COEUR d’ALENE — As if the Lake City High volleyball team didn’t have enough weapons for its opponents to worry about.
Janae Rayborn, the “other” outside hitter, put on a stellar performance with seven aces and seven kills as the Timberwolves crushed the visiting Coeur d’Alene Vikings 25-10, 25-11, 25-10 in less than an hour on Tuesday night to wrap up another 5A Inland Empire League championship.
“We have so many super, high-skilled players,” said Rayborn, a 5-9 junior. “And it always motivates me to play better when they’re playing so well. It’s a lot of pressure, but I love the position.”
While setter Klaire Mitchell and outside hitter Ashley Kaufman, a pair of seniors, garner much of the attention for Lake City (26-1, 6-0 5A IEL) — and rightly so — the T-Wolves are balanced and loaded throughout.
“Janae was on fire from the service line,” Lake City coach Mike Summers said. “Serving that hard float took them out of system, and they really struggled passing the ball. And in the front row, she had some great swings.”
“Klaire had some really great sets today,” Rayborn said. “We all had a lot of energy today, with the big crowd (before the match, Lake City honored its past players and coaches), and we got in a better rhythm today.”
Lake City won or shared the league title for the fourth straight season. The T-Wolves tied Cd’A for the league title in 2015, then won the last three outright, going 6-0 each season.
All told, Lake City had 13 aces and only four service errors on Thursday.
Kaufman finished with 11 kills and nine digs, Mitchell had 28 assists and three blocks, and Reilley Chapman had 12 digs.
“As a team we were serving really aggressively tonight, and running a very quick tempo.” Summers said. “We were all in on defense, and there were some great saves, and great rallies. It was kinda fun to watch.”
Coeur d’Alene (15-8, 4-2) fell behind early in every set, plagued by hitting and ballhandling errors throughout the match. Taylin Rowley had 13 assists and four digs for the Vikings, Kelly Horning seven kills, Liliana Hare three blocks, Sarah Wilkey four digs.
Rayborn had five of her kills in the first set. On set point Hare, a junior middle blocker, had three straight blocks on Lake City hits — only to see another Viking player hit long to give the Timberwolves the set.
In the second set, Rayborn served back-to-back aces to boost Lake City’s lead to 15-8. Coeur d’Alene coach Carly Curtis called timeout — then Rayborn followed with another ace.
Kaufman had five kills in the third set. And middles Tanai Jenkins and Claire Heberer had their moments as well.
“We’re pretty balanced that way,” Summers said. “And I thought our middles added some flavor to it as well — Tanai had some good swings, and made some great blocks. Overall, I think everyone was eager for the rematch tonight, and eager to put the league championship up on the wall again.”
Lake City won 25-21, 25-20, 26-24 at Coeur d’Alene four weeks ago. The rematch was nowhere near that close.
Summers said this match was “up there” with the best Lake City has played all season.
Lake City wraps up regular-season play Thursday at home vs. Lakeland, then plays host to Post Falls on Saturday in the first round of the 5A Region 1 tournament. Coeur d’Alene plays host to Lewiston on Saturday in its regional opener.