Dillon tops Miles City at state tourney

Coaches praise young team

The BCHS Lady Beavers made it through three matches at the first Montana State A Volleyball Tournament that any of its team members had played in, knocking out Custer County on Friday morning in Bozeman before bowing out to Butte Central that afternoon.

“This was the girls’ first time going as a state team, and I’m extremely proud of the way they represented our community, BCHS, and our volleyball program,” said Dillon Head Coach Angela Racicot of her team’s foray into the pressure-packed competition played in the intimidating confines of Montana State University’s Brick Breeden Fieldhouse in Bozeman.

“There’s nothing like the State Volleyball Tournament in Bozeman.”

Racicot’s team opened the State Tournament on Thursday against Central Division powerhouse Fergus County, who topped Dillon, 3-1, to start its run to the tourney final.

Racicot believes that with a few breaks and a few less breakdowns, her Lady Beavers could have been the team starting on that journey.

“Obviously, going into State, you know every match will be competitive and a fight. You’re there for the challenge,” said the first-year head coach.

“The first match with Fergus is going to sting for a while knowing we could have won if we cut down our unforced errors.”

After dropping the first two games against Fergus, 13-25, 20-25, the Lady Beavers battled back with a 25-17 third-set win against the team from Lewistown, which closed out the match with a 15-25 win in the fourth game.

“Fergus is an experienced, well-coached team,” commented Racicot.

“Going into the match, I knew we had some nerves with it being our first match at state. We played well at times, but had too many unforced errors in games 1, 2 and 4.

“In game 2, we had it won, but had too many lapses and didn’t take advantage of opportunities. We left the court with regret knowing we could have beat them,” added Racicot, who got 3 blocks from Holly Andersen against Fergus, along with 16 kills from Josee Pendleton, 22 digs by Taryn Judge, 30 assists from Allie Morstein and a 17-digs, 9-kills performance by Courtney Linder.

“However, I know the girls and I are proud of what we achieved and all of the hard work put into not only this season, but the last two seasons with Coach Petersen and Coach Bennett. We wouldn’t have accomplished what we did without them.”

Dillon did achieve a match victory in the double-elimination tournament on Friday morning, when they dropped into the loser’s bracket to play Custer County.

Facing elimination, the Dillon girls rose up to sweep the No. 2 team from the East Division out of the competition, with a victory in three sets, 25-17, 25-23, 25-20.
Dillon’s Josee Pendleton did much of the damage, hammering 13 kills in 28 attempts for an impressive .464 hitting percentage against the team from Miles City.

Taylor Chase also reached double digits in kills, with 10, while Cierra Lamey had 8 and Courtney Linder registered an enjoyed an excellent all-around match with 7 kills and a dozen digs.

Taryn Judge marshaled the Lady Beaver defense with 19 digs, aided by Holly Anderson’s 16 and 7 more digs from Allie Morstein, who led the team with 35 assists.

“Taryn Judge played aggressive and instinctive against the best hitters in the state. She made plays constantly that created momentum for us,” said Racicot of her senior.
“Courtney Linder and Cierra Lamey were fearless on the outside and played great defense in left back. They were on the court every point the whole way around, working every play.”

Racicot also had high praise for her powerhouse, Pendleton.

“Josee Pendleton was solid all the way through. She dominated the other middle blockers from Fergus, Miles City, and Billings Central and really proved she was one of the top middles in all of Class A.”

Friday’s match against Billings Central would prove Dillon’s final of the season, as the Lady Beavers fell to the No. 1 seed from the East Division, 18-25, 12-25, 20-25.

“I felt like Billings Central was stronger than Fergus. Their size was impressive and they have an outside hitter that was borderline unstoppable,” said Racicot, whose team was led in the match by Judge’s 13 digs, Morstein’s 24 assists and Pendleton’s 24 kills.

“We played with them for the first 10 to 15 points, and then just lost momentum. Although we lost, I’m pleased we stayed with our game plan of being aggressive and swinging away.”

Even with their early trip home from Bozeman, the Lady Beavs chalked up their season as an unqualified success that culminated with their remarkable run to the Southwest Divisional Tournament final against eventual state champs Covallis last week and a berth in the State Tournament.

“I'm so glad to have been part of this team, especially with such a successful season that everyone deserved,” said Lamey, a junior who will get to use her experiences at this year’s Divisional and State Tournaments to help BCHS next season.

“All of our hard work over the past few years paid off, as we earned the opportunity to play at the State Tournament.

“State was an awesome experience,” added Lamey, who took time to thank her senior teammates, Judge, Pendleton and Linder.

“The senior girls were great leaders and will be missed.”