Eastern Idaho sends 10 teams to state volleyball

Bonneville volleyball players celebrate after a point in a 5A District 5-6 semifinal match against Madison on Oct. 19 at Bonneville High School. John Roark / jroark@postregister.com

Last year, District 6 took home seven trophies at last year’s state volleyball championships.

Eastern Idaho sends 10 trophies to north Idaho this weekend seeking to add to that trophy count. Of them, two are defending state champions and six won trophies last year.

Here’s a classification-by-classification breakdown of local teams competing this weekend in Lewiston, Coeur d’Alene, Post Falls and Rathdrum.

Class 5A

BONNEVILLE BEES (36-4): This is the third consecutive postseason appearance for the Bees, who enter this weekend as defending 5A District 5-6 champions and defending 5A state champions. Bonneville graduated two from last year’s 38-5 team which won its first state title since 2009 (eighth in program history) and had an undefeated season versus Idaho opponents. The Bees, who were the youngest team at last year’s 5A state tournament, have three seniors, three juniors, three sophomores and a freshman on this year’s roster.

Three of Bonneville’s losses are to teams from California and Utah while the other is to defending Idaho 4A state champion Skyview. The Bees have not lost since Sept. 16 at the Durango Fall Classic tournament in Las Vegas.

Bonneville begins the state tournament Friday with a 10 a.m. (Mountain Time) match against District 3 No. 3 seed Centennial at Couer d’Alene High School.

MADISON BOBCATS (27-11): The Bobcats make the postseason for the second consecutive year and their fourth time in five seasons. Madison has four seniors including Dani Weaver, who has missed this season due to an ACL tear, two juniors, two sophomores and two freshmen on varsity.

The Bobcats, who graduated three from last year’s 27-16 team which won the 5A state third place trophy, carried the No. 3 seed into last week’s 5A District 5-6 tournament and qualified for state by sweeping No. 2 seeded Hillcrest in three sets of an elimination match. Madison have faced Bonneville more than any other team in Idaho the last two seasons (12 times) and are the lone team to push the Bees to five sets this season. The Bobcats last won a state championship in 1992.

Madison begins the state tournament with a 10 a.m. match Friday against District 3 champion Timberline at Coeur d’Alene High School.

Class 3A

SOUTH FREMONT COUGARS (14-5): The Cougars make their second consecutive postseason appearance, but their first under head coach Xavier Miranda. South Fremont enters state as 3A District 6 champions for the first time since 2010, defeating defending state champion Sugar-Salem in four sets on Oct. 17 in the sixth meeting between the teams this season. The Cougars entered the district tournament as the No. 2 seeded team while Sugar-Salem was the No. 1 seed.

South Fremont has four seniors, five juniors and three sophomores on varsity. The Cougars last won a state trophy in 2010, placing third.

South Fremont begins the state tournament Friday with a noon match against District 3 runner-up Homedale at Lake City High School.

SUGAR-SALEM DIGGERS (23-12): The Diggers make their seventh consecutive postseason appearance. Sugar-Salem graduated four from last year’s 28-12 state championship team and have six seniors on this year’s 12-member varsity roster. The other six players include three juniors and three sophomores.

Sugar-Salem has won a state trophy in each of the last four seasons, placing third in 2013 and 2014 and second in 2015. The Diggers have significant height this season, with 5-9 sophomore setter Camber Dodson being the shortest player on the front line.

Sugar-Salem begins the state tournament Friday with a 10 a.m. match against District 3 champion Fruitland at Lake City High School.

SNAKE RIVER PANTHERS (overall record unknown): The Panthers make the postseason for the second consecutive year and ninth time in 10 seasons, qualifying upon winning the 3A District 5 title last week. Snake River has gone two-and-out in its last two postseason appearances. The last trophy for the Panthers was in 2013, when they won the state title.

Snake River has numerous upperclassmen on this year’s varsity roster. The Panthers have seven seniors.

Snake River begins the state tournament Friday with a noon match against District 1 champion Bonners Ferry.

Class 2A

FIRTH COUGARS (20-5): The Cougars make the postseason for the sixth consecutive season. Firth qualified for state upon defending its 2A District 6 title last weekend in Salmon.

The Cougars went two-and-out in last year’s state tournament. Their last state trophy was in 2014, taking runner-up to Malad. Firth graduated two from last season and has four seniors on its 12-member varsity roster.

Firth begins the state tournament Friday with a 10 a.m. match against District 5 runner-up West Side at Lakeland High School.

WEST JEFFERSON PANTHERS (overall record unknown): Of the 10 local teams headed to north Idaho this weekend, West Jefferson has had the longest wait between state tournaments. The Panthers are making their first postseason appearance since 2010, when they won the state championship eight months after winning their second consecutive basketball state title.

West Jefferson has four seniors, three juniors and four sophomores on its 11-member roster. The Panthers qualified for state upon taking second to Firth last weekend in the 2A District 6 tournament.

West Jefferson begins the state tournament Friday with a 10 a.m. match against District 3 champion and defending state champion Nampa Christian at Lakeland High School.

Class 1A Division I

CHALLIS VIKINGS (11-8): The Vikings make the postseason for the second consecutive season and 10th time in 12 years. Challis advanced to state upon defending its 1A Division I District 5-6 title on Saturday in a best-of-three series versus Grace.

Of the 12 players on Challis’s roster, eight are seniors and five are returning starters. The Vikings placed fourth last year, the same outcome as their previous postseason appearance in 2014. Their last title came in 2012 to complete a 22-0 season.

Challis begins the state tournament Friday with a noon match against District 2 runner-up Genesee at Lewis-Clark State College in Lewiston.

Class 1A Division II

BUTTE COUNTY PIRATES (overall record unknown): The Pirates make their third consecutive postseason appearance and second at the 1A Division II level. Butte County returned to state upon defending its 1A Division II District 5-6 title last week.

The Pirates graduated four from last year and have seven seniors on this year’s 10-member varsity roster. Butte County enters this weekend as defending state runner-up. The last state title for the Pirates was in 1996.

Butte County begins the state tournament Friday with a 10 a.m. match against District 2 champion Logos at Lewiston High School.

WATERSPRINGS WARRIORS (overall record unknown): The Warriors make their third consecutive postseason appearance in five years as an Idaho High School Activities Association sanctioned program. Last year’s team made history by placing third to take home the first state trophy for Watersprings in any sport.

The Warriors are full of youth. Save for a senior and a junior, the rest of Watersprings’ 10-member varsity roster consists of sophomores and freshmen.

Watersprings begins the state tournament Friday with noon match against District 1 champion Clark Fork at Lewiston High School.

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