The Choteau High School volleyball team will play Cut Bank on the road on Thursday, Sept. 16, and will host Shelby on Saturday, Sept. 18.
Matches will start at 4:15 p.m. on Thursday in Cut Bank and will start at 2 p.m. on Saturday at home. C squad, junior varsity and varsity matches are planned on both days.
Last week, the CHS girls defeated Conrad in straight sets and won a five-set match against Class C Manhattan Christian. The Choteau girls are now 4-0 overall and 3-0 in conference.
Choteau’s squad played both matches last week without one varsity player, Bellamy Beadle, who was quarantined because of a COVID-19 exposure, and one without varsity player Sadie Grove, who was recovering from a bone bruise in her foot. Grove returned to the lineup against MCHS and Coach Ann Funk said she hopes to have Beadle back in the lineup this week.
Funk said the varsity girls will focus on honing their defensive skills, including blocking, serve-receive, back-row passing and reading the other side’s offense so they are in position to either block or pick up an attack. “It’s kind of the same stuff each week,” Funk said.
Choteau defeated both Cut Bank and Shelby in the preseason tournament in abbreviated two-set matches. Funk said she expects both teams to have improved since then as Cut Bank had not yet settled on its varsity squad back then and could be a totally different team than the one Choteau already played. Shelby, she said, has a nice group of returning players who play well together and play aggressive volleyball.
Last week, the Choteau varsity squad hamstringed Conrad’s offense, making it difficult for the Cowgirls to score. Choteau’s front-line players did a good job of blocking and the back-row players came up with 45 digs in the game to keep the ball in play. Choteau senior Emma Gunderson was a powerful player on offense from her outside hitting position and on defense when she was in the back, coming up with 10 of Choteau’s 45 digs.
Conrad struggled with Choteau’s serving as the team aced the Cowgirls six times and scored on many other unreturned serves. “I thought we served well. I thought we pushed them out-of-system well, which allowed us to make better attacks,” Funk said.
Coach Funk substituted Maili Miller to fill in for Grove and got good play out of the junior. She also rotated Ella Peach, another junior, into the game as an outside hitter.
The varsity girls were playing in a new rotation that allows Ada Bieler and Gunderson to both play middle back position to take advantage of their quickness. “Defensively, I know that helped us against Manhattan Christian as well,” Funk said.
Choteau’s girls are continuing to improve on offense as the hitters and setter Ella Stott are starting to find their rhythm. The Lady Bulldogs are still working to improve their ability to dig up kill attempts that get through the block.
The Lady Bulldogs faced a very tall Manhattan Christian team last Saturday, a team they had narrowly defeated in a two-set match in the preseason tournament. MHCS was missing two of its tall varsity players in the contest.
The Choteau girls notched a solid 25-18 win in the first set. In the second set, the MCHS girls settled down and did a good job on offense, capitalizing on some Choteau errors to win, 25-20. Funk said Choteau’s girls didn’t play as well defensively in this set, and they were not getting many touches on attacks. “They were just over the top of us, crushing the ball,” she said.
In the third set, both teams battled for each point, and Choteau came out on top, 25-21. Funk made changes with the blocking scheme that paid off, and the girls served more consistently. (Funk said they had nine service errors in the match.) Tessa Brownell substituted in for Stott and did some setting to give Choteau more height at the net.
The Choteau girls wanted to put the match away in the fourth set, but with each team playing great floor coverage and big hitting, they lost, 23-25, setting up the fifth tie-breaking set, which is only played to 15 points.
The momentum swung to the Lady Bulldogs early in the set, and Choteau jumped out to a big lead, putting the match away with the win, 15-6. Choteau got sideout early and went on a run with Stott serving, hard and flat. “She got us going,” Funk said. Taylor Asselstine, Gunderson and Josie Johnson were in the front row for this run. Choteau went on another run with Gunderson serving and Grove just annihilating them with her attacks, Funk said. Bieler was in the back at this time, giving the team extra quickness on defense.
Choteau played MCHS with the new rotation, and Funk said the Choteau girls started to see where they were potentially needed for one particular rotation. “We were able to get Lily Heiberg into the front line to put up some blocks against a 6-2 girl,” she said.
Choteau had 74 digs in the game while MCHS had 91 — showing that both teams were playing scrappy ball and picking up a lot of attacks and freeballs.
The Choteau C squad lost to Conrad, 23-25, 19-25 and 14-16. The CHS JV team won, 25-15, 23-25, 15-4, 15-13.
Against Manhattan Christian, Choteau’s C squad won in three, 25-17, 25-16, 15-11 while the JV squad won in four, 25-15, 25-20, 13-15, 15-7.
Choteau def. Conrad,
25-11, 25-17, 25-17
Choteau — Aces 6 (Ella Stott 3); blocks 5 (Ada Bieler 4); assists 12 (Stott 12); digs 45 (Emma Gunderson 10); kills 30 (Bieler 9).
Conrad — Not available.
Choteau def. Manhattan Christian,
25-18, 20-25, 25-21, 23-25, 15-6
Choteau — Aces 8 (Taylor Asselstine 3); blocks 8 (Ada Bieler 5); assists 20 (Ella Stott 18); digs 74 (Bieler 22); kills 51 (Bieler 14).
Manhattan Christian — Aces 10 (Hope Kenny); blocks 9 (Miranda Wyatt 3.5); assists 35 (Jadyn VanDyken 30); digs 91 (Alexis DeVries 32); kills 39 (Katelyn Vankirk 20, Ava Bellaen 8).