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2021 Volleyball Preview
We tackle the best volleyball teams from 5A all the way down to 1A D2.
Published: 8/18/2021 3:33:44 PM
Brandon Baney
Content Manager/Broadcaster
brandon@idahosports.com
 

As Idaho high school volleyball teams across the state prepare for their season debuts, here is a breakdown by classification level of the volleyball landscape.

Class 5A

After back-to-back Class 4A titles in 2016 and ’17, the Skyview Hawks needed an adjustment period after being promoted to the 5A level.  2020 was the year everything came together at Skyview, as the Hawks captured the third state title in program history with a thrilling championship win over Southern Idaho Conference Rival Boise in a match that went all five sets.

Skyview is loaded for bear again in 2021, as they return the SIC Player of the Year in senior outside hitter Eden Bower, along with sophomores Alex Bower at setter and Melissa Eyer at libero.  Both earned All-SIC accolades as freshmen a year ago, which means Skyview’s position at the top could last a while.

As for the 5A runner-up from a year ago, Boise will have a more difficult path back to the 5A title game.  A tremendously talented senior class graduated in the offseason.  How the Brave replace departed leaders like Katie Black, Kellan Hayes, Katy Cooper, Yale Spoja and Allison Ross will be one of the most intriguing questions this season.

So if Boise is in a potential rebuild, who else in the SIC could emerge as a threat in 2021?  Look no further than Mountain View.  The Mavericks went two-and-out at state a year ago, but return one of the best all-around female athletes in Class 5A (senior Naya Ojukwu).  She’ll be joined by returning all-league performers Sierra Grizzle at outside hitter and Emmy Green at libero.

Eagle is another SIC squad that could be poised to take a step forward in 2021.  The Mustangs fell to Madison in last year’s consolation final, and return seniors Tara Murphy and Gabbi Roberts at outside hitter and setter, respectively.

Timberline was the fifth SIC squad that qualified for state a year ago.  The Wolves took home fourth place, but lost All-State performers Megan Schulte and Morgan Lamb to graduation.

One final sleeper to watch out for in the SIC is Centennial.  The Patriots didn’t qualify for state last year, but return All-SIC performers London Ipsen and Abby Draghici.

Coeur d’Alene had the best finish among non-SIC squads a year ago, as the Vikings took home the third place trophy from state.  Sarah Wilkey was named the Inland Empire League Player of the Year, and was joined on the All-IEL team by Lauren Phillips.  Unfortunately, both of those players graduated, which has left the door cracked open for crosstown rival Lake City to charge through.

The Timberwolves lost libero Jaya Miller, the IEL Defensive Player of the Year, to graduation, but welcome back senior setter Nellie Reese and senior outside hitter Hanah Stoddard.

Post Falls sophomore Kylie Munday was the IEL Newcomer of the Year after seeing significant playing time in her freshman year, and Lewiston is paced by junior middle blocker Katy Wessels.

In District 5-6, Madison won the league title a year ago, and won the consolation final at state as well.  The league appears to be Madison’s to lose in 2021.  Of the 18 All-Conference selections from District 5-6 a year ago, 14 of them graduated this spring.  Madison will be led by senior middle blocker Beth Hunt and sophomore setter Kinley Kerbs.  The only other returning All-Conference players are Sydney Hess of Idaho Falls and Kendel Hone of Thunder Ridge.


Class 4A

Everything came together for the Lakeland Hawks in 2021, as a talented group won the first state volleyball title in school history with a three-game sweep of Middleton in the state championship match.  The bad news: Lakeland lost some talented players to graduation, including Inland Empire League Player of the Year Katy Ryan and IEL Defensive Player of the Year Olivia Cooper.  The good news: Lakeland is favored to win the IEL again, behind the strength of senior outside hitter Addisen Kiefer.  Moscow, led by junior Morgan Claus, could push Lakeland up north, as well.

Middleton, the state runner-up a year ago, enters 2021 not only as a favorite in the Southern Idaho Conference, but a favorite in all of Class 4A.  Seniors Casidy Fried, Jensyn Maughan and Reesa Whitworth earned postseason honors a year ago, and will lead a program in search of their first state title since 2005.

Nampa was the other SIC squad to qualify for state a year ago.  The Bulldogs will be led by senior outside hitter Audrah Radford, a 1st Team All-State selection last year.

Outside of those two, plenty of challengers reside in the SIC as well.  Emmett, led by seniors Graycee Wilkerson and Raelee Welch, is one potential threat.  Columbia, paced by Mylie Mills, Maggie Mills, Trin Wiliams Sudan and Jeanice Gomez, is another.  Vallivue, featuring Brooke Garmen and Skylar Erickson, also presents problems.

