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Lake City wins 5A regional volleyball

When the Lake City volleyball team’s eight seniors were sophomores on the junior varsity team, they didn’t win a match.

That was coach Bret Taylor’s first year at Lake City. He worked with them, and that hard work is paying dividends this season.

The Timberwolves, who captured a 5A Inland Empire League championship last week, added a state-qualifying Region I title Saturday when LC topped Post Falls 23-25, 25-19, 27-25, 25-18 in an entertaining and hard-fought match at LC.

Post Falls bounced back, shaking off an emotional setback to LC to earn the region’s second state berth by sweeping Lewiston 25-17, 25-20, 25-20.

LC (19-5) and Post Falls (30-7) will stay close to home when the state tournament is held at Coeur d’Alene High, beginning Friday. LC takes on District III runner-up Vallivue (14-3) and Post Falls goes against District III fifth-place seed Eagle, a play-in qualifier Saturday.

The T-Wolves didn’t play flawlessly, but it was without a doubt their best match of the season.

Outside hitters Kylie Curtis, a junior transfer, and senior Jennifer Schuman were especially key. Curtis had a season-high 26 kills to go with 12 assists, eight digs and six aces. Schuman had 12 kills and seven aces.

After splitting the first two games, LC got on a momentum curve that carried it the final two games. Schuman jump-started the T-Wolves in the third game when she had six aces in a 10-0 run that included three Curtis kills.

“At that point, before she started serving in that stretch, emotionally and mentally the match could have gone either way,” Taylor said. “Jen has been serving like that the majority of the season. Same with Kylie.”

Still, LC had to fight back from a 23-20 deficit late in the third set before pulling it out. Schuman scrambled to chip the ball over the net on set point.

In the fourth game, LC jumped out to a 12-0 lead, and the Trojans were never able to recover.

Schuman was holding the regional trophy afterward.

“We were clicking today,” Schuman said. “Before we were a little safer (serving), maybe a little inconsistent and lacked some confidence. But we served well today.”

Curtis agreed.

“We knew we had to step it up as a team,” Curtis said. “We knew we couldn’t give them anything easy. We had to come out serving strong.”

Ashley Jibby led PF with 13 kills and 17 digs.

“I think Lake City played really tough,” PF coach Willow Hanna said. “They served well. They looked really good. Their serve/receive was tons better than the last time we saw them. It was a battle and it was good volleyball. Unfortunately, in the fourth game we decided it was over.”

Against Lewiston, Jibby had 14 kills. Allison Meehan led with four aces and five blocks.

“I thought offensively we played really good,” Hanna said. “I thought our setters were connecting with our hitters well.”

4A Region I: Sandpoint captured the title, downing Moscow 16-25, 25-14, 25-13, 25-19 in the title match at Sandpoint.

Sandpoint (15-11) advances to state, which begins Friday at Post Falls High School. The Bulldogs open against perennial power Bonneville (27-9).

Hannah Neumann led Sandpoint with 12 kills. Neumann, Mackenzie Jones and Megan Rockwell served well.

3A District I: St. Maries is headed to state again.

The Lumberjacks captured the district title at Lakeland High in Rathdrum. State begins Friday at Lake City High. St. Maries (24-8) takes on District VI champ Sugar-Salem.

Priest River (13-8) earned the second state berth. The Spartans meet District III champ Fruitland.

1A Division I: Lakeside topped Greenleaf Friends in a play-in match in Grangeville to earn a state berth.

Lakeside (13-7) opens against District IV-V-VI champ Challis when state begins Friday at Lewis-Clark State College.