Lady Pirates battle in Missoula
MISSOULA — According to head coach Jan Toth, Polson volleyball fared well at the Missoula Invitational Tournament.
“We were the only Class A team to make the championship bracket by placing fourth in the Hellgate Pool,” Toth said. “My girls put up a great fight throughout the whole weekend, playing AA schools that not only have us outnumbered, but their height differential was huge. We played teams with most of their girls over 6 feet, and my tallest is 5-foot-9 at her best.”
Heidi Rausch wasn’t intimidated by the opponents’ height; she played “like she was over 6 feet.”
“She was tough to stop; she was relentless with her swing as well as her powerful serve,” Toth said.
Shay Duford was another big contributor to the Polson offense. Toth said she was also impressed with Jessica Bagnell’s arm swing on the outside in her first varsity debut. Sophomore Kaelen Wall had to fill big shoes, starting for senior Tanisha Matt, who is out with an ankle injury.
“Kaelen did everything and more that I had asked of her,” Toth said. “She was able to get blocks and kills when she was called upon. My defense all the way around was outstanding; this is what won many games for us. We are quick and scrappy, and our girls can read the hitters very well, making it difficult for any hitter to pound a ball at us.”
The Lady Pirate defense was led by Mackenzie Banner, Jaiden Toth, Katie Sprague, Chelsea Chowning, Shay Duford and Heidi Rausch. “They all combined for an amazing defensive show,” Toth said. “Also, outside hitters and cousins Tina Marquardt and Chloie Huerta made a lot of noise offensively. When they hit the ball it was put away. You cannot ask for anymore from this team. We are gelling right at the key time, the end of season.”
Toth hopes to have a full team back this week; Jessica Hoel is nursing a elbow injury and Matt an ankle injury.