In east Idaho, the Bonneville Bees are one of Idaho’s premier programs, year in and year out, with ten state championships under their belts.  After taking third at state a year ago, Bonneville appears strong once again in 2021.  Senior outside hitter Mia Sorensen will lead the Bees, and sophomores Kayle Kofe and Aspen Anderson both return after earning All-State honors as freshmen in 2020.

Lurking within their own conference, though, are the Shelley Russets.  Shelley went two-and-out at state last year, but welcomes back senior outside hitter Alexis Leckington, a 1st Team All-State selection in 2020.  Fellow senior outside hitter Caydence Taylor is back as well, and Brinley Cannon returns to the middle blocker position after holding down that spot as a freshman in 2020.

Burley finished fourth at state a year ago, and are the favorites in the Great Basin Conference again in 2021.  The Bobcats bring back senior All-State selections Natalie Hepworth and Sidney Searle.

Twin Falls won the consolation match at state in 2020, finishing in fifth place overall.  Several talented players departed via graduation, though senior All-State selection Brenley Hansen is back for another year.

Two teams that could break through from the Great Basin Conference in 2021 are Wood River and Minico.   The Wolverines welcome back four All-Conference selections (Samantha Chambers, Willa Laski, Charlie Loomis and Sophie Vandenberg).  Minico brings back three players who earned postseason recognition (Talin Stimpson, Megan Sanderson and Carlie Latta).

Preston represented the South East Idaho Conference at state last year, and advanced all the way to the consolation match before falling to Twin Falls.  The Indians return 2nd Team All-State selection Hailey Winward.  Should Preston slip in 2021, Century will be ready to pounce.  The Diamondbacks had eight sophomores suit up on the varsity squad in 2020, and their development could decide District 5 this year.


Class 3A

Death, taxes, and Sugar-Salem cleaning up at state.  These are the constants in life.  The Diggers have won nine championships in school history, including four of the last five.  Sugar-Salem breezed to another state title in 2020, sweeping Kimberly in the title match.

If that weren’t bad enough, Mardee Fillmore was the only senior on Sugar-Salem’s team.  Her presence at middle blocker will be missed, but the Diggers have an honorable mention All-State selection waiting in the wings in senior Natalyah Nead.  Outside hitter Katie Miller was named the Mountain River Conference Player of the Year in 2020, and she’ll be flanked by Kimberly Pannell.  Hailey Harris and Skyotlynd Barr will serve as setters, and Maycee Pocock returns as the libero.

If South Fremont were in any other conference besides the MRC, the Cougars would have a puncher’s chance.  South Fremont brings back seniors Josee Angell, Rylie Neville and Addi Hill return to lead the Cougars in 2021.  The only problem is they play in the same league as Sugar-Salem.

Kimberly, the 3A runner-up to Sugar-Salem, was hit hard by graduation.  All-Conference performers Emma Jensen, Alivia Schvaneveldt, Carlee Hardy and Katy Satterfield are all gone.  The Bulldogs will now have to rebuild around senior Sydney Kelsey, an All-State selection a year ago.

The good news for Kimberly is that every other team in the SIC lost talented players to graduation as well.  Filer won the conference tournament a year ago, but were knocked out by Parma in the opening round.  Filer rebounded to win the consolation final, and welcome back 1st Team All-State selection Alexis Monson.

Parma defeated Snake River Valley Conference rival Fruitland for third place at state last year.  The Panthers dead lose Brooke Johnson, Grace Jackson and Maggie Shaw to graduation, but SRV Co-Player of the Year Katie Compas is back.  So are seniors Sam Graham and Austyn Harris.

Just like Parma, Fruitland returns some pretty impressive talent in 2021.  Senior Chanlar O’Neil was the other SRV Co-Player of the Year, and leads a crew that includes Myah Gibb, Ava Dressen and Lexi Barnes.  Homedale, Payette and Weiser fielded younger squads last season, and could take the next step forward in 2021 as well.

Up north, Kellogg and Timberlake both represented the Intermountain League at state last year.  The Wildcats and Tigers are also the favorites in 2021.  Timberlake’s Brooke Jessen and Kellogg’s Hailey Cheney shared the IML Co-Player of the Year award last year.  Jessen left via graduation, while Cheney returns, which could be enough to give the slightest of edges to Kellogg.  Joining Cheney are returning All-Conference selections Gracie Nearing and Madison Cheney.  Timberlake will be led by seniors Jaycie Pratt and Samantha Wilfong.

