Big effort lifts Vallivue volleyball over Rocky Mountain

rroberts@idahostatesman.comSeptember 20, 2013 

CALDWELL — On more than one occasion, senior libero Kilee Lopez chased down an errant pass, stretching as far as her 5-foot-2 frame would take her to keep the play alive.

Her Vallivue volleyball teammates responded with equal fire, using a determined defense to overtake Rocky Mountain for a 25-12, 25-18, 20-25, 25-11 victory Thursday night at Vallivue High.

It was a key 5A Southern Idaho Conference win for the Falcons, who returned just four players from last year’s district championship team.

“We are really small, so we’ve really worked on making the smart plays and smart shots on defense,” Vallivue coach Michelle O’Connell said. “We have to be good defensively if we want to compete at this level.”

The Falcons (7-1, 2-0 5A SIC) do not have any players taller than 5-9, but they haven’t let that hinder their play at the net.

Vallivue managed to get kills on 10 plays that looked destined to be blocked by Rocky Mountain (11-4, 1-1) by using off-speed hits, sets to the corner, tips or sets over the net on the second ball.

“The one thing that we’ve tried to focus on this season is being smart and placing the ball,” Lopez said. “We know that we’re a short team and we know that we have to push the other team and execute plays.”

Failed execution cost Vallivue in the third set. The Falcons committed 12 unforced errors, including four over a seven-point stretch that saw the game go from tied 14-14 to a 20-15 Rocky Mountain lead.

Vallivue didn’t stay down for long, however.

The Falcons jumped out to a 6-1 lead in the fourth set and took advantage of 11 Rocky Mountain errors to pull away for the victory.

Senior outside hitter Maddi Osburn led the Falcons with 18 digs and 13 kills, Lopez added 12 digs and three service aces, and junior setter Bailey Irwin had 29 assists. Rocky Mountain was paced by senior middle blocker Katie Elgan with 17 kills, 13 digs and six blocks.

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