Lady Bulldogs show up strong against Billings Central

Hardin Bulldogs volleyball team takes match to four sets
Thursday, October 25, 2018
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Photo by Carl Danelski

Middle hitter Alyssa Pretty Weasel sends the ball against Billings Central Thursday at home. The Lady Bulldogs fought hard in the match, but lost to the Rams in four sets.

It was their third time matched up against Billings Central this season, and Hardin’s Lady Bulldog Volleyball team made their strongest showing yet. According to outside hitter Demi Uffleman, “This last week we shut them down, so they weren’t as much of a force.”

After playing a moderate first two sets, the girls turned up the heat and narrowly missed forcing the match to five. “People might look at it and say you lost the match,” Coach Tiffany Lynch explained, “But if you look at our first two sets compared to our last two sets, it looked like two totally different teams out there.”

The Lady Bulldogs played well, even when faced with Central’s heaviest hitter.

“We didn’t move anybody around,” Coach Lynch said, “But I’d say Demi definitely stepped it up in the back row. In that left back position, she was kind of matched up with Olivia their big hitter for Central…So what was frustrating for their big hitter was she was trying to hit one location and getting blocked by our middles and Jonna, and then trying to turn angle the other location, and we were funneling it straight to our left backs, and our left backs were doing their job, so that was awesome.”

The Lady Bulldogs won the third set and took the fourth set to within two points. Logging the most kills for the match was Demi Uffleman, with 10 of the team’s 36, while right hitter Jonna Lind and middle hitter Mariah Simmons each had seven.

“We didn’t get in our heads as bad as usual about our unforced errors,” Simmons said of the match. “We definitely kept our chins up.”

With assists, the Rams and the Bulldogs were pretty well matched. Sierra Schuster of Billings Central made 30 assists, while Natalie Edgar had 31 for Hardin.

“What definitely stood out for us was our defense,” Lynch said. “And that was how we forced them into being a less caliber team, because we shut them down. Defensively, we kind of shut down their best hitter.”

The team made 79 digs in the match, and Simmons accounted for three and a half of the team’s six blocks. Libero Katie Murdock landed two aces and held a strong back half of the court, especially early on, when the Lady Bulldogs appeared to be in trouble.

Looking forward, Uffleman sounds optimistic. “I think against Central we played as a team, which we’ve kind of been struggling with lately, and I think, if we just continue that even throughout divisionals, we have a strong chance of getting to state and competing.”

Coach Lynch says the practice strategy will be similar to their current course, which she describes as, “tough practices,” and “going hard.” Previously the team had struggled with their effort not quite matching up to the results, but coming out of a strong showing against Billings Central, the Lady Bulldogs look ready for the fight.

“And in the last two sets I don’t know what it was,” Coach Lynch said, “But something clicked and they just turned up the heat and went for it. That is the first set we have taken away from Central in four years. It’s a big step in the right direction for us.

The next match for the Ladies is Thursday at Laurel.