American Falls enjoyed a banner year in 2020, winning the first district tournament title in school history over Snake River.  The Beavers were hit hard by graduation, losing Emma Barclay, Grace Barclay and Mitana Robinson.  American Falls is still the favorite in 2021, though, as they do return All-Conference performers Paige Adair and Zoie Grigg.  However, Marsh Valley and Snake River are lurking.  Each team had only two seniors on their varsity roster a year ago.  If those underclassmen develop quickly, American Falls’ time at the top could be short-lived.


Class 2A

Last year’s 2A title match featured a pair of rivals from District 5.  In a thrilling match that went all five sets, the West Side Pirates defeated the Bear Lake Bears 3-2.  The win gave West Side a touch of revenge, as Bear Lake had knocked off the Pirates a week earlier at the district tournament.

It’s no surprise then, that many fans around the state are viewing the southeast corner of Idaho as a volleyball hotbed in 2021.  The Pirates return All-State performers Jesse Mariscal at outside hitter and Madalyn Barzee at libero.  Bear Lake brings back 1st Team All-State outside hitter Kalisha Parker.

The third place match at state last year also featured two district rivals squaring off.  A week after Nampa Christian fell to Melba in the district championship game, the Trojans got revenge and the third place trophy in a 3-1 win over the Mustangs.

Nampa Christian returns a pair of All-State performers in seniors Alexandria Tinsley and Grace Reeve.  Melba will be paced by a pair of juniors, Keylee Wilson and Kendall Clark.  Almost every other team in the Western Idaho Conference brings back an all-conference performer, but lack the depth that Nampa Christian and Melba possess.  Returning all-conference players in the WIC include Carissa Smith of Ambrose, Ellie Fraas of Cole Valley Christian, MarDee Hall of Marsing, Jane Gibson of New Plymouth and Lilly Stoops of Vision Charter.

West Jefferson won the Nuclear Conference a year ago, and represented District 6 as the top seed at state.  The Panthers were taken out by Nampa Christian in the opening round, though, and had to fight back through the other side of the bracket to win the consolation final over Valley. 

West Jefferson is loaded again in 2021, as talented playmakers Cambree Hall, Lindsey Dalling, Jordyn Torgerson, Caroline Taylor and Jaylee Ball return.  They will be pushed by Firth, who went two-and-out at state last year.  The Cougars welcome back Addison Trent, Brooklyn Clayson, Rylee Nielson, Mallory Erickson and Daytona Folkman.

Two potential dark horses in the Nuclear Conference this year: North Fremont and Ririe.  North Fremont has five seniors back that earned all-league recognition (Mariya Hoffner, Kacie Anderson, Kimberlie Palmer, Graycee Litton and Sheylaci Gunnell), while Ririe had three sophomores and a freshman earn all-conference accolades a year ago.

Valley represented District 4 at state a year ago, but repeating that feat will be tough.  The Vikings do bring back 1st Team All-Conference selection Justyce Schultz, but Declo has four seniors returning this year.  Aryana Kahalioumi, Lucy Robins, Kamden Peterson and Ella Gibby all earned all-league honors a year ago.

Up north, St. Maries won the Central Idaho League in 2020, but must replace departed seniors Mackenzie Hammond, Sami Badgett and Jayden Martin.  Orofino lost the CIL Player of the Year, middle blocker Sydnie Zywina, to graduation as well.  Senior Abi Cook and junior Grace Beardin will try to replace Zywina in the middle.


CLASS 1A D1

The Grace Grizzlies dominated the 1A D1 circuit in 2020, rolling to the championship with a 3-0 sweep of Genesee in the title match.  And while Maniah Clegg’s presence in the middle will be missed, the Grizzlies do return 1st Team All-State selection and Conference Player of the Year Kylie Hulse.  The senior outside hitter will team up with fellow seniors Sara Anderson, Hallie Rigby and Jillian Smith.  Sophomore outside hitter Sydnee Smith is also back after earning 1st Team All-Conference honors a year ago.

Genesee, the runner-up at state in 2020, actually finished second at districts to Troy.  After a loss to eventual champ Grace in the semifinals, Troy rebounded to win the third place match over Oakley.  The Bulldogs and Trojans figure to be at the top of the White Pine League again in 2021.  Senior middle blocker Claira Osborne and junior setter Mackenzie Stout will lead Genesee.  Troy will rely on seniors Morgan Blazzard and Isabelle Raasch at outside hitter and setter, respectively.

Oakley ended up finishing fourth at state last year, despite losing to Lighthouse Christian at districts.  The Lions were knocked out by Troy in the opening round, but rebounded to win the consolation final and take home fifth place. 

Lighthouse Christian was hit hard by graduation, as Kynlee Thornton, Lauren Gomez, Ellie Boland and Ellie Jones all left via graduation.  They will need a pair of sophomores, Ella DeJong and Maddy Shetler, to develop quickly.

