Getting into the Idaho High School Activities Association 1A Division 2 state volleyball tournament for the first time in 19 years is no easy feat.
The Sun Valley Community School Cutthroats volleyball team went through a gauntlet to get to where they are now.
The Cutthroats were the No. 2-seeded team in the 1A Division 2 Sawtooth Tournament and lost 3-2 in the first round to the Hansen Huskies.
However, first-year head coach Natalie Heurkins wouldn’t let her team falter anymore and made the players dig deep to find a new outlook.
The result was a date with history.
“I’m excited to go to state,” Heurkins said. “It’s awesome the volleyball team is doing well. They were so pumped.”
After losing to Hansen, the Cutthroats had an intense practice to refocus, and consequently rattled off wins against Hagerman, Richfield and Dietrich to reach the second-place game against Carey, with the winner going to the IHSAA 1AD2 state tournament.
The Cutthroats stayed focused and kept up the momentum to beat the Panthers, 3-1 (25-14, 25-27, 25-22, 25-19).
“It was very exciting to beat Carey,” Heurkins said. “We look forward to playing them again. They are very talented.”
As the route to state went through five teams in the district tournament, the Cutthroats’ first-round foe had an easier time.
SVCS (7-3) will face the Horseshoe Bend Mustangs (14-5) at 1 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 30.
The Mustangs were also the No. 2 seed in the 1A Division 2 Long Pin tournament, but only played two games. They beat Salmon River 3-1 (25-17, 24-26, 25-20, 25-16).
That set up a match with top-seeded Tri-Valley, where the Mustangs also won 3-1 (25-23, 25-21, 19-25, 25-23).
This will be a good matchup as both teams start out their early sets by averaging between 22.7-24.8 points through the first two sets of each match. Both teams average 23.3 points in the third set.
In the fourth set, SVCS averages 24.8 points, so if the Cutthroats are up, the fourth set is usually when they close teams out. The Mustangs only average 21.6 points.
However, it’s in the fifth set where the Mustangs shine most by averaging 13.5 points versus the Cutthroats’ 8.0.
Seniors Noelle LaFleur and Lola Street have been the leaders for the Cutthroats as the team’s captains and outside hitter/defensive specialists.
“Noelle is really good at keeping the team on track and communicating on the court,” Heurkins said. “Lola has the drive and heart of a champion. She works incredibly hard and sets an example.”
Against Carey, Street led the team with seven service aces, 36 digs and 14 kills. She also had 10 serves that turned into 10 points.
LaFleur had 13 digs and three assists in that game.
Fans should pay attention to the matchup between sophomore middle blocker Maeve Bailey—who is the Cutthroats’ tallest player—and freshman Annelie Wilson—who is the Mustangs’ middle blocker.
“(Wilson) should be a good matchup with Maeve,” Heurkins said. “I’m feeling good about that game. It should be a fun and well-matched competition.”
The entire tournament will be live-streamed on the NFHS Network with full coverage running through the entire tournament on Oct. 30-31.