Hot Springs falls short of bracket at MC Shootout

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Brianna Gray of Hot Springs hammers the ball over an attempted block during the Mineral County Shootout. (Kathleen Woodford/Mineral Independent)

Continuing to battle adversity caused by injuries and illness, Hot Springs came up a bit short of qualifying for bracket play Saturday in the Mineral County Shootout in Superior and St. Regis.

Each team played a trio of three-game matches in pool play. The top two teams from each of two pools qualified for bracket play.

The Lady Savage Heat swept Victor in their first pool play match — 15-14, 15-7 and 15-8. In the second match, Hot Springs won two of three over the Clark Fork Mountain Cats — 15-5, 9-15 and 15-11. However, Hot Springs lost to eventual tournament champion Charlo 14-15, 9-15 and 14-15in their last pool play action.

With a 5-4 record, Hot Springs did not have quite enough wins to earn a bracket berth.

The Lady Savage Heat had Charlo on the ropes, reaching 14 points in two of their three games. In the final set, Hot Springs led 14-9, but the Lady Vikings rallied to win. (See below for tournament statistics.)

HOT SPRINGS had junior Brianna Gray available for her first action of the season at the Mineral County Shootout. She was cleared to play after recovering from an ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) tear previous to the volleyball season.

However, leading hitter and blocker Katelyn Christensen had to sit out the tournament due to concussion protocol. She suffered the concussion in Hot Springs’ Thursday win over Lincoln.

“We were kind of struggling with our rotation, but I’m proud of how we played,” Lady Savage Heat head coach Alisha Pablo said, with McKennzie Cannon hampered by a bout with bronchitis. “You can really tell how important middle hitters are when they’re not there.

“Brianna came out strong in that tournament. (Sophomore) Lizzy Fisher had some really good net play,” Pablo added, explaining that Fisher is the setter when Sydney Jackson is in serve receive mode. “It doesn’t seem like she missed a beat. She’s a very smart player.”

THE LADY SAVAGE Heat swept Lincoln last Thursday. Set scores were 25-10, 25-20 and 25-23.

With Gray available to play for the first time this season, Pablo went with Sage Jackson as the libero, or defensive specialist.

“I thought it would be a good game to see if it works,” the coach explained. Jackson had been the team’s libero for the previous three seasons. “We really need her back there (in the back row).”

But the strategy was short-lived when Christensen went out with the concussion late in the match. So Hot Springs did not use a libero in the Saturday tournament.

Christensen led Hot Springs with 11 kills and two blocks, and Sydney Jackson dished out 20 assists. Sage Jackson had five aces, and she and sister Sydney had 10 digs each.

Alexis Cannon paced Lincoln with 14 kills and 14 assists. Maggie Jorgenson had eight blocks and Sage Kemp 19 digs.

According to Pablo, Christensen had to sit out one week due to concussion protocol, and would be re-evaluated to determine is she can play in the home match this Thursday against St. Regis. Varsity match time is 7 p.m. Hot Springs plays Saturday at Seeley-Swan with the varsity action set for about 6 p.m.

HOT SPRINGS stats for the Mineral County Shootout:

vs. Victor

Aces – Sydney Jackson 4. Assists – Jackson 12. Blocks – Savannah Roosma 2. Kills – 2 with 4 each.

vs. Clark Fork

Aces – McKennzie Cannon 2. Assists – Jackson 13. Blocks – McKennzie Cannon 2. Kills – Cannon 6. Digs – Cannon 6.

vs. Charlo

Aces – Cannon 1. Assists – Jackson 8. Blocks – Cannon 3. Kills – Brianna Gray 5. Digs – Sage Jackson 8.

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