All a high school volleyball coach can realistically ask from his or her players is to be playing your best when tournament time rolls around, and to “leave it on the floor” each time you go out to compete.
Thompson Falls may not have qualified for this week’s Class B State Volleyball Tournament in Bozeman, but the Lady Hawks did finish the season with a flourish.
The Lady Hawks closed out the regular season with a five-set win over a strong Bigfork team before sweeping Troy on Senior Night. That set the stage for more good things to come at the Western B Divisional Tournament last Thursday through Saturday in Florence.
T-Falls had a great day Thursday, opening with a four-set victory over Deer Lodge (Powell County) before sweeping Anaconda in three close sets in the quarterfinals.
Rested and ready, the Lady Hawks went up against a homestanding Florence team that had not lost a dual match all season, finishing fifth in the AA-dominated Missoula tournament.
T-Falls started strong, with the first set tied 3-3, but the Lady Falcons reeled off 10 unanswered points to take control, winning 25-10.
The Lady Hawks battled back from a 9-4 deficit to tie in the second set, but Florence pulled out to a 20-14 lead — largely due to strong net play from a bevy of Lady Falcons. Florence took a 2-0 lead with a 25-17 win.
T-Falls led 12-9 in the third set, playing ever-so-scrappy defense for a solid transition to offense. But Florence got its mojo going and advanced to the title match with a hard-earned 25-19 victory.
THE LADY Hawks were still “a win away” from a state tourney berth, needing another victory over Deer Lodge on Saturday morning. T-Falls stormed to a 25-5 win in set one. After a Wardens win, T-Falls went up 2-1. But Deer Lodge — a team with seven seniors — took the next two games, 25-23 and 15-11 to advance to face Florence in the championship match.
Florence won the divisional title in a sweep — 25-11, 25-16, 25-10.
“They gave it their all,” T-Falls head coach Sandra Kazmierczak said. “They had a great season. The girls were very happy (with their play) and I’m very proud of them.
“We started the season with a younger group of kids. They had a lot of potential. They reached their peak at the right time,” she said. “They’re such a good group of kids who played well together.”
T-Falls has just two seniors — libero Maya Stiles and Sarah Detlaff.
“Our leadership from the two seniors was great … their work ethic and encouraging the kids to step up,” Kazmierczak said. “They will be missed. They’re always very positive kids.”
SCARLETTE SCHWINDT, just a freshman, was most often the leading hitter for T-Falls. “She had a great season with her hitting. She’s a great all-around player.”
The coach also had praise for sophomore Riley Wilson, the team’s primary setter, and she lauded Stiles for her back-row play and sophomore Jody Detlaff as middle blocker.
Getting wins over both Bigfork and Troy just before the Western Divisional Tournament was a huge stepping stone to success.
“From that point the players started thinking, ‘we can do this together.’ They had their goals set … Coming in third (place) is an accomplishment. They had a fantastic season.”
THOMPSON FALLS MATCH SCORES & STATISTICS
T-Falls def. Deer Lodge 25-16, 25-12, 20-25, 25-21
T-Falls stats — Kills: 42 (Scarlette Schwindt 14). Assists: 29 (Schwindt 7). Digs: 109 (Maya Stiles 28). Blocks: 14 (Belle Cooper 5). Aces: 5 (Schwindt 2, Stiles 2).
T-Falls def. Anaconda 25-18, 25-22, 27-25
T-Falls stats — Kills: 23 (Schwindt 10). Assists: 8 (Schwindt 4). Digs: 53 (Stiles 20). Blocks: 8 (Jody Detlaff 5). Aces: 8 (3 tied with 2).
Florence def. T-Falls 25-10, 25-17, 25-19
T-Falls stats — Kills: 10 (Schwindt 4). Assists: 9 (Riley Wilson 8). Digs 38 (Stiles 13). Blocks: 2 (Schwindt, Cooper). Aces: 2 (Stiles, Bowlin).
Deer Lodge def. T-Falls 5-25, 25-19, 21-25, 25-23, 15-11
T-Falls stats — Kills: 52 (Brooke Bowlin 18). Assists: 50 (Wilson 47). Digs: 58 (Stiles 18). Blocks: 7 (Detlaff 3). Aces: 17 (Schwindt 9).
Western B Divisional
Nov. 1-Nov. 3 at Florence
(Two teams advance)
Match 1: Florence def. St. Ignatius 25-10, 25-14, 25-16, first round
Match 2: Bigfork def. Missoula Loyola 23-25, 25-16, 25-22, 18-25, 15-8, first round
Match 3: Anaconda def. Eureka 25-22, 16-25, 25-20, 19-25, 15-10, first round
Match 4: Thompson Falls def. Deer Lodge 25-16, 25-12, 20-25, 25-21, first round
Match 5: Florence def. Bigfork 25-6, 25-13, 25-15, second round
Match 6: Thompson Falls def. Anaconda 25-18, 25-22, 27-25, second round
Match 7: Missoula Loyola def. St. Ignatius 25-22, 25-18, 18-25, 23-25, 15-12, loser-out
Match 8: Deer Lodge def. Eureka 25-19, 25-11, 25-20, loser-out
Match 9: Missoula Loyola def. Anaconda 25-23, 25-17, 25-22, loser-out
Match 10: Deer Lodge def. Bigfork 19-25, 25-16, 24-26, 25-16, 15-13, loser-out
Match 11: Florence def. Thompson Falls 25-10, 25-17, 25-19, undefeated semifinal
Match 12: Deer Lodge def. Missoula Loyola 28-26, 25-23, 25-17, loser-out (Missoula Loyola gets fourth place)
Match 13: Deer Lodge def. Thompson Falls 5-25, 25-19, 21-25, 25-23, 15-11, loser-out (Thompson Falls gets third place)
Match 14: Florence def. Deer Lodge 25-11, 25-16, 25-10, championship