Lady Pirates cruise in conference opener
WHITEFISH — The Lady Bulldogs picked the wrong girl to pick on Thursday in Whitefish.
After taking a 2-0 lead in the first game after Riley Kenney failed to return two serves, the Lady Bulldogs decided to keep serving it to her – that was a bad choice.
From that point on, Kenney’s nearly perfect passing fueled an accurate Polson attack in a 25-20, 25-21, 21-25, 25-14 conference victory.
“They tried to pick on her, but she passed the ball flawless. Riley played wonderful,” Polson coach Jan Toth said. “Their strategy didn’t quite work out the way they thought it would.”
Kenney finished with 18 digs to help the Lady Pirates get a conference road win in a very tough place to play, especially with four players making their Northwestern A debut.
The offense starts with passing, according to Toth, and once Kenney started passing, Kayla Duford was able to set up the Lady Pirates’ big hitters, who didn’t miss.
The first 10 balls Sallie Sams hit went for kills and Breanne Kelley started the match 9 for 9 on kill attempts, both finished over .500 on kill attempts. Kelley led the team with 22 kills. Sams followed right behind with 17. Duford set up 40 of Polson’s 54 kills in the match and also led the team with 19 digs.
Toth takes full responsibility for the Lady Pirates only hiccup in the four-set victory. Trying to ride the hot hand of Sams, Toth switched her rotation around in the third game. Her experiment didn’t work.
“I switched my rotation around and I don’t know why. I should know better than that. The girls don’t deal very well with change,” Toth said.
After falling behind by as many as 14 points, the Lady Pirates rallied and made a game of it (25-21), but couldn’t pull off the sweep.
In the fourth game, Toth went back to her “tried and true” rotation and easily handled the Lady Bulldogs 25-14. Kenney had all eight of her team leading aces in the match.
“She can place her serve anywhere. Short, long, hard she can find the holes,” Toth said.
The Lady Pirates will play in the Columbia Falls tip-off Friday and Saturday.
Polson def. Whitefish
25-20, 25-21, 21-25, 25-14
Kills - Polson 54 (Breanne Kelley 22), Whitefish 25, (Heather Bailey 8), Blocks - Polson 5 (Kenney 2), Whitefish 6 (Olivia Nagler 3). Digs - Polson 74 (Duford 17), Whitefish 42 (Bailey 13). Assists - Polson 45 (Kayla Duford 40), Whitefish 20 (Nagler 15). Aces - Polson 16 (Riley Kenney 8), Whitefish 2 (Madison Tveidt 2).