Oakley is in better shape.  The Hornets bring back senior Lacee Power and juniors Falon Bedke and Kylan Jones.  All three earned All-Conference honors a year ago.  A potential sleeper in District 4 could be Murtaugh.  The Devils will be led by senior Jessica Zavala and sophomore Ady Stanger.

Wallace represented District 1 at state a year ago, and finished sixth after losing to Lighthouse Christian in the consolation match.  The Miners bring back a lot of talent, including the Scenic Idaho Conference Player of the Year in Riley Valley.  Valley will team up with Elli Welch and Jayden House to give Wallace some excellent senior leadership.  Genesis Prep could be a sleeper in the SIC.  If junior Katie Plummer and sophomore Shayla Hill take another step forward, the Jaguars could challenge Wallace up north.

The Western Idaho Conference did not have a strong showing at state in 2020, as district champ Liberty Charter and runner-up North Star both went two-and-out.  Liberty Charter is the early favorite in what should be a wide open WIC in 2021.  Liberty will be led by senior Riley Cedargreen and junior Megan Tomlinson. 


CLASS 1A D2

The Tri-Valley Titans reigned supreme in 2020, winning the 1A D2 title over a very tough Castleford squad 3-1.  Head coach Jennifer Uhlenkott did lose Zoe Ertel and Larissa Hansen to graduation, but brings back the Long Pin Conference Player of the Year, senior Amanda Uhlenkott, as well as honorable mention All-State selection Bailey Whitener.

Despite Tri-Valley’s triumph at state, the Titans did not win the Long Pin Conference tournament in 2020.  Horseshoe Bend earned that distinction, and they were placed on the same side of the bracket as Tri-Valley at state for their efforts.  The Titans and Mustangs met in the semifinals, with Tri-Valley earning a 3-1 win.  Horseshoe Bend rebounded to bring home the third place trophy, and are locked and loaded in 2021.  Sophomore Annelie Wilson earned 1st Team All-State and 1st Team All-Conference honors a year ago as a freshman, and leads a talented group of 10th graders that includes Abby Howerton and Torey Tschida.

Garden Valley and Council both have potential as sleepers in the Long Pin Conference in 2021.  Seniors Katy Wentz and Sara Vanderwyk will lead the Wolverines, while Council will rely on senior Sydney Nichos and junior Isabelle Eppich.

Castleford, the 1A D2 runner up, was hit hard by graduation.  Gone are iconic players like Zailee Poulson, Aubrey Mahannah and Zoey Mitton.  In fact, only three players return from last year’s varsity squad.  That has left the door open for any number of teams to reclaim the top spot in the Sawtooth Conference.

Dietrich has the most returning talent as Layla Von Berdt, Tori Hubert and Hailey Astle all earned All-Conference honors last year.  Richfield has senior Adyson Perkes back, Sun Valley Community School will be led by Allie Wilson, and Carey will rely on junior Jane Parke.  The Sawtooth Conference this year should be intriguing and competitive.

Watersprings ended up taking fourth at state last year, despite coming in as District 5-6’s number two seed.  The Warriors were knocked off by Mackay at districts, and the Miners finished fifth at state by winning the consolation match over Deary.  Mackay earns a slight nod over Watersprings as the favorite in District 5-6 in 2021.  Seniors Trinity Seefried and Brenna McCafee each earned All-State Honors a year ago for the Miners. 

Deary won District 2 last year, and lost to Mackay in the consolation final at state.  The Mustangs return about half of their varsity roster, and will have plenty of competition.  The Kendrick Tigers didn’t have a single senior on last year’s team, and many of their players were part of the basketball team that finished as the state runner-up in the winter.

Clark Fork won District 1’s North Star League, and the Wampus Cats did not have a single senior on last year’s squad.  That alone will make them tough to beat up north.



Fan Comments
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Urbandad
8/18/2021 11:13:28 PM
Skyview's "Adjustment Period"
"After back-to-back Class 4A titles in 2016 and ’17, and the Skyview Hawks needed an adjustment period after being promoted to the 5A level." They were state runners-up both years.
coach42
8/20/2021 2:25:22 PM
Re-Skyview Adjustment Period
Urbandad you really need to understand what a successful program is and goes through. Most teams that move up in a division, especially tougher division usually don't even make it out of districts. Going to back to back state champ game appearances is not even close to needing an adjustment. Skyview is a great program but there are other great programs too. Skyview is very consistent and the proof is in the film. Please understand game and program situations before you try to attack a program that has showed what greatness really is!!
IDsportsfan
8/24/2021 12:03:59 AM
Skyview Adjustment Period?
Ah yeah...SkyView has a tad bit more firepower and talent this year than usual. Should be a fun HS volleyball season in Idaho.








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