RATHDRUM — With a school featuring just 125 students, Clark Fork knew it was up against a difficult challenge at the Lakeland Invite on Saturday, knowing it would face far and away the toughest competition of the season.
But Wampus Cat head coach Cindy Derr entered her team in the tournament against far bigger schools knowing it would pay dividends down the road on their quest for a 1A state title.
“We had a good day learning and getting better,” said Derr. “I told the girls on the Coeur d’Alene and Cheney matches just score double digits and they did.”
The Wampus Cats (4-4) more than held their own, going 2-4 during a busy day, staring with a tough 19-25, 25-20, 15-13 loss to 3A Kellogg, a 25-10, 25-12 loss to the 5A Vikings, and a 25-21, 25-19 loss to 3A Priest River in pool play to put them in the Silver Bracket.
In bracket play, the Cats beat University JV 25-14, 25-19, then beat 3A Bonners Ferry for the second time this season in a 16-25, 25-12, 15-11 win, before falling to Cheney 25-10, 25-12 in the Silver Championship.
“I feel really good about our finish today. We were here to get better and see the bigger school competition. We played teams from 5A down to 3A and competed with all of them,” described Derr. “When I asked the Cheney coach how many students were in their school she said 1,300, and I told her we have 125 and she was amazed that we were there.”
Senior Brooke Stevens posted 74 assists, nine aces, eight kills and four blocks on the day, Ellie Kiebert 29 kills, 18 digs and a team high 12 aces, Hailey Bristol 18 kills and 18 digs, Aleehia Valliere 21 digs and Ellie Lambert 17 digs during a busy day of action. Lambert missed part of the day with tests, and Valliere stepped up big.
“Aleehia did a great job stepping in and moving to libero today while Ellie was out,” said Derr. “We saw some good passing in the back row by Hailey, who played for the first time in the back row, and Abbie (Anderson).”
The Cats knew wins would be scarce in the tourney, but they have their eyes on state tourney wins and this was the look they wanted.
“The entire team did really well and stepped up to the challenge of playing up,” said Derr. “We need to work on service receive and of course, my girls haven’t seen the height that they saw on Saturday. They fought hard all day.”
Clark Fork hosts Mullan tonight at 5:30 p.m. in varsity only action.