TWIN FALLS • Successful teams have strong leaders and the importance of this role is evident in sports. When a team is having a successful season, building on that success is a top priority.
Both Richfield volleyball coach Max Piper and Lighthouse Christian coach Tobie Helman are stellar at what they do. But for Piper, it doesn’t hurt that he starts five seniors. He knows the importance of the experienced players on the team and how it will help them in the present and the long run.
“The senior group pushes each other and the younger ones,” says Piper.” The girls knew they had to improve as seniors so they have worked harder at practice and the extra little things they are doing are paying off.”
Coming into the Lighthouse Christian gym, Piper and his team had to keep their intensity and never die attitude. All the pre-match work paid off as the Tigers defeated the Lions 25-14, 25-23, 28-26. With the match win, Richfield improved to 9-0 overall and 7-0 in the North Side Conference.
Piper’s philosophy is to be successful, which takes good passing and serving; offense doesn’t work without good defense and footwork.
April Wood is entering her fourth year on the team and said she can already see how this team feeds off each other’s energy.
“Max keeps it fun and positive,” said Wood, who had 12 kills in the match. ”Playing with this group is great because we all know one another and trust each other so well.”
Wood prefers offense to defense because she likes the aggressive side of offense and killer spikes.
“Being shorter at 5-foot-6, you have to learn how to play smarter and push yourself to play and compete with the big girls.”
Wood is a believer in the strong defense resulting in a successful offense. Richfield as a team was strong on the defensive side of the net with 12 blocks and the leader on offense for the Tigers was senior Brittney Buckner with 13 kills.
Helman, on the other hand, has been dealt the younger hand, starting just one senior, one junior, three sophomores and a freshman.
“We are improving at our fundamentals and are becoming more disciplined,” said Helman. “And we are making fewer errors. Tonight we did things well and the girls did some of the things that we targeted. As a team, we are playing with more strategy. Sometimes we are still hesitating due to our lack of knowing how to read the game.”
Helman knew it would be a battle with Richfield.
“Max is a smart coach and he knows the game. He works his player hard so they know what to expect. We had some good hits and they read them well. It is hard to find any weakness with them.”
Junior Jessica Lund recorded a team-high 12 kills and sophomore Savanah Wolters had 11 for the Lions. Sophomore setter Sabrina DeJong dished out 23 assists and sophomore Chloe Gomez led the defense with 10 digs.
Richfield hosts Hansen on Thursday and Lighthouse Christian (4-5, 1-1) travels to Camas County.