Lady Beavers finish 4th at Tipoff

By Jess Alberi
Dillon Tribune

Powered by its strong senior players, the BCHS Lady Beavers volleyball team opened its season by earning fourth place and second in the Southwest conference at the annual Northwest/Southwest Class A Tipoff Tournament last weekend in Hamilton.

The Lady Beavs started Friday against Columbia Falls in pool play, which featured a two-game format, with the girls playing a third set to 15 if the teams split the first two sets.

The Lady Beavs got off to a good start for their new head coach, Angela Racicot, by knocking off Columbia Falls 25-22, 25-19.

Dillon’s Courtney Linder led her team with 3 aces and 6 kills in the match.

 In Dillon’s second match of the tourney, Josee Pendleton recorded 4 aces and 6 kills while her Lady Beav teammate Taryn Judge had 10 digs to lead Dillon to 25-23 and 25-13 set wins.

In the next two sets of the tourney, the Dillon girls found themselves matched up against the runner-up team in last year’s state tourney, Frenchtown, which didn’t lose any players from last year’s powerful team.

Dillon fought, but found it tough going, dropping the first set, 25-13. The Lady Beavs actually went up 17-11 in the second set, but the strong Frenchtown team battled back to beat the Lady Beavs.

In their last match on Friday, the Dillon girls took on Polson. The BCHS seniors came together and played great ball, winning 25-22 and 25-16 behind Linder, who recorded 8 kills, and Pendleton, who had 4 aces and 6 kills.
Allie Morstein pitched in with 19 assists and 8 digs, while Judge contributed 13 digs.

“The girls served aggressive and smart the entire weekend and really pushed themselves defensively to cover the floor and not give up on the ball,” said Coach Racicot.

“Throughout the weekend, we continued to try to increase the tempo on offense and not play safe. Right now, we're working through some timing issues offensively, but it's early in the season and we’ll improve with every touch we get on the ball.”

Since the Northwest conference only had five teams in the tourney, Hamilton JV and Corvallis JV split games to make both conferences in the tournament even at six teams apiece.

 Saturday morning, Dillon opened up against Hamilton JV and won 25-21 and 25-11 behind the strong play of junior Cierra Lamey, who had 5 aces, 2 kills, 2 blocks and 5 digs.

Dillon’s last match of pool play saw the Lady Beavs play some of their best ball of the season.

 “It was the best match we played all weekend, statistically and as a team,” said Racicot, an art teacher at BCHS.
“I was impressed with how in sync we were on both sides of the ball and how aggressive we were from point 1 to 25. We never let up and fought for each point.”

The Dillon team posted a combined hitting percentage of .310, with 24 kills to go along with only 6 errors in the match.

The Beaver volleyball team ended pool play at 10-2, tied for first place in the Southwest conference with Corvallis.
The deciding factor for first place came down to point differential throughout their first 12 matches, a metric that awarded first seed to Corvallis and sent second seed Dillon, who were then matched up again against Columbia Falls in the knockout stage of the tourney.

“We had beaten them Friday morning, but didn't play as well as we could have,” commented Racicot.
 “We struggled on free-ball conversion. We hit .000 as a team, and only served 84 percent.”

 Weighed down by those numbers, Dillon lost 25-17 and 25-21 to C Falls, but again saw nice efforts from Judge, Lamey, Pendleton and Holly Andersen.

The Lady Beavers ended the tournament fourth out of a dozen teams, and went 10-4 to place second in the Southwest A.

“Overall, I could not be more proud of the way the girls came out and played," said Dillon’s head coach.
“Our intention and goal for the weekend was to play with intensity, energy and sell out for the ball. We were competitive in every match and never got complacent, which I believe is incredibly important.

 “The tournament provided the girls with the confidence they need early on.”

The Lady Beavers will head to Belgrade on Tuesday, and then play home matches on Thursday at 7 p.m. against Butte Central and Saturday at 4 p.m. against Hamilton.