Lady Vikings sweep through districts to claim first title in 4 years
CHARLO — The Lady Vikings hardly broke a sweat in winning their first district championship since 2006. The tournament host didn’t drop a set Friday or Saturday going 9-0 in their three matches and will enter the Western C Divisional Tournament with a 25-game win streak.
Fueled by the hard hitting of sophomore Rachel Hoyt and the sniper-like attack of Deondra Brown, the Lady Vikings took care of the Savage Heat 25-15, 25-23, 25-10 to open the tournament and then took care of the Arlee Scarlets 25-21, 25-8, 25-14 in the undefeated match Saturday. They faced the Scarlets, the only team to beat the Lady Vikings in the regular season, in the championship match and quickly took care of them 25-16, 25-21, 25-19.
“We’re really learning to play together, we gel together now,” said the hard-hitting Hoyt, who finished with 30 kills in three matches. “Now that it’s the end of the season and that it’s tournament time we know if we want to get anywhere we have to work together as a team.”
With a relatively new rotation to start the season, the Lady Vikings struggled to find any consistency in the beginning of the season, even if they were winning games. After a few minor adjustments in the rotation after their loss to Arlee, the Lady Vikings seemed to hit their stride and haven’t dropped a game since their match in Hot Springs Oct. 5.
“We definitely figured out each other. They learned to talk each other. They communicate with each other and they move together. It’s fun to watch,” said Charlo coach Sheryl Kain, who won her first district championship as the Lady Vikings’ head coach.
With their recent success, the Lady Vikings are having fun and playing loose and Kain said that makes all the difference.
“They’re more relaxed. When they have fun and play relaxed, things just seem to work out,” Kain said.
It was also Kinley Pope’s first district championship, the junior had watched the Savage Heat walk away with the title the past three years.
“It feels amazing . We worked hard and it paid off. It feels unbelievable,” said Pope, who led the team with eight kills in the championship match. “The loss to Arlee helped us realize what we wanted and what are goals are and we worked hard and it paid off.”
Since the five-set loss to Arlee Sept. 28, the Lady Vikings have swept the Scarlets three matches in a row.
The Lady Vikings were never tested in the tournament. In the opening victory seven of the Lady Vikings combined for 42 kills compared to the Savage Heat’s 10. Hoyt led the team, matching Hot Springs with 10. Pope, Brown and Jazmine Hernandez-Kelley each put down four. Royelle Esterby had three kills and led the team with four aces. Pope had a team-high 12 digs and Dawn Blevins set up her teammates with 21 assists.
Hoyt was on fire against the Scarlets in the undefeated match Saturday morning, putting down 15 kills. While Hoyt was crushing her kills, Brown was accurately placing hers, finishing with 10 kills. Ten Lady Vikings combined for 46 digs. Dawn Blevins led the way with nine to go along with her 24 assists. Kelsie Blevins added seven and Pope and Jessica Foust had six.
Pope found her offensive touch in the championship match, knocking down eight kills to match her team-high eight digs. Hoyt, Kelley-Hernandez and Esterby each pitched in with five. The Lady Vikings finished with 50 digs. Kelsie Blevins, Foust and Hernandez-Kelley each had with seven.
The Lady Vikings play Twin Bridges at 10 a.m. at the Maroon Activities Center in Butte.
Charlo def. Hot Springs, 25-15, 25-23, 25-10
Kills - Charlo 32 (Rachel Hoyt 10), Hot Springs 10 (Corle Morefield 4). Blocks - Charlo 5 (Hoyt 2, Dawn Blevins 2), Hot Springs 3 (three with one). Digs - Charlo 33 (Kinley Pope 12), Hot Springs 22 (Shanny King 9). Assists - Charlo 27 (Blevins 21), Hot Springs 9 (Lindsey Salmi 6). Aces - Charlo 12 (Royelle Esterby 4), Hot Springs 7 (King 2).
Charlo def. Arlee, 25-21, 25-8, 25-14.
Kills - Charlo 43 (Rachel Hoyt 15), Arlee 15 (Mahalia Hendren 7). Blocks - Charlo 4 (four with one), Arlee 8 (Hendren 3). Digs - Charlo 46 (Dawn Blevins 9), Arlee 86 (Becca Nelson 19). Assists - Charlo 30 (Blevins 24), Arlee 8 (Courtney Dix 8). Aces - Charlo 6 (Kelsie Blevins 2), Arlee 4 (Nelson 2
Charlo def. Arlee, 25-16, 25-21, 25-19
Kills - Charlo 30 (Kinley Pope 8), Arlee 18 (Mahalia Hendren 7). Blocks - Charlo 5 (Dawn Blevins 3), Arlee 16 (Becca Nelson 5, Cassandra Cline 5). Digs - Charlo 50 (Pope 8), Arlee 102 (Nelson 22). Assists - Charlo 23 (Blevins 21), Arlee 10 (Courtney Dix 8). Aces - Charlo 16 (Rachel Hoyt 6), Arlee 7 (Nelson 3).