Varsity Volleyball team builds steam with two wins

Lady Bulldogs take two consecutive matches in three sets apiece
Thursday, November 1, 2018

Photo by Tony Manolis

Middle hitter Mariah Simmons makes a spot-on tip during the Thursday night match. Simmons, playing a strong front line, made most of the team’s blocks with three and a half.

Photo by Carl Danelski

Demi Uffelman sets up the ball in the three set blitz against the Sidney Eagles. Uffelman ran for 12 of the team’s 57 digs in the match.

Hardin’s varsity volleyball team played two matches this past week, one in Laurel on Wednesday, and the other at home on Thursday against the Sidney Eagles. They took both matches in three sets and continued to improve upon their recent strengths as a team. The keyword was “energy,” according to Head Coach Tiffany Lynch. “The energy stood out in both matches.”

Referring to previous matchups against the Eagles, Lynch added, “We played them in Sidney and actually lost to them in five, and we just did not play well. But we beat them pretty handedly at home. It’s good to see that – losing at the beginning of the season but then beating these teams that we lost to. That happened with Laurel also.”

In the three set victory over Laurel, the Lady Bulldogs showed their ability to rally past a team that had given them trouble earlier in the season. They tallied 35 kills as a squad, with Nicole Green, Mariah Simmons, and Demi Uffelman contributing the highest figures.

Against Sidney, Green made 17 of the team’s 37 kills, and Natalie Edgar set up all of the team’s 35 assists. During that match, defensively the Ladies held the Eagles to under 20 points in every set. The team also scored 11 aces in the match, with Edgar landing 5 and Green, 3.

It was a very fast paced match, and the Bulldogs gave their opponents very little time to rest, which is likely a product of the conditioning emphasized in the last few weeks of practice.

“There’s been a lot more conditioning,” says right hitter Jonna Lind, almost with a bit of exasperation before Monday’s practice. Her teammate Alyssa Pretty Weasel and head coach Lynch both laughed, after which Lynch assured that, “This week we won’t be as focused on the conditioning aspect of it, because we’re getting into postseason. But the intensity of it will still be there.”

The team is in its final preparation for divisional playoffs, and they’ll be relying on the strength they’ve built up throughout the season to carry them through. “Naturally the conditioning will be there because the intensity will be up. We’ll kind of add some conditioning parts to it just to keep them on their toes and working and competing.”

Coach Lynch also feels comfortable with her starting rotation, after experimenting with several strategies throughout the season. “We started with our weakest rotation and that didn’t work, we started with our strongest rotation and that didn’t work, and then I feel like we’ve just been moving people around until we found our starting rotation.”

Looking forward, the team is headed to divisionals and scheduled to meet up against the Park Rangers in Glendive, Wednesday at 8 p.m. Although the Ladies have defeated the Rangers both at the Eastern A Tip-off Tournament in Havre and at Miles City, they need to win three matches as part of the divisional playoff bracket in order to advance to state.

“From a coach’s perspective,” Lynch says, “I’m really optimistic. I feel really good about this team and where we are as a team. We’re starting to click finally, and it took us an entire season, and it was a rough season. It was tough on everybody, but I feel like that’s probably one of the best things that could have happened to us, because we’re closer, and we know all of our flaws, so now we know how to overcome those things.”

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