A marathon day for the Bonneville and Madison High School volleyball teams ended with a familiar sight for the Bees: the 5A District 5-6 championship trophy.
After coming back to edge the Bobcats 20-25, 23-25, 25-16, 25-16, 25-11 in the semifinals, the Bees swept Madison 25-21, 25-23, 25-20 later in the evening to repeat as district champions. Madison eliminated Hillcrest in three sets to reach teh championship match.
It was the 12th meeting between the teams in the last two seasons, and it had every element of what has developed into a solid eastern Idaho volleyball rivalry: three lead changes, runs as large as 6-0 and point-for-point battles. Bonneville advances to state for the third consecutive season while Madison advances for the second consecutive season.
Upon receiving the microphone from Bonneville athletic director Tyler Johnson to present medals to the Bees, Chantal McMurtrey first turned to Madison’s coaches and players.
“First I want to say congrats to Madison. You made us work for every freakin’ point tonight,” McMurtrey said to them. “District 6 will be well represented.”
According to Bonneville’s MaxPreps.com profile, which is updated after every match, Thursday was the first five-set match for the Bees this season.
“Madison just always has their team ready to play by districts,” McMurtrey said. “They are over there screaming their heads off. I really think that five-set match was the best thing to happen to my team. It was good to be pushed. I think that prepares us for next weekend.”
Kalli Harris, one of Bonneville’s three seniors, agreed.
“When Madison plays us, they always play their best,” Harris said. “They’re in it to win. We have to focus on the little things.”
The championship match shared some similarities to the five-set semifinal with some rollercoaster moments. The first set began point-for-point before Bonneville turned a 15-14 lead into a 21-17 lead. The Bobcats staved off game point three times before the Bees wrapped it up 25-21.
The Bobcats put the Bees in a hole early in the second set, beginning it with three unanswered points and building an 8-5 lead thanks to the play of senior Hannah Wilson. The Bees responded with a 5-0 run to take the lead, extending it to as much as 15-9. Madison went on a 6-0 run of its own to tie the set at 20-20 before Bonneville ended the set with a narrow 25-23 win off a kill by sophomore Makayla Sorensen.
Two lead changes occurred in the third set, with Madison taking a 10-9 lead and Bonneville snatching a 12-11 lead moments later. Sorensen, Sadie Lott and Paige Dixon went to work for Bonneville later in the set to help put the Bees up 20-15 and 22-17 before winning the set 25-20 to prompt a celebratory huddle on the court.
Madison coach and 2008 Bonneville graduate Meranda Maestas said her team has battled illness this week—junior Chloe Miller played despite being sick—and overcame early-season injuries. Regardless of the outcome of Thursday’s matches against Bonneville, Maestas said she knew her team can hold its own.
“We know that Bonneville is the team to beat and if we can play five games with them, we can compete with anybody,” Maestas said.
Sorensen had a nine digs, one ace and a team-high 14 kills for the Bees while Sade Williams had 12 kills, 12 digs and one ace and Lott had nine kills, five digs and two aces. Paige Dixon had five kills, Alexis McMurtrey had eight digs, two aces and 35 assists and Harris had 14 digs and two aces for Bonneville (36-4), which opens the 5A state tournament one week from today against District 3 No. 3 seed Centennial.
McMurtrey, Harris and Sorensen all acknowledged the pressure of being defending state champions. McMurtrey described her team, which features seven underclassmen, as one that possesses a “sense of calmness” in high stakes situations. Sorensen said the Bees enter those games focused on what they can control.
“All throughout the season, we’ve had a target on our back,” Sorensen said. “Coming into districts and state, we have the mindset to play our game and play the way we know how.”
Hannah Wilson had 12 kills, two aces and 11 digs, Hali Rasmussen had two aces and 13 digs and Lexi Garner had four blocks for Madison, which opens the 5A state tournament against District 3 champion Timberline. The Bobcats placed third last year, their first trophy since 2012.
“We have a lot of older kids that went last year,” Maestas said. “It’s great to have that experience. Regardless of how good your team is, you can’t replace experience.”