Lady Pirates finish starter on 6-game win streak
WHITEFISH — It took a little while for the Lady Pirates to find their groove at the Whitefish Starter Tournament, but once they did they were unstoppable.
After losing two games to Eureka to start the tournament Saturday, Polson swept through their final three opponents to finish the tournament with a 6-2 record.
“We hadn’t quite got off the bus,” Polson coach Jan Toth said, explaining their 17-25, 23-25 loss to start the tournament. “It was early. We were a little slow warming up. The gym was cold.”
Normally a very accurate serving team, the Lady Pirates had 14 missed serves in the two games.
“We scored for them,” Toth said. Polson finished the tournament with 20 missed serves, something Toth said, “Was unacceptable at their level.”
Not to take anything from the Lady Lions, Toth said they were very well-coached and like most teams the Lady Pirates will play this season were out to beat them.
The straight-set loss to the Lady Lions must have sent a message to the Lady Pirates.
“It was a wakeup call. We turned right around and handled Columbia Falls easily. The hitters started to find the holes and started pounding the ball,” Toth said.
In the 25-19, 25-16 win over the Wildkats, Polson setter Kayla Duford started feeding the ball to veteran hitters Breanne Kelley, Sallie Sams and Riley Kenney, and the three newcomers; Mackenzie Clay, Kendyall Rochin and Ashley Johnson started pitching in. Toth said the three were a little nervous in the first match, but once they got comfortable Duford wasn’t afraid to feed them the ball.
“In the first game they were a little tentative, but as soon as they relaxed they were a huge key to our success,” Toth said.
In the Lady Pirates’ 25-11, 25-17 victory over Corvallis, the Lady Blue Devils had a hard time returning their serves, especially Kelley’s jump serve. Kelley had five of their 10 aces in the two games. Toth said the Lady Pirates’ serving not only scored points for them, it also took Corvallis out of their offense because they couldn’t pass the ball.
Against Stillwater Christian, who Toth called their toughest competition at the tournament, the Lady Pirate hitters had to find a way to breakthrough Stillwater’s towering front row. They eventually did and downed Stillwater 25-20, 25-22.
“Their (Stillwater) front row were all 6-foot blockers. It was a great experience for the hitters,” Toth said. “They had to find a way to get around them. The hitters had to adjust and it took awhile.”
Sams not only came through for the Lady Pirates on the offense, but also had five solo blocks on defense, which Toth said was key in the match.
“Your defense is only as good as your blocking,” Toth said.
The Lady Pirates travel to Whitefish to take on the Lady Bulldogs in a conference matchup Thursday. Toth said that the Whitefish gym is always loud and the Lady Bulldogs always bring a lot of intensity to the court.
Eureka def. Polson; 17-25, 23-25
Polson def. Columbia Falls; 25-19, 25-16
Polson def. Corvallis 25-11, 25-17
Polson def. Stillwater Christian 25-20, 25-22