Lady Beavers topple Frenchtown, Hamilton

J.P. Plutt
Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Attack mode

Dillon’s Savannah Hansen pounds a ball into the teeth of the Hamilton defense on Saturday. Hansen, a team leader all season, left the match with an apparent knee injury, the extent of which was unknown on Monday. Teri Haverfield photo

The Dillon Lady Beavers last week extended their undefeated streak to 3-0 on the season with wins at Frenchtown and home versus Hamilton. Dillon rallied from an 0-2 deficit to win the road match on Thursday, 3-2, and then rolled over Hamilton in a three-game sweep Saturday afternoon.

“We started out a little tentative and that always seems to translate to a lot of errors,” said Dillon coach Susanne Valach.

To counter the tepid beginning, Valach switched her alignment from a 5-1 in which senior Tynn Christiansen plays setter all the way around, to a 6-2 with Maddy Ruegsegger rotating with Christiansen as setter from the back row. The tactic gave Dillon two extra hitters per rotation. The added muscle up front spurred the Dillon rally.

Christiansen set 18 assists and Ruegsegger 8 out of the attack. Junior Charli Hazelbaker ripped 7 kills and freshman Evey Hansen 6. Ainsley Shipman, a freshman, led her team from the service line with 5 aces. The team totaled 20.

As has been the case all season, the block on the defensive side of the net has not been a team strength. The Lady Beavers top out at two 5-9 players (Evey Hansen and Evey Hansen), one at 5-8, and the rest at 5-6 or under. Valach has focused a good deal of practice time on getting her team mentally tough and technically sound enough to cover the floor and dig blasts from the other side, and then transition into a solid attack with good passing.

At Frenchtown, Dillon failed to get a solo block and managed 4 block assists through five games. They did however dig 52 balls, 13 by Christiansen and 10 by junior Josey Jones.

It was all Lady Beavers Saturday in a 25-19, 25-17, 15-21 sweep of Hamilton though the win came at a cost. Senior Savannah Hansen went to the floor late in the match with an apparent knee injury. The extent of the injury was not known on Monday afternoon.

To the time of her exit, Savannah served a team-high 4 aces, and she added 4 kills, 2 block assists, and 6 digs. Jones and Jessalyn Zimmerman, a 5-8 junior, led Dillon with 6 kills each, with freshman Evey Hansen knocking down 5. Back in the 5-1, Christiansen set 22 assists.

Defensively, Dillon covered the floor with 49 digs, led by Shylee Ledbetter with 10, Christiansen with 9, and Jones with 8.

In another area of emphasis from the coaching side, Valach has been stressing the need to convert free ball opportunities into solid offensive attack chances.

“We’re really trying to improve our free ball passing,” said the coach. “We were getting a free ball and sending an easy ball right back because we panic half the time. I think our free ball passing has been improving.”

The Lady Beavers will host Butte High on Thursday and Stevensville on Saturday, with varsity scheduled for 7 p.m. and 4 p.m., respectively.

“They’re going to be big, they can hit the ball, and our block is a work in progress, so having that defense there really helps,” said Valach.