LAPWAI — During a team meeting before the Idaho 1A Division I volleyball tournament championship match, each player on Troy High School’s relatively shallow roster specified a person to whom she was dedicating the match — a relative, a friend, anyone.
Sophomore outside hitter Morgan Blazzard chose Lindsey Kwate. Then the two of them, along with their teammates, put their all-for-one attitude on display one final time.
Kwate delivered 16 kills in her final high school match and Blazzard added nine kills and as many digs Saturday as the Trojans convincingly swept The Ambrose School 25-13, 25-21, 25-8 at Lapwai High School.
It was the Trojans’ 12th state title in school history, their second in a row and their third in four years. But a series of personnel issues, stretching from the summer to shortly before the postseason, had forced them to dig deeper this time — and reconfirm some longtime bonds.
“We were just playing for each other,” Blazzard said. “Lindsey Kwate and I have played volleyball together since we were in kindergarten. Just coming here (to State), living the dream, coming together — that’s what we’ve been working on.”
The Trojans began their day with a 25-18, 25-17, 25-23 win against District II rival Genesee, dropping the Bulldogs into the losers’ bracket. Genesee then was relegated to third place with a 25-23, 16-25, 25-15, 25-22 loss to Ambrose.
In recent months, Troy’s projected varsity and JV roster dwindled by about 10 players, for various reasons, and the final blow came a few weeks ago when two prominent reserves were lost to academic problems.
“Small schools — we know everybody and we’re so close that, if there’s any type of adversity, the whole team feels it — it’s not just one person,” said Troy coach Debbie Blazzard, who is Morgan’s mother. “These girls mean a tremendous amount to me. When they go through something, I feel like it’s me.”
None of this strife was evident at the state tournament, where the Trojans marched to four straight-set victories to finish the season 27-3. Their most dominant set was their final one, when Kwate ruled much of the action and twice produced back-to-back kills, the second time as Blazzard was serving late in the match.
Ambrose, a private school in Meridian, placed second to the Trojans for the second consecutive year.
“Troy is amazing,” Archers coach Rhonda Smith said. “They did an excellent job and they picked us apart.
“Four and 5,” she said of Kwate and Blazzard, “just run the court.”
Troy used pinpoint serving to neutralize Ambrose middle blocker Mia Trotter, whose powerful hitting had bedeviled Genesee in the previous match.
“We just tried to serve really hard so they couldn’t set her up,” Debbie Blazzard said.
Abbygael Weller was 12-for-12 serving with 11 points for the Trojans, Kwate tallied five digs and Isabelle Raasche had 26 assists.
“It’s just surreal,” Kwate said. “We fought so hard. There were so many things we had to overcome throughout the season. Even during the summer, we were going through stuff.”
Afterward, hugs abounded. The longest and most tearful was between Kwate and Morgan Blazzard.
Genesee finished the season 26-9, opening State with two straight-set wins before losing its momentum late in a hard-fought first set against Troy.
Lucie Ranisate collected a combined 26 kills in the two Genesee losses.
The format of the double-elimination tournament did no favors to the Bulldogs, whose loss to Troy was followed immediately by its matchup with Ambrose, which was coming off a two-hour rest after beating Butte County 25-10, 18-25, 25-17, 25-21.
“It’s hard to turn around that fast, but no excuses,” Genesee coach Pete Crowley said. “Give them credit. They took it from us.”
It was the 22nd consecutive State appearance for the Bulldogs, who won the title under Crowley in 2013 and had claimed four before that.
District II has now captured the state title six of the past seven years.
Grummert may be contacted at daleg@lmtribune or (208) 840-2290.