Volleyball teams onto district tournaments
It’s that time of year again.
All of the hard work put in by high school volleyball players across the county has been for this week – the beginning of the post-season.
The local teams wrapped up the regular season last week, looking for some momentum heading into tournament time.
The RPR Renegades finished out the regular season strong last Friday with a win over the Park City Panthers in three games.
Juniors Mercedes Hoff and Jocelyn Ott each put up three aces. Hoff also added nine digs and Ott contributed 10 assists. Half of the 24 Renegade kills were split between sophomore Carlee Blodgett and senior Destiny Ayers with six a piece.
The victory over Park City secured a third place finish for the Renegades in the 4C district with a 9-4 conference record. The four losses all came against first-seed Bridger and second-seed Custer-Hysham.
This week kicks off the volleyball post-season with the district tournament in Absarokee starting on Thursday and lasting through Saturday. The top four teams will advance to the divisional tournament.
RPR will face Plenty Coups in the team’s first game on Thursday at 1 p.m. The Renegades won the only match between the two teams during the regular season.
If RPR is successful in the first game, they will play the winner of the Custer-Hysham vs. Park City match.
The Renegades lost twice to Custer-Hysham in the regular season, so RPR is looking forward to having an opportunity to avenge those losses to the Rebels, according to Coach Teresa Bare.
“We are excited to work hard to earn an opportunity to play in the divisional tournament,” Bare said. “One match at a time!”
The Huskies’ final week of regular season play was representative of the team’s entire season with one win and one loss.
The win came on Tuesday, Oct. 17, in four games against Plenty Coups.
Senior Caitlin Young and sophomore Kennedy Ekwortzel both had big performances for the Huskies. Young had 11 assists and six aces, and Ekwortzel put up eight kills and four blocks. Of the 127 Absarokee digs, senior Hana Kelly led with 27.
The Huskies’ loss came in a four-game, non-conference match against Roy-Winifred on Friday.
Young again had a productive night, putting up eight assists, two aces, and 21 digs. Junior Mallorey Sheppard also had a good showing with six kills and five blocks. Ekwortzel had six kills, and sophomore Kaiya Holmquist earned two aces.
Absarokee ended the season with an even 6-6 conference record, good enough to take the fourth seed.
Last week, Coach Tonya Steffenson said the Huskies will need to bring everything together for the district tournament. She feels like the tournament should be very exciting.
The Huskies will face Roberts at 4 p.m. on Thursday, a match-up Absarokee won earlier in the season.
A win in the first game would mean that the Huskies will most likely face the very tough, first-seeded Bridger Scouts Thursday evening.
The Cougars brought the regular season to a close with a pair of losses to two good teams.
Last Thursday, Columbus fell to Red Lodge in three games.
The first set was well-played by the Cougars, with Columbus maintaining the lead for a large portion of the set, Coach Lindsey Johnson described. The Rams rallied to win that first set, and for the next two sets the Cougars “came out flat.”
Several players led the team’s efforts. Senior Kat Sindelar put up 14 assists and the teams’ only ace. Junior Morgan Kirch put down 10 kills and senior Camryn Ault had 17 digs. Sophomore Brenna Rouane put up two blocks.
Red Lodge is a tough team, so Johnson feels that “the fact that we are able to play with them is very promising for our team if we can pull together for a full match (in districts).”
On Saturday, Columbus fell after three games in a non-conference match-up against Colstrip in another performance Johnson described as flat.
Sindelar had 13 assists and one ace, and senior Maddi Carmen put up nine kills and the team’s other ace. Kirch earned nine digs, and the Cougars’ sole block was shared by Rouane and senior Uluwehi Brooks.
Johnson said the team has discussed consistent play and maintaining control in difficult situations, so she hopes the Cougars will have ironed out all the kinks in time for the district tournament this week.
Class 4B districts will be held in Red Lodge on Friday and Saturday. Only the top two teams will earn a place in divisionals.
The Cougars will be entering the tournament as the fifth seed. They will face the fourth-seeded Roundup Panthers at 9 a.m. Friday morning.
During the regular season, Roundup beat Columbus twice. The second game, however, was very close with the Cougars forcing extra games after being down two sets in the beginning of the match. The Panthers won with a 15-13 score in the fifth set.
If the Cougars come out on top in the first match, they will have to face the first-seeded Huntley Project Red Devils Friday afternoon.
The Panthers dropped the final game of the regular season to RPR last Friday in three very close games.
Park City’s efforts were led by senior Brittany Frank with 12 digs and six kills, by junior Andee Baker with three aces, by junior Blakely Verke with 18 assists and two blocks, and by junior Alyx Grabowska, also with two blocks.
Coach Kate Cristaldi said both teams worked very hard during the match, and if Park City had been able to keep a few more balls inside the court, the sets could have gone in the Panthers’ favor.
Going into districts as the seventh seed, Cristaldi explained that the team is “focusing on cutting down our unforced errors and keeping the ball in play.”
Park City will play the second-seeded Custer-Hysham Rebels on Thursday at 11:30 a.m. During the regular season, the Rebels defeated the Panthers twice.
If Park City can pull out the win Thursday morning, they may have the chance to avenge Friday’s loss to RPR Thursday evening.