The margins were closer than the previous meeting with Idaho Falls, but the result was the same for the Bonneville High School volleyball team.
The Bees closed out a tight third set that had three lead changes to take the match 25-16, 25-13, 25-17 on Wednesday at Idaho Falls. The win gives Bonneville a sweep of the regular season meetings against the Tigers and keeps the Bees undefeated versus Idaho Falls going back to the start of the 2016 season.
Bonneville stays atop the 4A District 6 standings at 6-0 with the win, while Idaho Falls is in third at 3-3 behind Skyline (5-1).
“We’ve had a lot of competition in the past,” Bonneville senior Sadie Lott said of the two teams, who have a combined 15 state titles between them. “(The Tigers) have always been very competitive. It is kind of like a rivalry game. I really think two of our strengths at Bonneville are to always have good energy and good communication with our teammates. I thought our energy was awesome.”
The Bees had the upper hand to begin the evening, building a 6-0 lead before the Tigers cut into the deficit three times, including getting five consecutive points to come within 19-14. Bonneville ended set one having scored the final four points.
The teams traded leads to begin set two and Bonneville built leads as large as 18-7 and 22-12 en route to winning 25-13. The third set was particularly intense, beginning point for point and prompting three lead changes. The Tigers came within 17-12 and 19-17 before Bonneville again responded, getting the final five points of the set and the match.
Both coaches remarked that Wednesday’s match was much different than the Sept. 10 meeting at Bonneville, which the Bees won 25-11, 25-7, 25-14.
“Later in the season, people get into the gym more,” Bonneville head coach Chantal McMurtrey said. “I.F.’s got a pretty young group. We play at a fast tempo. Sometimes when you’re not used to that, it can be shocking. The second time (playing us), it isn’t as shocking.”
The Idaho Falls-Bonneville meetings were consistently competitive when first-year Idaho Falls head coach Kaitlyn Zarpentine played for the Tigers. The enthusiasm for the match hasn’t gone away as a coach, and she was especially looking forward to her team showing how much they had progressed since Sept. 10.
“Every time you play matches like this, you get those miraculous plays you don’t see all the time,” Zarpentine said. “I loved it as a player and I love it just as much as a coach. I told my team, ‘Go out there tonight and have fun. The pressure’s not on us.’ I’m really proud of how much we’ve grown and how we’re showing how much we’ve grown.”
Zarpentine added that she liked the enthusiasm her bench players brought. After every I.F. point Wednesday, regardless of what the score read, the Tigers on the bench let out deafening cheers.
“They are the backbone of our energy,” Zarpentine said. “My kids feed off what my bench gives us.”
Helping Bonneville finish that close third set was Lott, whose natural position is middle blocker, but was all over the court for the Bees late in the match. The senior played middle back for the third set, getting three digs in a row at one point to end the night with 11 digs to go with five kills.
Lott said this season is the most she has moved around the court since joining Bonneville’s varsity as a freshman.
“There were a few times when me and Mariah (Jardine) would run into each other,” Lott said with a laugh. “This year has been different. I don’t really practice being center back or left back. It still takes me by surprise.”
That versatility has helped the Bees thus far this season, McMurtrey said, adding that Lott is not the only one who has played multiple positions.
“We really like Sadie in the middle but we have to have Sadie and Makayla (Sorensen) be opposite, so it makes our rotation kinda hokey,” McMurtrey said. “In the first set, (Sadie’s) in the middle. She’s such a great athlete. The part of her game that’s really come a long way is her serve receive.”
Sorensen had 11 kills, seven digs and an ace, Maddi Pettingill had seven kills, Maely Harrigfeld had nine digs and Alexis McMurtrey had 77 assists, four digs and three aces for the Bees (14-4 overall), who play in the inaugural ‘Battle of the Best’ tournament Friday and Saturday at Madison. The tournament, which will follow a round robin format Friday evening and Saturday morning before determining a bracket Saturday afternoon, includes Madison, Bonneville, Century, Lake City, Timberline, Skyview and Thunder Ridge.
Hannah Egbert had six aces, Brenna Clyde had three kills, Sydney Hess had 11 kills and Kara Stohl had 15 digs for Idaho Falls (11-12, 3-3 4A District 6), which plays at a tournament in Utah this weekend.