The Lewiston Bengals knew they would have a target on their backs with everyone returning from last year’s State 5A volleyball tournament championship team.
So they put something else on their backs, a team motto on their warm-up shirts: We are relentless.
Lewiston was certainly relentless in a 4-0 run through the 2013 tournament, leaving no doubt with a 25-11, 25-20, 25-12 win over Idaho Falls in the championship match Saturday at Post Falls High. The Bengals (35-1) dropped their first two sets in Friday’s opener before winning 12 straight, including a 3-0 sweep of Idaho Falls in the semifinals earlier Saturday.
“We knew expectations were really high,” coach Kelly Harwick said. “They really did buy in to getting stronger, faster. We condition all year. The pressure on them was pretty heavy and the kids never let it get to them.”
Idaho Falls (26-14) spent a lot of energy in a 21-25, 25-27, 21-25 semifinal loss to Lewiston and a marathon five-set victory over third-place Rocky Mountain to earn a second shot at the Bengals.
Taking the court after a 20-minute break, the Tigers kept it close for a while but Lewiston ran off 11 straight points to close out the first set. It was more of the same in the second set as Lewiston’s balanced offense, blocking and digging frustrated the tiring Tigers. Kills by seniors Madison Lang and Klaree Hobart closed out the set.
Another 11-0 run put the Bengals on top 19-6 in the third set. Lang put away the final kill and the Bengals poured onto the court to celebrate.
Junior outside hitter Emilee Schlader had 10 kills and 19 digs. Hobart contributed nine kills and 19 digs. Junior Brett Hastings added six kills and three blocks. Junior Makayla Wilson (19) and senior Kendra Hill (12) combined for 31 assists.
“We spread it around,” Harwick said. “We know if someone struggles a bit we have someone else we can go to.”
The earlier Lewiston-Idaho Falls match was more competitive, but the Bengals seemed to win the majority of the momentum-swinging points.
Lewiston loses four seniors but will return a strong junior class in pursuit of a three-peat.
Sandpoint was swept by Century and eliminated from the state tournament at Lake City High School in Coeur d’Alene.
The defending champion Diamondbacks also beat the Bulldogs in the second round last year.