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Lady Pirates pump it up against Libby

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The Polson volleyball team came up short against the Thompson Falls Blue Hawks in a non-conference match on the road last Thursday, losing three straight. 

“(Thompson Falls) is a great program with huge hitters,” head coach Jan Toth said. “We struggled from the first game, unable to serve consistently and unable to put up any kind of block. Without a block, our defense struggled to get the balls into the hands of stellar senior setter Shay Duford.” 

The Lady Pirate defense was led by Mackenzie Banner, Duford and Jaiden Toth. Banner dug in and put up 20 huge digs; Duford 13, and Jaiden 11.  

Without the leadership of senior Heidi Rausch, who was out with a severe ankle sprain, the team struggled to stop the Blue Hawks’ three main hitters. Learning to make key adjustments in the lineup when players are injured is important for her team, Toth noted. 

“There are going to be times we will need to change up a lineup, so we need to work on the mental aspect of that part of the game,” she said. “After the loss, I told the girls that we can learn a lot more from a loss than a win.”

The Lady Pirates got a chance to test that theory on Saturday, when they scored a conference win over the Libby Loggers, 25-17, 26-24, 25-22. While Polson came out slow, letting Libby get up by eight points, Toth said she never doubted her team’s ability to get momentum back for the win.

Rausch was back on the court despite her sore ankle, and “that only shows her raw mental strength and her dedication to her team,” Toth noted.

“(Rausch’s) serves were so powerful, each time she was at the line the coach would call time out. But that did not stop her; she finished the night with four aces along with Mackenzie Banner,” Toth said.

In fact, the Lady Pirates had their best night of serving yet, totaling 15 aces.

Leading the team with seven hits apiece were cousins Chloie Huerta and Martina Marquardt.  

“They have power that lights up a gym,” Toth said. “When they hit, everyone can hear it.”

Middle hitter senior Tanisha Matt also had a big night with five kills and two blocks. 

“(Matt) is finally settling into her role, realizing she is a great player with a ton of potential,” Toth said. 

Duford came away with four kills, 23 assists, three aces and 10 digs. “Her leadership and ability to get her team going is incredible,” Toth noted.

Toth said she’s proud of her players’ abilities to jump in the game at any moment.

“The team could never win without our solid role players that come from the bench when called upon. At any given time I can put a player on the court that has been sitting, and they will go in there and make plays happen,” she said. “You cannot ask for much more out of a team.”


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