Thunder Ridge vs Madison volleyball

Thunder Ridge’s Kendal Hone goes up for the block in a Sept. 24 match versus Madison.

Volleyball state tournaments begin Friday across North Idaho. Here is a look at the eight teams who will represent District 6, and how they got to state.

Class 5A

Madison (27-13)

The Bobcats return to state for the seventh time in eight seasons. Madison is defending state champion, defeating Skyview in the if-necessary championship match last year for its first title since 1992 and fourth title in program history. Two players, Lexi Garner and Chloe Miller, graduated from that team. Baylee Peterson, Kenna Woodfield, Sidney Parker, Macie Gordon and Lexi Weaver return from that team as does Charity Wilson, who was out while recovering from ACL surgery until Sept. 24.

The Bobcats repeated as 5A District 5-6 champions, going undefeated versus conference opponents in the regular season and in districts. 

Madison begins the state tournament with a 10 a.m. MST game Friday versus District 3 runner-up Boise at Post Falls High School.

Thunder Ridge (33-13)

Thunder Ridge makes its first state tournament appearance in its second year of existence. The Titans took second to Madison in the 5A District 5-6 tournament and advanced to the state tournament after defeating District 3 fifth-place team Centennial in five sets in a 5A state play-in game Oct. 26 at Burley High School.

The Titans are senior-laden this year. Among them is 6-foot-1 Avery Turnage, who had 30 kills in the state play-in win. Thunder Ridge is also the lone Idaho team to have beaten Bonneville this season, handing the Bees a 3-1 loss on Sept. 10.

The Titans begin the state tournament with a 10 a.m. MST game Friday versus defending state runner-up Skyview at Post Falls High School.

Class 4A

Bonneville (34-6)

The Bees make their 15th postseason appearance in 17 seasons. Bonneville is coming off of its fourth consecutive district championship, defeating Shelley in three sets on Oct. 24. Their two most recent district titles were in 4A while the first two were in 5A.

Bonneville enters state having lost to one Idaho team--Thunder Ridge on Sept. 10--and having dropped five sets all season. The Bees have reached four consecutive state title games, placing second in 5A in 2015, winning the 2016 and 2017 5A titles, and placing second in 4A last season. Bonneville has won nine state titles in program history, the most of any District 6 team.

The Bees begin the state tournament with a 10 a.m. MST game Friday versus Burley at Coeur d'Alene High School.

Shelley

The Russets return to the state tournament for the first time since 2015, when they won the 3A state championship. This is their first appearance at the 4A tournament since joining the classification last fall. Shelley has won two state titles, both in 3A.

Shelley put together an impressive run through the district tournament to reach the postseason. Seeded No. 5 after two regular-season wins versus conference opponents, Shelley defeated No. 4 seeded Blackfoot before falling to No. 1 seeded Bonneville on the first day of districts. The Russets followed that up with wins over No. 6 seeded Hillcrest and No. 3 seeded Idaho Falls on day 2 and a semifinal win over No. 2 seeded Skyline on the final day to qualify for state and play Bonneville for the district title.

Shelley begins the state tournament with a 10 a.m. MST game Friday versus Kuna at Coeur d'Alene High School.

Class 3A

Sugar-Salem

The Diggers reach the state tournament for the ninth consecutive season. Sugar-Salem won its second consecutive 3A District 6 title on Oct. 22.

Sugar-Salem enters state as defending state runner-up, taking second to Filer last season. The Diggers have played in the last four 3A state championship matches, taking second to Shelley in 2015 and winning in 2016 and 2017. Sugar-Salem has won seven titles in program history.

The Diggers begin the state tournament with a 10 a.m. MST game Friday versus Timberlake at Lake City High School. 

Class 2A

Firth (15-4)

Firth reaches the state tournament for the eighth consecutive season. The Cougars won their fourth consecutive 2A District 6 title on Oct. 24. Firth has won three state titles in program history, with 2013 being the most recent.

The Cougars have won trophies over the previous two seasons, placing third in 2017 and second in 2018. Prior to last season, Firth last reached the state title game in 2014, also placing second. Two of Firth's losses this season are from tournaments.

Firth begins the state tournament with a noon MST game Friday versus St. Maries at Lakeland High School in Rathdrum.

Class 1ADI

Butte County

The Pirates reach the state tournament for the seventh time in nine seasons upon defeating Lapwai in a state play-in game. This is Butte County's first appearance at the 1ADI level since 2015. The Pirates have won three state titles in program history, with 1996 being the most recent. 

Butte County is young this season with its varsity roster featuring the likes of sophomore Kiya McAffee, junior Addy Vandever, junior Pressley Ray and junior Belle Beard.

Butte County begins the state tournament with a 10 a.m. MST game Friday versus Ambrose at Lapwai High School.

Class 1AD2

Watersprings (28-2)

The Warriors make their fifth consecutive state tournament appearance in seven years as an Idaho High School Activities Association sanctioned program. Watersprings went undefeated versus conference opponents in the regular season and in districts, winning the 1A Division II District 5-6 tournament over Rockland for its second district title in program history. Watersprings' two losses are to one team, defending 2A state champion Malad.

Watersprings has been young for several years but now has an experienced roster this season after having no seniors last year. Seniors Joanna Hayes (setter) and Abigail Yadon (middle hitter/utility) have provided quite the 1-2 punch for the Warriors this fall since Yadon's return to the court after missing her entire junior year of sports with meniscus and ACL tears in her left leg. Watersprings has won state trophies in each of the previous three seasons: third place in 2016, the state championship in 2017 and third place in 2018.

Watersprings begins the state tournament with a 10 a.m. MST game Friday versus Kendrick at Lewiston High School.

Marlowe Hereford is a sports reporter for the Post Register. Contact her at 542-6772 and find her on Twitter: @mwhereford.

Marlowe Hereford has worked for the Post Register since August 2011. She has covered 11 different high school sports, Olympic sports and recreational sports.