The Kristyn Rutland coaching era for Wood River High School’s varsity volleyball team kicked off at home with a rousing three-game win over the Jerome Tigers Wednesday.

     In its home debut Wood River (2-0) stayed unbeaten in Great Basin Conference play with a 25-22, 25-5, 25-20 sweep of Jerome (0-3) in front of an enthusiastic rooting section.

     Senior 5-10 outside hitter Emily Vandenberg led the Wolverine attack with 15 kills along with two serving aces among her 7 service winners.

     Freshman setter Samantha Chambers had a strong varsity home opener with 22 assists and added 8 serving winners including 3 aces.

     Senior libero Josie Conely (9 digs) sparked a solid team serving match with 9 winners including 3 aces.

     Hailey contributors were sophomore Willa Laski (5 kills, 4 blocks, 6 serving winners, 1 ace), senior Lauren Thomsen (5 kills, 2 blocks), senior Sariah Nilsen (3 kills, 1 block, 2 aces) and junior Star Herron (3 kills, 1 block).

     Rutland said, “We were a little shaky tonight. The girls rallied together to come up with a win.”

     Jerome’s senior leader Mercedes Bell (5 kills) turned her ankle on the first play of the match and didn’t return until late in the first game. Wood River pulled ahead 19-10 with Conely drilling two aces and making a miraculous dig leading to Nilsen’s crushing kill.

     Shortly after Bell’s return, Jerome launched a 12-3 run that tied the game 22-22. But Vandenberg stopped the run with a convincing hammer and senior Cambria Morris aced from the line and added another serving point, 25-22.

     Wood River handcuffed Jerome 25-5 in the second game. Time-after-time, Jerome had problems getting its serves into play. Vandenberg had 5 kills/tips in the second game, and Chambers contributed 7 straight serving winners.

     Vandenberg added 7 kills in the third and final game of the swift 68-minute match as Wood River stayed three or four points ahead of the Tigers throughout the deciding game. For Jerome, senior Vanessa Peiffer (5 kills, 2 blocks, 3 service winners) played well.

     Wood River competes today, Friday and Saturday at the Peg Peterson Invitational tournament based at Highland High School in Pocatello.

     Rutland said, “We have a lot of work in front of us and a tough weekend in front of us to iron out some roles.

     She added, “We are seeded second in our Friday pool play. Highland is the No. 1 seed, Preston is No. 3 and Valley is No. 4. We’re aiming for the Gold Bracket tournament on Saturday!”

     Wood River visits Mountain Home on Tuesday, Sept. 10.

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