POST FALLS — Janae Rayborn clutched the fourth-place trophy late Saturday morning, then turned to share it with her Lake City High volleyball teammates — not sure whether to be happy, or sad ... or both.
“I wanted the first-place trophy, but I’m still super proud to even place at state this year,” the senior outside hitter said after the Timberwolves were eliminated by a 16-25, 25-18, 25-21, 22-25, 15-8 loss to the Skyview Hawks of Nampa at The Arena. “We’ve overcome a lot ... just happy, I guess. Bittersweet.”
Lake City finished 22-14, bringing home a trophy for the third straight season — the first time that’s happened in program history.
Not too shabby after losing two of the best players to ever come through the program to graduation, a pair that helped the T-Wolves finish second and third at state the past two seasons.
“I think a lot of people wrote us off at the beginning of the season, because we lost some really talented players,” third-year Lake City coach Mike Summers said. “But we had some great players that came back. We’ll lose some good players again, but we have some talent coming back next year, and some good quality talent on our JV coming up.
“I think we’re on the right track of building things the way we want them built. Now it’s just a matter of getting over that hump.”
On Saturday, that “hump” was a Skyview squad that didn’t exactly pound the ball at the T-Wolves, but rather kept them off-balance with its offense.
“They sent a lot of chips and dumps, and just kinda caught us a little off — we weren’t quite ready to move forward and pick those up,” Summers said. “And a couple of the sets we beat ourselves with unforced errors.”
But at least Lake City went down swinging. Rayborn had 17 kills and senior Kate DuCoeur had 13 kills for the Timberwolves. Juniors Tanai Jenkins and Brenna Hawkins added eight and six kills, respectively. Junior libero Jaya Miller had 24 digs, sophomore setter Nellie Reese 17 assists, freshman Ella Hosfeld 12 assists, Rayborn two aces.
“I think it (being written off by some) motivated us a lot,” DuCoeur said. “I think this tournament we played really well together, better than in the other tournaments. I’m very proud of everyone, and everything we accomplished.”
This season, Lake City saw most of the best teams in the state in 5A and 4A during the regular season, playing in tournaments in Boise and in eastern Idaho. Also, Eagle came north to play Lake City and a couple other North Idaho squads.
“That helped tremendously,” Rayborn said. “We were lucky to play in two back-to-back tournaments that got us prepared for this.”
Lake City took it to Skyview in the first set, dropped the next two sets, then fought back to force a fifth set, where the T-Wolves trailed 8-7 before the Hawks went on a six-point run to take control.
“They’re good — really good,” Skyview coach Kevin Murphy said of Lake City. “Very athletic; run a good, fast offense. I thought their libero (Miller) was terrific. They’re a good team.”
Murphy’s daughter, senior setter/hitter Karen Murphy, who has committed to Dartmouth, had 17 kills, 31 assists, four aces and three blocks for Skyview. Molly Anderson, a senior outside hitter, added 12 kills. Junior outside/right side hitter Leyah de Souza, who started as a freshman at Lakeland, had 11 kills. Ke’ilani Sedrick, a senior libero, had 19 digs and Lexi Ghighina, a senior middle blocker, had four aces.
Skyview wound up battling all the way back to a second-place finish. Thunder Ridge, a second-year school in Idaho Falls making its first state appearance, beat Skyview 22-25, 25-22, 25-21, 25-20 in the championship match.
Thunder Ridge beat Skyview 3-1 in the first round on Friday, and Skyview won four matches in the losers bracket, including taking out both Coeur d’Alene schools, en route to the title match.
Defending champion Madison of Rexburg finished third, losing to Thunder Ridge and Skyview on Saturday.
Other title matches
4A: Bonneville of Idaho Falls won a state title for the third time in four years, beating Century of Pocatello 25-18, 25-22, 25-18 in the championship match at Coeur d’Alene High. Bonneville has now won 10 state titles since 1991 — five each in 4A and 5A.
3A: Sugar-Salem of Sugar City captured its third state 3A crown in four years, defeating Fruitland 25-15, 25-19, 25-13 in the final at Lake City High. It’s the Diggers’ eighth title overall.
2A: Firth won its first state title since 2013, downing Nampa Christian 25-22, 25-16, 19-25, 25-13 in the title match at Lakeland High’s Hawk Court. It’s the Cougars’ fourth state title.
1A Division I: Troy was the lone defending champion to repeat, beating Ambrose 25-13, 25-21, 25-8 for the championship at Lapwai High. It’s the Trojans’ 12th state title.
1A Division II: Watersprings of Idaho Falls won its second state title in three seasons, downing Salmon River 25-9, 25-14, 25-5 in the title match at Lewiston High’s Booth Hall.