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It started a year ago.

The Lady Indians set the goal to make the state tournament. Thursday night they achieved that goal.

Preston captured the district tournament title and with it the automatic berth to the state tournament next week. Hosting the tournament, the Indians beat Pocatello in four, 25-16, 24-26, 25-22, 25-10.

“From the end of last season these ladies have had a goal to get to state,” Preston head coach Karaska Haskell said. “Coming into tonight they knew it was the final step to get that goal. Pocatello pushed hard tonight and really made us rely on each other to make plays happen.”

Which is what the Indians from Franklin County did against the Indians of the Gate City. After dropping the second set in a close battle, Preston responded by grinding out a close third-set win.

“We served tough from the line to get them out of system, which really helped us when our hitting wasn’t as strong as normal,” Haskell said.

After taking the third set and having a 2-1 advantage, the hosts rolled in the fourth. Perhaps Pocatello got tired as it had to beat Century earlier in the evening. Preston took full advantage of winning the regular season title and the opportunity to host.

Khloe Hobson led Preston with nine kills, while Hailey Winward and Hannah Stephenson added seven finishers each. Adree Selley served up six aces, and Dru Despain added three. Matti Whitehead led the defense with 32 digs. Stephenson recorded 27 assists.

“These ladies fought with their hearts to really be able to punch their ticket to state,” Haskell said. “We are honored to be representing our district and can’t wait to go fight at state.”

Preston will begin play at the state tournament on Oct. 30 at 8 a.m. at Kimberly High School. The championship will be on Oct. 31.

Shawn Harrison is the sports editor at The Herald Journal. He can be reached at sharrison@hjnews.com or 435-792-7233.

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