The Choteau High School varsity volleyball team won its first conference match last week, defeating Fairfield High School, 3-1. This week, the Choteau girls traveled to play Great Falls Central Catholic on Sept. 10 and will play Conrad on the road Sept. 12 before playing on their home court Sept. 14 against Cut Bank.
All three matches will count in the girls’ conference record, which stands at 1-0 so far. There will only be junior varsity and varsity matches in Conrad at 5:45 and 7 p.m. while the home matches against Cut Bank will be played at 2 p.m., 3:15 p.m. and 4:30 p.m.
Coach Ann Funk said she does not know much about the GFCC program this year other than they are more similar in size to Choteau than some teams and the private, religious school does have a larger turnout than Choteau does with 20 players. Choteau has played GFCC before in the Lady Bulldogs’ midseason tournament.
Conrad has an even smaller turnout than Choteau this year with only 18 girls out. The Cowgirls are only playing a varsity and junior varsity schedule, not fielding a C squad.
Choteau did play Cut Bank in the preseason tournament and defeated the Lady Wolves in two sets in round robin play.
Funk said the Choteau girls won’t have much time for practice this week with matches on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, but the coaches plan to work with them on serving and serve-receive as well as defensive skills to improve the girls’ ability to earn sideout and get the serve back. Funk said she also plans to work with them on blocking — one of the higher-level skills volleyball players learn and something she wants to start focusing on with her young team.
Choteau senior Nicole Krone, who sat out part of the preseason tournament with a knee injury, was back to play against Fairfield and showed up in the stats twice with six kills and three blocks. Funk said Krone is still playing tentatively and the team will know more about her season after a doctor’s appointment this week. She said she expects Krone to be able to play on Tuesday but will know more after the mid-week appointment.
If Krone is unable to play, Funk said, she’ll call on Ella Stott to help Christine Funk with setting duties and Sadie Grove will be called upon to play across the front.
Funk said she appreciates the caliber of the girls she has on the bench who are willing to work hard to help fill Krone’s shoes.
“I think it says a lot about the kids that we do have that they can just step in and fill those roles,” she said.
But, as a coach, she won’t be able to really plot a course forward until she knows what positions each girl is going to be playing for the rest of the season.
In last week’s away matches, Choteau’s varsity team played a solid first and second game, coming up 25-21 and 25-14 wins over Fairfield Coach Courtney Bake’s varsity squad. In the third set, Choteau struggled on serve-receive and lost, 17-25, but rallied in the fourth set to win, 25-17.
Funk said Choteau’s varsity girls didn’t start with strong play, but battled their way through the first set and found their groove for the win. With that first win, the girls settled down and played a solid second set, but in the third set, Fairfield missed fewer serves and Choteau struggled with passing and hitting errors.
The coach said Choteau’s girls learned from the loss and adjusted so that when they came back in the fourth game, they were able to pass well, serve well and run their offense for the win.
Choteau def. Fairfield 25-21, 25-14, 17-25, 25-17
Choteau leaders — Aces 14 (Ada Bieler 5); blocks 14 (Nicole Krone 3, Christine Funk 3, Ellie Lee 3); assists 21 (Funk 16); digs 68 (Bieler 23); kills 31 (Krone 6, Lee 6).
Fairfield leaders — Aces 3; blocks 6; assists 28 (Cheyenne Maddox 24); digs 30 (Kenna Pitcher 10); kills 32 (Pitcher 8, Kyler Bake 7).