and a freshman.
These two rivals were in different stages entering their first matchup of the season Wednesday. But that wasn’t clear early on.
The Riverhawks cut an 11-5 deficit to 11-10 in the first set. Twin Falls built a 16-12 lead that prompted Canyon Ridge coach Michelle Glass to call a timeout, but the match still looked up for grabs.
Perhaps Glass sensed something, because the Bruins cruised on the wave of a 12-2 run.
“You get everybody’s best shot. Everybody wants to come out and beat you,” Twin Falls 12th-year coach B.J. Price said. “They came out really tough, and the girls responded well.”
In the second set, Twin Falls used an 11-0 run to build a 16-2 lead and take the set easily.
The third set was close early, but another run extinguished the tinge of life left in the crowd.
Price credited serving as a spark that lifted the Bruins up from their sluggish start.
“As you get up to the state level and play some really good teams, serving becomes really, really important,” Price said. “It sets up everything else that we do.”
Edwards was maybe the most important driver of the first set rally, as well as the second and third set dominance. The senior outside/middle hitter mixed in a bundle of thunderous kills with devastating aces.
“She’s placing them just like a pitcher,” Price said of Edwards’ aces. “She did a great job tonight.”
Hudelston had four kills, sophomore Alexsis Jones had 15 assists and Kelbie sophomore Standley finished with eight digs for the Riverhawks (1-4 in conference), who host Minico on Wednesday.
Twin Falls (5-0) heads to Idaho Falls for the Bonneville Classic, which runs from Friday to Saturday.