The Choteau High School Lady Bulldogs notched two more wins last week and played well at the Boulder invitational tournament. This week the girls will host Fairfield on Oct. 10 and travel to Townsend on Oct. 12.
The Lady Bulldogs will play three matches against Fairfield, with the C squad match starting at 4:15 p.m., junior varsity at about 5:45 p.m. and varsity at about 7 p.m. In Townsend, the C squad will start at 1 p.m., junior varsity at 2:15 p.m. and varsity at about 3:30 p.m.
The Choteau girls are now 9-0 overall and 7-0 in conference play and remain the number one team in the Northern District 1B. The girls are entering the second half of the regular season and working on mastering higher level skills for the District 1B tournament, Nov. 1-2, in Choteau.
In practice this week, the team will continue to focus on honing a snappy defense that can successfully take on teams with much taller players. Coach Ann Funk said the girls need to always be better and smarter at understanding the situations the other team is going to hand them on offense so they can be in the right position to defend the floor.
“We just aren’t that big, and we need to be in the right spot,” she said, adding, “We just have to keep working on our defense and floor coverage, on our service and serve-receive, so we get a really good swing on that first ball.”
Funk said her team is continuing to improve with more experience. “I still feel that we are young, and we always need to keep our composure and control those things that we know are in our own hands, like serving and serve-receive.”
Funk expects two tough matches this week.
“I’m just always impressed with Fairfield,” she said, adding that she has known the Eagles players, many of whom are her own daughter’s age, for a long time. “I really like those kids,” Funk said. “They are athletic and talented, and if they play to their potential, it’s going to be a huge test for us. Plus, we have that rivalry thing going on.”
Funk said she always tries to downplay the rivalry and push the idea that the Choteau girls can control their own game and that’s what they need to do.
Choteau beat both Fairfield and Townsend earlier in the season, but Funk said both teams have improved and Townsend will play Choteau with a full varsity team this time. When they played in Choteau earlier this season, Townsend was missing several varsity starters.
“We’re going to have to be defensive minded,” she said, adding that Townsend has tall girls who will be able to block Choteau.
Last week, Choteau defeated Great Falls Central Catholic in a conference match, 3-0, and downed Belt, a powerhouse Class C team, also in straight sets but by a closer margin: 25-23, 25-16 and 27-25.
Funk said playing Belt was the highlight of the week, as the scrappy Class C team played hard against Choteau in a high-energy, intense match.
“The kids played ball for ball, and it was fun,” she said.
Belt had some big, tall, powerful girls who ran a fast offense, and pushed Choteau to defend against it.
The Choteau girls won the match at least in part because of their outstanding floor coverage, coming up with 108 digs to Belt’s 63.
“I think we just have some very quick back-row players,” she said. “We just covered the floor.”
Emma Gunderson led the team in kills, striking from her outside position as center Ellie Lee drew the defense away.
Choteau was on the road for the Jefferson County High School invitational tournament on Oct. 5. Choteau competed in two-set matches with each game played to 21 in a time-limited match. If the match bumped up against the time limit it was stopped.
Choteau defeated Florence-Carlton, 21-20 in the first set, and was leading, 17-9, in the second when the time limit expired. Funk noted that Florence-Carlton was playing without its main hitter, who had rolled an ankle.
Choteau split with Colstrip, winning the first set, 21-20, and losing the second by a score of about 18-21; and split with Joliet, losing the first set, 16-21, and then winning the second, 21-11. The girls defeated Roundup, 21-12 and 21-18.
Funk said she is pleased with where her team is at now and hopes that everyone who is coming to watch the team is enjoying how hard the girls play. “All the kids have done really well,” she said.
Lee has been the team’s most consistent blocker while Nicole Krone is the most solid hitter, but Gunderson had a great match against Belt and all the varsity starters are getting great backup from the bench, including Katie Major, Amy McKenzie and Bellamy Beadle.
Plus, Funk said, the girls on the junior varsity and C squad are working hard too and improving throughout the season.
“I just love watching these kids and how they put it all together,” Funk said. “It’s just fun.”
Choteau def. GFCC,
25-8, 25-10, 25-17
Choteau leaders — Aces 7 (Abby McCollom 5); blocks 2 (Ellie Lee, Taylor Asselstine); assists 28 (Christine Funk 26); digs 75 (Ada Bieler 19); kills 32 (Nicole Krone 10).
GFCC leaders — Aces 0; blocks 3 (Gracie Williams, Grace Madill, Faith Madill); assists 14 (G. Madill 10); digs 64 (Amanda Joyce 17, Mari Anderson 15); kills 14 (Brenna Woodfin 7).
Choteau def. Belt,
25-23, 25-16, 27-25
Choteau leaders — Aces 11 (Abby McCollom 4); blocks 12 (Ellie Lee 5); assists 31 (Christine Funk 23); digs 108 (Nicole Krone 25, Christine Funk 25); kills 37 (Emma Gunderson 12).
Belt leaders — Aces 0; blocks 8 (Kolby Pimperton 2, Brooke Schraner 2, Shelby Paulson 2); assists 25 (Pimperton 24); digs 63 (Adelle Meissner 31); kills 28 (Abby Gliko 12, Kyelie Marquis 11).