‘We’re already competing’

Hardin volleyball team builds up energy, confidence for 2018 season
Thursday, August 30, 2018

Photo by Tony Manolis

Demi Uffelman, outside hitter for Hardin’s Lady Bulldogs, goes for a spike across the net Friday against Livingston’s Lady Rangers. Hardin took down the Rangers in pool play 25-15, 25-4 for their first unofficial win of the season.

With their first season outing at the Eastern A Tipoff Tournament in Havre this weekend, Head Coach Tiffany Lynch said Hardin’s Lady Bulldog volleyball team “stuck with it” and “every single match…just got a little bit better.”

Pool play – with two sets to 25 – began Friday and resulted in the Ladies picking up two wins against Livingston and Laurel, and two losses to Belgrade and Billings Central. Scores were 25-15, 25-4 with Livingston; 25-21, 25-13 with Laurel; 24-25, 4-25 with Belgrade; and 14-25, 17-25 with Billings Central.

Saturday, the Ladies took on Miles City for a 25-20, 25-11 victory, followed by a second match-up with Belgrade – a team who outside hitter Nicole Green and libero Katie Murdock described as a “big” group that “hit hard.” They fell to Belgrade again, but with a closer second set at 21-25, 13-25.

For the last match of the tournament, they played a full game against Lewistown, but lost in three sets with final scores of 25-16, 21-25 and 15-8.

In future competitions, Green said, the Ladies need to better adjust to situations within the game, especially “out-of-system” plays that Lynch described as “anything that’s not just a bump, set, spike.” They also need to be “more scrappy,” Murdock added, by going for the challenging saves.

“They’re naturally an energetic group, but when they start feeling pressure, you can see them sink into themselves and lose their confidence,” Lynch said. “We need to work on… keeping that energy and confidence up.”

To help them on that path, the team has five returning starters: Green, Murdock, Natalie Edgar, Mariah Simmons and Demi Uffelman. Of the starters this year, the team voted in their four seniors – Murdock, Simmons, Uffelman and Shy Blacksmith. Green and the other underclassmen starters, Lynch said, weren’t far behind in the vote tally.

The subject of team captains is an “inside joke,” Lynch said, because she started crying after the vote when she spoke to her players on the seniors’ importance to the Ladies. According to Lynch, this was the first time the team picked their captains in this manner.

“I had a feeling it would end up that way,” she said. “It’s nice to see the starting six or seven girls are the ones leading the team and the ones who everybody looks up to. That makes me feel good and something the team should be proud of as well.”

Moving into regular competitions, Lynch said, she’s excited because “it’s already the best year we’ve had.” For the week, she had a sheet aimed at improving the team’s skills in freeball passing, blocking, jousting at the net and serve-receive plays.

Compared to last year, Green said, it feels like “we’re already competing.”

This Friday, the Ladies will be traveling to Cody, Wyoming for the annual Border Wars Tournament.

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