Apparently, the Timberline High volleyball team prefers the underdog role.
For the second time in three seasons, the Wolves fought their way through the losers’ bracket to win the 5A District Three Tournament championship.
Timberline had to win three matches in one day Thursday at Borah High to accomplish the feat, starting with a three-set sweep of Centennial just to advance to the district title match against Eagle.
Knowing they needed to beat Eagle twice to claim their second championship in three years and third in five, the Wolves didn’t waste any energy against the Mustangs. Timberline swept the first match 25-23, 25-14, 25-15 and won the best-of-three, if-necessary match 25-22, 25-14.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Idaho Statesman
“I think it was a huge accomplishment. Eagle is a very, very, very talented team, and we don’t take that lightly,” Timberline coach Carol Klein said. “A lot of things went right for us tonight. Volleyball’s a game of momentum, and we had it.”
Eagle (28-7) entered the tournament with a perfect record against 5A Idaho opponents, including a five-set victory over Timberline (17-3) on Oct. 3.
“Our coach did an awesome job of preparing us. We’ve done a lot of big, long weekend tournaments where we played a lot of games in a day. We were definitely ready for it,” said Timberline junior outside hitter Miranda Lamb, who led the Wolves with 41 kills, 23 digs and six aces. “Also, I just think everyone knew we wanted it. We didn’t care how tired we were going to be.
“We all came into this day confident.”
Timberline, the state runner-up last season, earns the league’s No. 1 seed at state, and Eagle will be No. 2. Centennial and Rocky Mountain also qualified for state Oct. 27-28 in North Idaho. Kuna can advance by winning a state play-in game Saturday.
A team from the 5A SIC has not won a 5A state championship since Rocky Mountain’s title in 2010.
“I really want to win this year,” said Timberline senior libero Katti Kerkman. “But I am super excited just for the experience. I’m excited to play.”
Timberline’s return to state for the third consecutive season hinged on a starting lineup that includes two freshmen. Lamb’s younger sister, Morgan, is the Wolves’ starting setter, but her inexperience at the varsity level didn’t show Thursday as she dished out 82 assists in three matches. Middle blocker Megan Schulte is also a freshman, and she led the Wolves with 10 blocks.
“(Morgan’s) a frickin’ champ. I’m so hard on her sometimes,” Miranda Lamb said. “I’ll wail a ball out of bounds on a perfect set and I’ll turn and blame her, and she’ll be like, ‘OK, I’ll get you out. I’ll get you a better set.’
“She handles it so well, and it’s so fun playing with her.”
Skyview’s dominance continues
Defending 4A state champion Skyview (35-3) swept Middleton 25-11, 25-8, 25-22 to win the 4A District Three Tournament championship for the seventh year in a row.
Senior middle blocker Olivia Bradley led the Hawks with 12 kills and six aces, and reigning Idaho Gatorade and 4A SIC player of the year Dani Nay added 11 kills. Sophomore setter Whitney Bower — a BYU commit — added 18 assists and five kills.
The Hawks, Vikings and Bishop Kelly all have qualified for the state tourney next Friday and Saturday in North Idaho.
5A championship highlights
- Timberline — Jordyn Pom-Arleau 29 kills, 23 digs, 5 aces; Bridget Ward 14 kills, five blocks, five aces; Katti Kerkman 38 digs; Miranda Lamb 41 kills, 23 digs, 6 aces; Morgan Lamb 82 assists, 7 aces; Megan Schulte 10 blocks.
- Eagle — McKenzie Lee 43 assists; Maddy Baldwin 12 kills; Emily Greer 12 kills; Ella Van Alfen 20 digs.