Lady Bulldogs recover from ‘rough’ third set to defeat Miles City Cowgirls

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Photo by Andrew Turck

Lady Bulldog middle hitter Jonna Lind blocks a shot by an opposing Miles City Cowgirl during a Saturday afternoon match-up in the Hardin High School gymnasium. The purple mark on her right wrist, stating “KLS,” is in honor of the late Kara Lee Schwend of St. Xavier, for whom the team has dedicated its season.

Thanks to well-executed sets and strikes, Hardin’s Lady Bulldog volleyball team powered through a third-set loss during a Saturday home game and defeated the Miles City Cowgirls by the fourth. Final scores for the sets – in order – were 25-18, 25-17, 16-25 and 25-19.

The Ladies’ playing “went flat” in the third, according to Head Coach Tiffany Lynch, and though issues remained into the next set, her team was able to reclaim some lost momentum for the win. Leading into the third, they had maintained a comfortable lead.

“The third match was pretty rough,” said Natalie Edgar, setter for the Ladies. “We were tired, but we still competed and pushed.”

Complicating matters, Lynch said, were some “big hitters” on the Cowgirls’ side, who served line, or – as she described – “straight down the antenna” of the net. To counteract Miles City’s strategy, the Ladies set up blockers to funnel their opponents’ shots to the left side of the court.

Once the Cowgirls were boxed in, Edgar helped the Hardin offense prepare a familiar rhythm of sets, aims and strikes. While Edgar’s role of bumping the ball is less flashy than the kill shots of her fellow players, Lynch – who called her the “quarterback” of the team – said the Ladies “wouldn’t have done well” without her.

In addition, Lynch added, “Our outsides did an excellent job of just hitting the ball and moving the ball around, and making the other team work for it.”

“When they are having fun and have lots of energy,” Lynch said, “they play really, really well together.”

During the Miles City game, Hardin players wore purple ribbons on both their jerseys and the backs of their shoes in honor of Kara Lee Schwend, who died Dec. 10, 2017 at her St. Xavier ranch. Edgar made special mention that a purple smudge on her hand was supposed to read “KLS” with a heart, but it had rubbed off during the match.

Schwend, according to Lynch, “was really close to a lot of the girls and a lot of the girls were really close to her.” Schwend’s son Conner, she continued, is on the high school football team and her son Steven is one of the football coaches. She also was related to two of the team’s coaches.

“They chose to dedicate their whole season to Kara,” Lynch said of her players. “This was a decision of the girls. They wanted to wear a purple ribbon.”

Next in their season, Lynch said, Hardin has “two important mental games”: one against Billings Central in an away match on Thursday and another against Glendive in a home match on Saturday. Glendive’s Red Devils had knocked them out of Eastern A divisionals last year, she continued, while Central’s Lady Rams have a habit of getting “in our head.”

For their upcoming challenges, Edgar said, the Ladies need to improve on “communication” and strategic shot placement.

Edgar led Hardin in both assists with 22 of 26 total and in blocks with two of five. In addition, Mariah Simmons was the go-to for kill shots with 12 of 33 total, Kailee Roan and Simmons for aces with three each of eight, and Nicole Green and Roan for digs with 16 each of 60.

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