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Lady Pirates begin season with solid all-around talent

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POLSON – With four returning seniors, the Polson Lady Pirates are hoping for a strong offensive showing in the 2016 volleyball season. Second-year Head Coach Patty Luetzen lost her top defensive line, but preseason practices look promising in this area.

“After looking at our physical testing, like shuttle runs and vertical jumps, this is the fastest team I have ever coached,” Luetzen said. “We can beat big teams with this.”

After losing All-Conference libero, Lydia Dupuis and defensive backs Shawna Lenz and Marlee Congdon, Luetzen was worried that she wouldn’t find replacements.

“In addition to her physical talent, Lydia was the voice of the team,” Luetzen said. “She really did everything I asked of her.”

Returning to the gym last week, Luetzen was impressed with juniors Laurel Bitterman and Kyler Lundeen, who were eager to fill leadership roles.

“These two girls had the physical talent already, but have stepped up their communication responsibilities,” Luetzen said.

In addition, senior outside hitters Chadelle Smith and Haley Fyant will be adding back row responsibilities to their game.

“These two girls have shown me in preseason that their ball-handling skills are as important as their already proven hitting skills,” Luetzen said.

Rounding off the top players are returning senior middle blocker Lauren Lefthand, outside hitter Hannah Fryberger, and junior setter-hitter Kaelyn Smith.

“Kaelyn is expected to play multiple roles because I want her in every play,” Luetzen said. “Fryberger and Lefthand will be playing the front row at the opening tipoff tournament.”

Along with the new roster, the Lady Pirates gained new Assistant Coach Lizzy Cox. “Both of my assistants are former D-1 athletes,” Luetzen said. “Kevin Owen and Lizzy bring a level of intensity that very few teams have in their coaching staff and I am very fortunate for that.”

The Polson Lady Pirates start their season with a tournament this coming weekend, Aug. 26-27, in Whitefish.

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