SANDPOINT — For the second year in a row, senior Grace Hicks was named MVP, leading a host of Bulldogs garnering 4A All-Inland Empire League volleyball honors, as voted on by the league’s coaches.
Hicks was one of the top power hitters in the entire state, also putting up a quality block and excelling in the back row on defense. She tallied 44 kills and 52 digs in three matches at state, and routinely hit double figures in kills and digs during a strong senior season.
“Grace was obviously outstanding all year but it was her personal attention and improvements to all phases of the game in both offensive and defensive progressions that really made her stand out this year,” said Bulldogs head coach Jeff Hurst. “Super proud of her and impressed with how much she has grown this year.”
Lilly Anderson was voted Defensive Player of the Year, excelling in serve-receive and anchoring the back row defensively with exemplary hustle.
“Lilly plays a limited role on the floor but her all out attempts at pursuing and getting to as many balls as possible is what really sets her apart,” described Hurst. “She is a tireless workhorse both in practice and in games.”
Seniors Jazmin Stockton and Marina Breuner also earned all-league honors. Stockton provided another power arm on the outside, and featured a strong jump serve, while Breuner set the attack and also was dangerous in the serve game.
“Jaz and Marina both played really important roles on our team this year both as players as well as senior leaders. It was often evident that as those two went, so went the team,” admitted Hurst. “I found myself from a coaches perspective keeping a special eye on them and looking for their consistent connection to keep the spark alive on our side of the floor.”
Rounding out the honors was Hurst, who garnered Coach of the Year. After winning four state titles for the Bulldogs in the late 90s, he returned to the sideline and led the team to a strong season.
“It’s a tremendous honor, especially coming in as the new guy. I had a lot of fun with the girls and I hope that came through both in the practice gym and in match play,” said Hurst, whose team sang the fight song after each win. “My aim is to be able to continue with and grow the tradition of success that volleyball in North Idaho has experienced in the years past at all levels.”
ALL-4A INLAND EMPIRE LEAGUE VOLLEYBALL
MVP — Grace Hicks, sr., Sandpoint.
DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR — Lilly Anderson, sr., Sandpoint.
COACH OF THE YEAR — Jeff Hurst, Sandpoint.
ALL-LEAGUE — Jazmin Stockton, sr., Sandpoint; Katy Ryan, so., Lakeland; Daphne Carroll, so., Lakeland; Peyton Claus, jr., Moscow; Jailyn Knott, sr., Moscow; Marina Breuner, sr., Sandpoint.