The end of the high school volleyball season is right around the corner, and with it comes the state tournament, which is being held in the north part of the state this year. Seven Magic Valley teams made the cut across four different classes. Here is a rundown of who made it and what their path is to take home a title when the tournament begins Friday.
Two teams from the Great Basin Ten — Wood River and Burley — made the field in Class 4A. Wood River did so by taking the second seed from Districts IV and V after a loss to Century in the conference championship. Burley lost to Wood River in the second round before sweeping Preston and Pocatello to earn a spot in the state play-in game, where they outlasted Bishop Kelly in five sets.
Burley made the state tournament last year before losing in the consolation bracket, and the Bobcats have plenty of experience back from that squad. Makayla Tolman, the reigning Times-News volleyball player of the year, continues to play at a high level and racked up 33 kills, 23 digs and four blocks in the play-in win on Saturday. Wood River is also an experienced team with seven seniors, led by outside hitters Emily Vandenberg and Sariah Nilsen.
The Bobcats and the Wolverines are on opposite sides of the bracket, so they would not have a potential matchup until deep into the tournament. Burley plays Bonneville, the top seed from District VI, and Wood River gets Lakeland, the top seed from Districts I and II. The 4A matches are at Coeur d’Alene High School.
Filer and Gooding both made the 3A tournament, but both took different routes to get there.
Filer, the defending state champion, has most of its team back from last season and won the SCIC to take District IV’s top spot. The Wildcats have a potent mix of youth and experience, including seniors Kelsie Snyder, Gracie Robinson and Halle Knight leading the way. Top hitter Ella Fischer is just a junior, and Alexis Monson, a versatile player, is just a sophomore.
Gooding, the second seed from the district, survived a five-set match against South Fremont to make it to the state tournament field. The Senators will have to go though Fruitland, the top seed from District III, and potentially powerhouse Sugar-Salem, early on in its tournament run.
Filer plays Weiser in its first game. The 3A teams will play at Lake City High School.
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Class 1A Division I
The Magic Valley’s only representative in this class, Valley, will be moving to 2A next year and leaving the Snake River Conference. But the Vikings made sure to get their money’s worth of playing in the conference in their final district tournament in the foreseeable future.
The Vikings lost to Raft River in five sets, beat Shoshone to stay alive in the tournament, then had to beat Raft River twice the next day to win the district title. They beat the Trojans in five sets in the first game, then trailed 24-16 in the third set of the second game before rattling off 10 straight points to take a decisive advantage and eventually come away with the win.
“Confidence is key with this team,” Valley coach Katie Clark said after the Oct. 22 match. “They don’t play well when they don’t have confidence. They’ve got to have the drive and communication and everything to come together and be a team.”
Valley will play Genesee in round one at Lapwai High School.
Class 1A Division II
The Sawtooth Conference produced Lighthouse Christian and Castleford for the state tournament. The two teams played each other in the championship match of the district tournament, with Lighthouse getting the four-set win.
The Lions have been one of the state’s top teams the whole season, but Castleford pushed them hard in the district tournament. Both teams could make some noise at state.
Lighthouse will play Tri-Valley on Friday, and Castleford will get Salmon River. Class 1A Division II will play its matches at Lewiston High School.