Volleyball

The District 1B volleyball tournament is on tap this week in a much different format because of COVID-19 precautions.

The seven teams in the district will play matches Thursday, Friday and Saturday. On Thursday and Friday, the team with the higher seed will host the match at their own school. The teams remaining in the tournament on Saturday will play at the Conrad gym.

No bands or student sections will be allowed. Each uniformed player and alternate has four tickets to give to their guests. Managers, cheerleaders and coaches each receive two tickets for guests, according to Choteau High School Athletic Director John Shepherd. Only people with tickets will be admitted to the gyms during the three-day tournament. The matches will be broadcast on the National Federation of High Schools online network.

The Choteau High School Lady Bulldogs are the top seed in the tournament with an undefeated 1B record. Following are Fairfield in second, Shelby in third, Conrad in fourth, Cut Bank in fifth, Great Falls Central Catholic in sixth and Rocky Boy in seventh.

First round pairings on Thursday are Conrad and Cut Bank at Conrad, Shelby and GFCC at Shelby and Fairfield and Rocky Boy at Fairfield.

Choteau will have a bye in the first round of the tournament and will play on Friday against the winner of the Conrad-Cut Bank match. Coach Ann Funk on Sunday said she believes the match on Friday will start at 5 p.m., but match times are still being determined. Fans can check with the CHS office at 466-5303 later this week to check that time.

First round pairings on Thursday are Conrad and Cut Bank at Conrad, Shelby and GFCC at Shelby and Fairfield and Rocky Boy at Fairfield.

Matches on Saturday in Conrad are set for 9:30 a.m., 12 p.m., and 2:30 p.m. The championship match is set for 5 p.m. The tournament is not a true double elimination as there will not be a second if needed championship match.

The Choteau girls were 15-1 on Sunday and will make up their final match against Conrad (postponed because of weather over the weekend) on Monday night. If they win that match, as they are favored to do, they will finish the season 16-1 overall and 11-0 in conference. Their only loss is to Manhattan Christian, the defending Class C state champion.

Last week, the Lady Bulldogs played nonconference Fort Benton on the road in a match scheduled to make up for the cancellation of the Rocky Boy match. The CHS varsity players defeated Fort Benton, 25-16, 25-18, 25-16. Choteau’s C squad won its match against Fort Benton, 25-15, 25-7, 15-4 and the junior varsity squad won, 25-13, 25-18, 15-6.

Coach Funk said the coaches and the girls had a lot of fun going to Fort Benton. Funk said she hadn’t been back in that gym since she was a Class C coach and remembered that when she was in high school at Choteau, the Fort Benton teams were part of the same athletic division and she remembers playing volleyball and basketball there.

The girls just had fun playing a new opponent. “They were excited to play,” Funk said, and the match was fun to watch as Fort Benton played aggressively and worked hard to put down kills against Choteau.

Defensively, the girls did what they needed to do for the win, Funk said, especially with their aggressive serving that pulled the Lady Longhorns out of position as they struggled on serve-receive. Choteau’s hitters all had good nights, helping the Bulldogs win with 37 kills.

On Oct. 23, the Lady Bulldogs traveled to Shelby, where they played a C squad and a varsity match. The Choteau C squad won, 25-8, 25-9, 15-6, and the varsity won, 25-13, 25-18, 25-15.

Coach Funk said Shelby was at a distinct disadvantage in both matches. “I give Shelby all the credit,” she said. “I can’t imagine the position they were in. They got off quarantine on Thursday and gathered for the first time in 14 days and then they played us Friday.”

Despite not practicing for two weeks, she said, the Shelby girls worked hard to block Choteau’s hits and to dig up a lot of balls, but the effort was not enough to overcome Choteau’s disciplined play. The Lady Bulldogs controlled the first and third sets, and Funk was able to rotate in some JV players during those two sets.

In the second set, Choteau was plagued by hitting, serving, passing and setting errors and trailed Shelby early, but the girls settled down in the third set and played with fewer errors. Funk said the match was tough and the Choteau girls were not happy with how they played, but they worked through the adversity and came out as winners.

STATISTICS

Choteau def. Fort Benton, 25-16, 25-18, 25-16

Choteau leaders — Aces 5 (Anna Stutz 5); blocks 9 (Ellie Lee 3); assists 28 (Christine Funk 18); digs 75 (Funk 17, Ada Bieler 17); kills 37 (Lee 9).

Fort Benton leaders — Not available.

Choteau def. Shelby, 25-13, 25-18, 25-15

Choteau leaders — Aces 10 (Ada Bieler 3, Christine Funk 3); blocks 5 (Ellie Lee 4, Funk 1); assists 18 (Funk 15, Emma Gunderson 3); digs 53 (Gunderson 15, Anna Stutz 11); kills 25 (Gunderson 9, Bieler 5, Lee 5).

Shelby leaders — Not available.