Road trip tests Lady Bobcats volleyball
Superior senior Payton Milender goes high to spike a shot versus Seeley this past Saturday in Seeley. (Photo by Kami Milender)
Valley Press | September 21, 2022 12:00 AM
It seems early, like frost on a pumpkin in August, but the races are already heating up in Montana Western C volleyball.
Some kind of weird variation of “global,” or in this case “rubbery spherical” changes messing things up?
Or could it be the Western 14 and 13C conferences are thick with competitive players?
Take for example, the week Superior just had.
The Lady Bobcats played two road games against upper level C teams and came away with an 0-2 mark for the week. Something in the atmosphere no doubt. Superior came into the week with a 3-1 overall mark and ended up 3-3.
One of the main reasons for that is the way the week began with a road match against 2-2 Hot Springs, which is always in the thick of things in this neck of the woods. What was widely considered to be somewhat of a rebuilding year with the graduation of all-everything Katelyn Christensen has been anything but that. Coach Taylor Salmi and crew are as competitive as anyone in the league.
Which set up what was an epic, five-set battle between two very similar teams. Superior held off Hot Springs in the first set, 25-20, then watched as Hot Springs returned the favor 25-19 in set two to create a 1-1 match tie.
Superior bounced back behind the net play of junior Trinity Donaldson, who finished the match with five aces and 21 digs, and Payton Milender who recorded 11 kills to go with three blocks.
The Lady Bobcats rolled to the easiest set win of the match, a 25-15 win that put them ahead 2-1 in the match.
But with junior Lauryn Aldridge patrolling the net where she picked up nine kills and five blocks during the evening, Hot Springs fought back and took the fourth set 25-20. The deciding fifth set, which according to rules is awarded to the first team to get to 15 points and be ahead by two was waiting to decide the match.
As was the case with most of the match to that point, the two teams traded points as the score stayed tight until the end when Hot Springs pulled out a 15-11 fifth set win and secured a hard-fought 3-2 match win.
Freshman Kara Christensen, younger sister of Katelyn, also had a fantastic game, garnering 20 digs for Superior. That total was topped by Superior junior Lanie Crabb, who had 21 digs. Both stats were evidence of long volleys and a diving for wayward balls type of play.
So Saturday rolled in and the Lady Bobcats were probably hoping for an easier game, but they knew better when they looked at the schedule. Superior was slated to take on the Seeley High Lady Blackhawks in Seeley.
But if Superior was road weary it didn’t show as the Lady Bobcats fought hard throughout the match, which was swept by the 5-1 Lady Blackhawks. Seeley took the first set 25-21, won the second set 27-25 and wrapped up the sweep with a 28-26 match-clincher in game three.
And so it goes in the rough and tumble world of Western Montana high school volleyball.
Next up for Superior is a Homecoming match this Thursday versus St. Regis, followed by an appearance in the Mineral County Invitational set for Saturday in Superior.
The way things go in the Western C, any tournaments around here the rest of the season could reasonably be dubbed “playoff previews”.