The Choteau High School volleyball teams competed at Rocky Boy, Broadwater County High School and Manhattan Christian High School last week with varied results.
The CHS varsity squad, playing without middle hitter Lily Heiberg, who is injured, and without starting senior libero Katie Major, whose father died unexpectedly on Oct. 8, defeated Rocky Boy in a match played at the Stone Child College, winning in straight sets.
In a pair of nonconference road matches on Oct. 9, the Choteau varsity squad lost, 3-2, to the Broadwater High School Bulldogs in Townsend and then traveled on the same day to Manhattan, where they played the Manhattan Christian team and lost in straight sets.
The Choteau varsity girls are now 6-0 in conference play and 8-2 overall in full match play this season.
Choteau’s junior varsity and C squads also played last week. At Rocky Boy, the junior varsity team won, 25-6, 25-9, 15-8. At Townsend, the C squad won, 25-13, 25-12, 15-8, and the JV team lost 25-20, 25-13, 12-15, 10-15, 11-15. At Manhattan Christian, Choteau’s C squad won, 25-21, 25-23, 10-15, 15-13, and the JV squad won, 25-17, 25-21, 7-15, 15-9.
The remaining matches in Choteau’s regular season schedule are at home against Cut Bank on Oct. 14, at home against Fairfield (for senior night) on Oct. 18 (in a change from the published schedule), on the road against Shelby on Oct. 19 and at Conrad on Oct. 23.
Choteau’s seniors who will be honored Monday night are: Emma Gunderson, Josie Johnson, Bellamy Beadle, Sadie Grove, Taylor Asselstine and Katie Major.
Coach Ann Funk on Sunday said she was inspired by the effort Choteau’s girls put into last week’s matches in the face of overwhelming grief at the loss of Katie’s dad, Mark Major, who died in a Great Falls hospital from a swift-moving infection that attacked his mechanical heart valve. He was 45.
She said the girls gathered at practice last Thursday afternoon and spent the time laughing and crying with Katie and sharing sweet and funny stories about her dad.
For many of these girls, this is the first experience they have had with tragedy and they are just learning how to deal with such sadness and still find a way to move forward, Funk said.
Playing without Katie at Townsend and Manhattan Christian, Funk said, the girls rallied to face teams that had a significant height advantage and used it to the full extent. Choteau had defeated Townsend and MCHS earlier in the season, but when they played Townsend, they were at full strength, and when they played MCHS, that team was missing two six-foot-plus hitters that were on the court last Saturday night.
Funk said Choteau’s girls lost the first two sets with Townsend, and then dug deep and won the next two, forcing a tie-breaking fifth match. Down, 3-10, in that final set to 15, Choteau’s girls rallied again and got to 13 before the Townsend girls were able to put it away with a 15-13 win.
“These kids battled back and it was great,” Funk said, adding that she just wanted the girls to give the match their all and to be proud of how hard they worked when they walked off the court.
After that grueling match, the kids then got on their bus and drove from Townsend to Manhattan, where they faced a very strong Class C team.
“Height matters and year-round volleyball matters,” Funk said, noting that MCHS had tall players who spend six months a year playing volleyball. Their experience and their ability to use their height showed in their play, she said.
The Choteau girls struggled to get blocks at the net and to dig up powerful hits from the MC girls.
She said her girls fought for every point and played their hearts out. “I give them so much credit for that,” she said.
This week the girls will continue to practice and aim to close out their season with four consecutive conference wins.
“These kids have done well. They’ve worked hard. They have great positive attitudes,” Funk said of her team.
Choteau def. Rocky Boy,
25-10, 25-9, 25-5
Choteau leaders — Aces 17 (Tessa Brownell 8); blocks 6 (Taylor Asselstine 3); assists 15 (Brownell 8); digs 32 (Ada Bieler 9); kills 20 (Bieler 7).
Rocky Boy leaders — Unavailable.
Townsend def. Choteau,
25-21, 25-10, 21-25, 14-25, 15-13
Choteau leaders — Aces 10 (Emma Gunderson 4, Taylor Asselstine 4); blocks 6 (Asselstine 5); assists 46 (Tessa Brownell 24, Ella Peach 16); digs 82 (Sadie Grove 21); kills 50 (Ada Bieler 12).
Townsend leaders — Unavailable.
Manhattan Christian def. Choteau,
25-17, 25-20, 25-15
Choteau leaders — Aces 5; blocks 2 (Ada Bieler 2); assists 18 (Ella Peach 10) digs 54 (Peach 12); kills 19 (Sadie Grove 7).
MC leaders — Unavailable.