Like a lot of Idaho small schools, Carey High School’s volleyball program never seems to have the kind of tall and athletic player who can dominate at the net and anchor a championship team.
Rarely does a talent like Camas County’s Katelyn Peterson come along. The 6-0 outside hitter led the Mushers to three straight State 1A Division 2 volleyball titles and is now a key player for the University of Idaho volleyball team in the Western Athletic Conference.
But the Carey Panthers under 10th-year coach Kathy Whitworth—one of the most competitive players to ever wear a Carey volleyball and basketball jersey—always seem to excel at basics like serving and defense. Those things can develop without great height.
Carey demonstrated how important serving can be Tuesday night in winning the final two games in a 19-25, 25-16, 22-25, 25-11, 15-9 Northside Conference home victory over the Castleford Wolves on “Senior Night” in Panther country.
It was only the second time all season that Carey has gone the distance to five games with an opponent, the other occasion a five-game loss at Castleford Sept. 12. Serving was vital. Carey piled up 20 more service winners than Castleford 56-36.
Leading the way in the serving department were senior Ashley Durtschi (13 winners, 6 aces), sophomore Medin Cenarrusa (13 winners, 4 aces) and junior Kylie Castle (12 winners, 5 aces).
Also chipping in at the line were juniors Paige Koudelka (7 winners, 3 aces) and Natalie Villanueva (7 winners, 3 aces).
Carey had played and won a three-game Northside home match with the Community School just 24 hours before, on Monday. It seemed like the Panthers were slow-footed in the early going against Castleford. The Panthers left holes on defense, struggled with serve-receive and didn’t serve well.
And Castleford won the first game 25-19.
The home team turned things around in the second game. Kylie Castle served eight straight points moving Carey from an 8-8 game into a big 16-8 lead. Tall middle Villanueva contributed 3 kills in that stretch and finished with a team-high 8 of Carey’s 30 kills. She had 2 blocks.
Although Carey built leads of 5-1, 12-5 and 19-15 in the third game, Castleford rallied for the 25-22 win behind the hitting of junior Sydney Ellsworth and senior Caitlyn Choate. Each finished with 9 kills, the major chunk of the 32 Wolves’ kills.
Carey sophomore Cenarrusa in the next two games demonstrated she had a little more spring in her legs.
She led the Panthers at the net and at the line. Cenarrusa finished with 7 kills, 5 in the last two games, and 4 blocks, all coming in the final two. Castle also had 7 kills for Carey, and Durtschi 4.
Two other important players for Carey were senior libero Lilly Rivera, probably the best defender and passer on the court Tuesday night, and setter Koudelka. Sophomore Hailee Johnson added 2 kills and delivered 4 winning serves.
1A Division 1 Raft River from Malta had bragging rights during Tuesday’s tri-meet, beating Carey and Castleford in two games apiece during the non-conference match-ups.
Carey (5-13, 4-8 league) has two league matches left on its 14-match Northside 1A Division 2 slate—Tuesday at Richfield and next Thursday at Dietrich.
The Community School (0-13, 0-12 league) dropped a three-game match to defending State 1A Division 2 champion Lighthouse Christian Academy on Tuesday night in Jerome. The Cutthroats hosted Twin Falls Christian Academy Thursday at the Fish Tank gym.
Murtaugh visits Sun Valley Monday, Oct. 14 at 6 p.m., and the Cutthroats travel down to Dietrich Tuesday. The Northside Conference tournament begins Saturday, Oct. 19, also at the Dietrich gym.