Lady Beavers survive and advance to state

J.P. Plutt
Wednesday, November 10, 2021
You go girl

Members of the Dillon Lady Beavers react to freshman Kylie Konen’s (12) play at the net during a battle with Polson on Thursday evening. J.P. Plutt photo

The Dillon Lady Beavers placed fourth at the Western C Divisional Volleyball Tournament on Saturday to qualify for this weekend’s State A tourney that will be held in an All-Class format at Brick Breeden Fieldhouse on the campus of Montana State in Bozeman. The Lady Beavers will play the second match of the tournament at 10 a.m. against Billings Central, the topseed from the Eastern A.

“We’re very excited to go to state,” said Dillon coach Charelle Hinkey. “We know that Billings Central is going to be a really tough team. They have finished at the top of state the last few years so they’re going to be looking for another state championship and it is really going to be fun to upset them.”

According to the scouting report, Billings Central runs a quick offense and they like to pound the ball.

“The main thing is we have to really transition quickly, so our blockers really have to watch their hitters and make sure that they know who is hitting so they can get up and put up a block,” said Hinkey about defending Billings Central. “Then our defenders really have to be soft on defense, but move quickly around the block.”

According to the coach, the team goal is to win the state A championship. The easiest path would be to win the first match against Billings Central and stay on the winner’s bracket side. A loss to Central would not eliminate Dillon but they would have the tough route through an augmented bracket. Because the West has 12 teams, it sent five to state, while the East sent four of eight, for a nine-team bracket. A more seamless bracket would have put five teams from the West and three teams from the East in an 8-team bracket. In any event, the Dillon-Billings Central loser will go to an extra match Friday morning at 8 a.m., and then if victorious, to another match at noon on Friday. A win there would send the team to a third match on Friday at 4 p.m. and a win there would send the team to yet another match Friday at 8 p.m. The Billings Central-Dillon loser could play four matches in 12 hours on Friday should they continue to win.

Dillon opened with a 3-0 win over Libby at the Western A Divisional at Ronan. With a backdrop of the Mission Mountains, Dillon would win two matches, lose two and finish fourth.

After the opening win, Dillon dropped a 3-0 match to eventual tourney champion Polson. On game three, Hinkey sent in 5-11 freshman Kylie Konen, who had not played a minute of varsity game time all season. Konen immediately gave Dillon a defensive presence at the net and earned a front row rotation through the end of the season. Konen played in five of Dillon’s 10 tourney games and totaled six blocks, one-half of Dillon’s entire total of their four game tourney run.

“Kylie is a very level-headed player which is crazy to see out of a freshman,” said Hinkey. “She did a great job of stepping in and we told her, her one job was to put up the big block and she did that. It has been really exciting to watch her grow and watch the excitement it brings to the team as she does good things and gets everybody fired up.”

Dillon lost the Polson match, 3-0, but came back on Friday to beat Columbia Falls 3-2 after dropping the first two games. A second member of the undefeated JV team, Sydney Petersen, a 5-6 sophomore, made an impact for Dillon in the win.

Dillon lost 3-1 to Ronan in their next match to place fourth. Ronan advanced to beat Corvallis (third) and forced Polson to the “if necessary” game before falling 1-3 and into second place.

Hamilton rallied for the fifth and final state tourney birth.