PRIEST RIVER — With power hitters and a scrappy back line, it’s shaping up to be a solid season for the Spartan volleyball team in its second year under head coach Leslie Ritter.
The Spartans avenged an earlier season loss to Clark Fork with a 25-21, 25-19 straight set win over the Wampus Cats at the Lakeland Invite over the weekend. The Spartans also lost 25-10, 27-25, showing the ability to go toe-to-toe with a 5A opponent for stretches.
With a talented starting lineup of junior setter Harlee Meek, junior outside hitter Natalie Randolph, junior middle blocker Cassidy Prudek, senior right side Gabby Hagman, senior outside hitter Tabitha Richey, senior middle blocker Dalaynee Cook and junior libero Maggee Pankoke, the Spartans have the firepower to make some noise in the Intermountain League this season.
“I’m actually leaning on the whole team this year. We have to work as a team to accomplish our goals. As a team, the sky’s our limit,” said Ritter, who set a goal of getting the Spartans to the state tournament. “Our strength this year is we play well as a whole team. Yes, we have bigger hitters than others or an outstanding Libero, but what makes or breaks us is our team effort. Everyone has a job to do, and when they do it, good things happen.”
In a recent loss to Newport, Randolph tallied 15 kills, Meek 22 set assists and two aces and Pankoke two aces and 20 digs.
The Spartans host Timberlake on Thursday.
n Spartans fall to Newport
NEWPORT — A 20 yard touchdown pass from Robbie Anselmo to Caden Brennan accounted for the lone score for the Spartans, who fell 34-8 to Newport on Friday night in a tough nonleague road game.
The Spartans (1-1) had trouble finishing drives against the Grizzlies (2-0), aside from the second quarter strike as they trailed 20-8 at half.
The Grizzlies blanked Bonners Ferry 58-0, so the Spartans fared much better than their IML compatriot.
The Spartans host IML power St. Maries on Friday night in a Homecoming game at 7 p.m.
n Fegert scores goal in loss to Lumberjacks
PRIEST RIVER — Matt Masterson scored a pair of goals in the first half to send the Lumberjacks past the Spartans in an Intermountain League match in Priest River recently.
Jakia Irvine switched to goalie in the second half and held the Lumberjacks without a goal, as the Spartans picked up their play and managed to end with 12 shots on goal.
“The boys played very well and the two teams were very evenly matched. It was a lot of fun seeing how quickly this team is progressing and becoming more competitive each match,” said head coach Rob Lawler. “We had a few opportunities tonight that have me very excited about our upcoming matches.”
First half — 1, SM, Preston Blood (unassisted), 9:00. 2, SM, Jackson Pritchard (penalty kick), 13:00. 3, SM, Matt Masterson (unassisted), 21:00. 4, SM, Masterson (unassisted), 31:00. 5, PR, Bowen Fegert (penalty kick), 33:00. Second half — none.
Shots on goal — SM 19, PR 12.
Saves — SM, Ben Bailey, 5; PR, Evan Barnes and Jakia Irvine, 11.
n Spartans and Lumberjacks play to a draw
PRIEST RIVER — Karah Fink blasted two goals a minute apart in the 47th and 48th minute, and Keona Brown added a goal in the 37th minute to help lead the Spartan girls to a 3-3 draw against the Lumberjacks recently in a home match.
Makia Fitzmorris tallied six saves for the Spartans (1-1-3, 1-1-3 IML), who held a 3-2 lead for most of the second half until St. Maries equalized in the final minutes.
“This is the first game that we passed perfectly. Give and gos, we trapped all the balls correctly,” said Spartans head coach Rachel Davis, lauding the goals of her target forward. “Karah will run past anybody. She’s aggressive, and scores all of the goals.”
The Spartans host Grangeville on Thursday.
n Spartan cross country teams compete at Farragut
Cameron Parkes finished 18th in 18:08 to earn a varsity medal, leading the Spartan cross country team against a loaded field of 5A runner from around the state on Saturday at the Timberlake Invite at Farragut State Park.
Caleb Gleason finished 43rd in 18:55 as the pair competed in the varsity race against some of the fastest runners in the state.
In the JV race, senior Jordan Phillips finished 39th, freshman Conor Berns was 42nd and freshman Travis Matthews was 46th to lead the Spartan boys to an 8th place finish among 14 teams.
“Conor and Travis both improved a ton this race vs. last race. I am excited about these two,” said Spartans head coach Lance Clark. “I know that we have some sleepers with the other boys, and I can’t wait for them to come out of their shell and put on a good race that they will be proud of. We are a young team progressing each week. Our experienced runners are running well in the varsity races. We are working hard to build a solid varsity team by middle season.”
The Spartan girls finished 3rd among 10 teams in the JV race, led by Izzie Schmidt in 20th place, Amber Johnston in 24th, Annika Rantala in 32nd, Sharnai Hogan in 37th and Kymara Fulton in 42nd.
“In the girls, we are a young team with experience and it is showing,” said Clark. “They are getting faster each week and I can’t wait to see them get back to last year’s times.”
Clark, in his 15th season leading the Spartans, is hoping Parkes and Gleason can improve on last year’s 18th and 29th places at state, respectively, to lead a young boys team that includes Jordan Phillips, sr., Kyler Lord, jr., Graden Hanes, so., Travis Mathews, Fr., Conor Berns, Fr., Brian Lord, Fr., Kaden Fulton, Fr.
Annika Rantala was 28th at state last year to lead the girls, and will be looking to drop that mark this time around.
The girls team includes Izzie Schmidt, jr., Sharnai Hogan, jr., Julia Rantala, jr., Amber Johnston, so. Kymara Fulton, so., Erika Swoboda, Fr.
Both Spartan teams are among the best in the IML, and could be better than last year.
“I believe that we are stronger in the boys and we have the ability to be in the girls,” said Clark.
The Spartans are at the Coeur d’Alene Invite on Saturday.
n Sports schedule
Varsity girls soccer vs. Grangeville, 4 p.m.
Varsity boys soccer vs. Grangeville, 2 p.m.
Varsity volleyball vs. Timberlake, 7 p.m.
JV volleyball vs. Timberlake, 5:30 p.m.
JV football @ St. Maries, 6 p.m.
Varsity football vs. St. Maries, 7 p.m.
Varsity boys soccer @ Timberlake, noon.
Varsity girls soccer @ Timberlake, 10 a.m.
Varsity cross country @ Cd’A Invite, TBA.