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Florence takes control

Florence’s Megan Kowalski battles a Deer Lodge player for the block on Thursday. Florence handed Deer Lodge their first loss of the season. Jean Schurman photo

Florence’s Megan Kowalski battles a Deer Lodge player for the block on Thursday. Florence handed Deer Lodge their first loss of the season. Jean Schurman photo

It was a classic match, the seasoned veterans and the young up and comers. But somewhere around the middle of the second game of the volleyball match between Florence and Deer Lodge, the youngsters from Florence took control. Florence only has one senior on the varsity team while Deer Lodge boasts eight. Both teams entered the fray without a loss. But it took Florence only three games to win the match and take control of the 6B conference.

“I expected this was going to be a battle,” said Florence coach Jeff Mahler. “I knew that they had a team full of veterans and with our young team, I wasn’t sure how it was going to go.”

With junior Megan Byrne making the outside kills and freshman Megan Kowalski putting up the blocks, the Lady Falcons controlled the net and kept the momentum on their side. Byrne had 15 kills and Kowalski had four blocks. In the back row, the lone senior, Hannah Sax, and Kristyne Drozdz, a junior, kept digging the serves up and keeping them in play. Drozdz finished with 30 of the 80 digs by the Lady Falcons.

Mahler said the team was working on gaining confidence and keeping their emotions under check. “I have to remind them, it’s a game, don’t make it emotional.”

He went on to say that he was encouraged that Deer Lodge is playing so well and hopes they will continue to be tough. He said that anytime they can play at this level, it helps the team in the long run.

“I want tough matches so we can get better,” he concluded.

Florence def. Deer Lodge, 25-20, 26-24, 25-21.

Kills – Deer Lodge 28 (Dani Walker 8, Lacie Thomas 8), Florence 37 (Megan Byrne 15). Blocks – Deer Lodge 6 (Michele Christnacht 3), Florence 6 (Megan Kowalski 4). Digs – Deer Lodge 49 (Walker 18), Florence 80 (Kristyne Drozdz 30). Assists – Deer Lodge 25 (Bailee Senecal 25), Florence 35 (Rylie Hawkins 29). Aces – Deer Lodge 3 (Christnacht, Walker, Thomas), Florence 5 (Drozdz 2).

Florence topped Ronan in three games on Thursday. It was the two Megans, Byrne and Kowalski, who controlled the net with Byrne knocking down 14 kills and Kowalski making a block. Sax served up seven aces in the match

Florence def. Ronan, 25-18, 25-19, 25-8.

Kills – Florence 33 (Megan Byrne 14), Ronan 12 (Alaina Madsen 5). Blocks – Florence 1 (Megan Kowalski), Ronan 3 (Madsen 2). Digs – Florence 73 (Kristyne Drozdz 28), Ronan 57 (Danielle Richwine 22). Assists – Florence 31 (Rylie Hawkins 22), Ronan 8 (Christine Robinson 8). Aces – Florence 13 (Hannah Sax 7), Ronan 6 (Richwine 3).

Corvallis fields a team of seasoned players, including Laura Berner, Joanna Avery and Chantel Jessop.  Jean Schurman photo

Corvallis fields a team of seasoned players, including Laura Berner, Joanna Avery and Chantel Jessop. Jean Schurman photo

Corvallis is another valley team that is playing exceptional ball right now. In this case, the Blue Devils are the experienced team who have made an appearance at the state tournament the past two years. Now, with a majority of seniors leading the way, coach Kasey Arceniega is working with her team to keep playing their style of volleyball and keep the momentum working for them.

“We have to keep our focus,” she said and went on to say how well her team was playing together and working with each other.

Joanna Avery, who stands six feet tall, fills up the middle and changes the other team’s play. Kelsey Irwin, a junior, is 5’11” and an outside hitter who knows how to make the kill. Chantel Jessop is 5’9” and is another outside hitter. Jessica Lewis, at 5’7”, is the smallest on the front line but she is also the state high jump champion and can get up in the air to make the blocks. Katie Patterson is the Libero and keeps the serves in play while Alex Price and Laura Berner do the setting. Berner, a starter since she was a freshman, can be found all over the court and has a very good sense of how the play is going to unfold.

With this experienced team, the Blue Devils are marching through the ranks of the Southwest A. While Arceniega is working to keep her team focused and playing tough for each game, she said she is pleased with how well they are working and helping each other out.

Corvallis defeated Butte Central on Saturday in three games, 25-14, 25-7, 25-9. Irwin had 13 kills, Avery had two blocks, Berner dug up 16 serves and had three aces, Price finished with 31 assists and Patterson had four aces.

Stevensville def. Butte Central, 25-21, 25-20, 19-25, 25-18.

Kills – Stevensville 58 (Kyla Paulsen 19), Butte Central 24 (Teresa Piazzola 11). Blocks – Stevensville (Katie Malachinski 8, Mackenzie Zimmerman 8), Butte Central 13 (Lacie McGree 5, Sadie Harrington 5). Digs – Stevensville 49 (Carli Vercruyssen 13), Butte Central 54 (Cassidy McGree 17). Assists – Stevensville 33 (Megan Elam 18), Butte Central 24 (Emily St. John 24). Aces – Stevensville 7 (Lizzy Whitesell 3, Megan Finley 3), Butte Central 8 (Erin Antonili 4).

Anaconda def. Hamilton 25-16, 25-21, 25-18.

Kills – Hamilton 18 (Jaylee Albert 11), Anaconda N/A (Tasha Strommen 9). Blocks – Hamilton 1 (Shannon Casale), Anaconda 0. Digs – Hamilton 32 (Kelsey Pitzinger 7, Albert 7), Anaconda N/A (Courtney Moodry 8). Assists – Hamilton 17 (Makayla Horvath 15), Anaconda N/A (Racee Moodry 15). Aces – Hamilton 3 (Albert 3), Anaconda N/A (C. Moodry 2, Strommen 2).

Darby def. Lincoln, 25-12, 25-7, 23-25, 25-14.

Kills – Lincoln 4 (Annie Sehrs), Darby 30 (Jessica Campbell 9). Blocks – Lincoln 0, Darby 4 (Campbell 2). Digs – Lincoln 2 (Katie Deluca), Darby 1 (Keely Ehmann). Assists – Lincoln 4 (Dani Cyr 2), Darby 25 (Lacey Dolcater 13). Aces – Lincoln 0, Darby 18 (Sydney Bergren 10).

Valley Christian def. Victor, 25-16, 25-6, 25-13.

Kills – Victor 4 (Carly Jean Conley 2), Valley Christian 18 (McKenna Sweet 6). Blocks – Victor 2 (Payton Tillolson 2), Valley Christian 3 (Cheyenne Jones 3). Digs – Victor 6 (Conley 6), Valley Christian 50 (Kaileigh Moser 12). Assists – Victor 4 (Tillolson 4), Valley Christian 15 (Taylor Kelly 14). Aces – Victor 5 (Tillolson 3), Valley Christian 16 (Abbie Richards 3, Sweet 3, Kelly 3).

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