Lady Pirates volleyball hopes to build on recent success

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POLSON HIGH School volleyball player goes for a kill in a regular-season match against Columbia Falls. The Lady Pirates ended up finishing at divisionals and hope to build on their 2017 success as they prepare for the 2018 campaign. (Jason Blasco/Lake County Leader)

Polson High School Lady Pirates volleyball coach Patricia Luetzen challenged her team to exceed the statistical categories they accumulated during Districts and in the regular season as they went into the Western A Divisionals Friday at Butte Central as one of the lowest-seeded teams in the bracket.

The Lady Pirates responded to Luetzen’s challenge and the result was some of the team’s highest serving percentages of the season. The nearly flawless serve percentage wasn’t enough to upend the No. 1 seeded Corvallis team or Hamilton team. The Lady Pirates lost both of their games in a double-elimination format that ended their team’s quest for a Class A state title bid.

“We played a lot better even though we weren’t able to pull out a win against Corvallis,” Luetzen said. “We played a better match up at the net against Hamilton. They just made less mistakes than we did. We took one game but unfortunately we had to play from behind the majority of the match.”

Luetzen said she was impressed that her team flawlessly executed their serving in both matches against Hamilton and Corvallis.

“We had four aces and one error out of 58 attempts and though we only held a serve 26 times, we committed zero errors,” Luetzen said. “Our team played better together in Divisionals than we did in Districts and honestly, (as a team), we showcased a lot of respect for each other.”

Luetzen said she was “pleased” with how the 2017 campaign went and the level of commitment her team showcased throughout the course of the season.

“When you have adversity, you learn about yourselves and that is the whole reason schools put athletic events together for kids so that they can learn about themselves and how to cooperate with others,” Luetzen said. “This team learned how to cooperate with each other and learned how to play together in a healthy way to overcome some adversity we had together during the season.”

During the summer months, Luetzen said she felt her team invested a lot of time in a summer conditioning program to get ready for the rigors of the volleyball season.

And according to Luezen, the camp paid dividends.

“My seniors invested time in the sports medicine program and honestly, that helped in the participation of our practices this year,” Luetzen said. “We had a lot of people practicing every day and that really changed the culture of our practice that we will build on for next year.”

The team chemistry helped the Lady Pirates develop stronger hitter, setter, libero triangles this year between Kealyn Smith, Kyler Lundeen and Laurel Bitterman.

During Divisionals, Luetzen also built for the future of the team calling up Berkley Ellis, Kobbey Smith, Maggie Todd and Misty Tenas up from the JV team.

Next season, the Lady Pirates will have a younger team but will continue to build on this season’s success as they begin preparation for the 2018 campaign.

Western A Divisional

Maroon Activities Center, Butte, MT

Thurs-Sat, Nov. 2-4, 2017

Second championship

Corvallis (19-2) def. LiThebby (19-2) 25-21, 25-16, 22-25, 25-13

First Championship

Corvallis (18-2) def. Libby (19-1) 25-19, 25-20, 12-25, 12-25, 15-13

Third place

Corvallis (17-2) def. Whitefish 25-22, 25-17, 25-18

Undefeated semi

Libby (19-0) def. Corvallis (16-2) 25-12, 25-20, 20-25, 27-29, 15-10

Stevensville def. C.Falls 27-25, 25-16, 25-23

Whitefish def. Hamilton 21-25, 25-20, 25-22, 25-17

Stevensville def. Frenchtown 25-17, 25-17, 25-18

Hamilton def. Polson 25-18, 25-15, 20-25, 25-17

Libby def. Whitefish 25-21, 25-14, 14-25, 25-18

Corvallis def. C.Falls 25-6, 25-15, 25-23

Libby def. Frenchtown 25-20, 25-21, 25-13

Whitefish def. Stevensville 25-19, 24-26, 21-25, 25-16, 16-14

Columbia Falls def. Hamilton 25-19, 25-23, 18-25, 25-22

Corvallis def. Polson 25-13, 25-9, 25-14

Hamilton def. Polson 3-1

Polson (6-14), Hamilton (14-6)

Hamilton def. Polson 25-18, 25-15, 20-25, 25-17

KILLS – P30 (Kaelyn Smith 14, Mikaela Ducharme 7), H41 (Tristy Searle 12, Royal Beyer 9). ACES – P4 (), H10 (Caitlyn Dillon 3). ASSISTS – P29 (Laurel Bitterman 26), H27 (Dillon 22). BLOCKS – P2 (), H5 (Hayley Hudgins 2, Beyer 2). DIGS – P55 (Kyler Lundeen 29, Bitterman 9), H70 (Dillon 18, Sophia Doyle 12). (Fr03Nov17gm7div)

Corvallis def. Polson 3-0

Polson (6-13), Corvallis (15-1)

KILLS – C39 (Hannah Hutchison 13), P11 (Kaelyn Smith 4, Olivia Perez 3). ACES – C12 (Ashley Hornaday 6), P2 (Laurel Bitterman 2). ASSISTS – C38 (Kate Hurlburt 34), P11 (Bitterman 11). BLOCKS –C2, P4 (Mikaela Ducharme, Paige Noyes, Perez). DIGS – C42 (Maureen Jessop 8, Casey Fison 8), P30 (Kyler Lundeen 15, Smith 5). (Th02Nov17gm1div)

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