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All-Stars take Mission volleyball court by storm

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T. IGNATIUS – Spikers, blockers, and diggers came together as Mission hosted the third annual volleyball All-Star match Wednesday to celebrate another great season of net action and to honor All-Star athletes that were chosen by their coaches to play.

Two teams consisting of athletes from Bigfork, Hot Springs, Ronan, Charlo, Arlee and Mission came together to put their regular season rivalry aside for a three-set match filled with sportsmanship and laughs. Though some coaches wanted to send four or five players, according to Mission Coach Kendal Anderson, they were limited to two or three picks with the goal of each All-Star team only rostering nine to ten players. Keeping the teams smaller allows for more play time for the All-Stars with nobody having to sit for long.

Coached by Polson’s Jan Toth, the Darks team included Mission’s Lindsay Johnson, Lady Pirates Jaiden Toth and Libby Clay, Arlee Scarlet Violet Pablo, Charlo Lady Viking Sienna Brown, Ronan Maiden Sydnee Clairmont plus Marissa Hiza and Abbie Fraley from Bigfork and Makenzi Skellenger from Hot Springs.

The Lights team consisted of Maidens Kendra Starkel and Danielle Richwine, Polson’s Haley Fyant, Charlo’s Mikaylan Roylance, Lady Bulldogs Emilie Charlo and Shania Dubois, Scarlet Becca Whitesell, Lana Berg from Bigfork and Josey Carr from Hot Springs.

The Lights were coached by Melody Strauss, head coach of the Bigfork Valkyries.

With sports like basketball and football organizing All-Star games each year, Anderson believes volleyball should have one, too.

“They do it for all these other sports,” Anderson said. “We just thought since we have such a close knit valley, why not include volleyball? These girls, some of them don’t play these other sports so we thought it was a good way to get recognition as well.”

With the best of the best on each side, competition was stiff with each of the three sets staying close but in the end the Lights prevailed, picking up the All-Star victory and the right to play the next single set match — players vs. coaches, a new addition this year to the All-Star event. The Darks had to accept the fate of becoming coaches and officials.

Jaiden Toth and Clairmont each donned a whistle, officiating over the “coaches vs. players” match, each trying their hardest to put on their stern referee face, neither accomplishing much more than an ear to ear grin. Under the guidance of Bigfork’s Hiza and Fraley, the coaches pulled out a miraculous win against the Lights although whispers in the stands told the story of unfair play as the coaches may have taken too many “oxygen breaks.”

All in all, Volleyball All-Stars brought fun and smiles both from players and spectators alike. After started as an idea from Lady Bulldog’s Assistant Coach Annie Morigeau — also responsible for organizing the event in it’s third year — All-Stars is making a mark, giving athletes and fans something positive to look forward. Though the senior All-Stars have played their final high school match, they will end on a happy note with fond memories ingrained forever.

While Wednesday was not what Anderson would consider the best day for the event because there were less spectators, she believes each year volleyball All-Stars is becoming more popular both with participating teams and fans.

“This just keeps growing,” Anderson said. “I think this is something that is gradually getting bigger and bigger.”

For Lady Pirate Coach Jan Toth, the All-Star experience has been rewarding.

“I will say that it has been really great to watch the different Mission Valley top players come together and play for one night that is intended for a fun, low stress, competitive match. This great group of student athletes are fun to watch at any level,” Toth said. “Watching what Kendal (Anderson) and the Mission coaching staff and community make this happen has been special for each athlete.” 

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