LIBBY — If the Polson volleyball team was Superman, than Libby might be its kryptonite.
After beating Libby twice in the regular season, the Pirates dropped two of three games to the Loggers at the Northwestern A divisional tournament. Overall, the Pirates are 3-2 against the Loggers.
Libby took first and Polson took second, earning berths to the Class A volleyball state tournament this weekend in Bozeman.
“We played an amazing tournament,” head coach Jan Toth said.
The Pirates opened the tournament with a three-set win against Columbia Falls, 25-15, 26-24, 25-15.
Senior outside hitter Nicole Davey had 15 kills and junior outside hitter Breanne Kelley had 11 kills.
The Pirates moved on to face Libby with the winner automatically earning a trip to state.
With four close sets, Polson took their first loss of the season, 25-21, 24-26, 24-26, 25-27.
Eleven missed serves contributed to the tough game for Polson. Davey came with 21 kills and junior setter Kayla Duford had 42 assists.
“It was the mental part of the game that got us,” Toth said.
The team entered the locker room after the game and the seniors reminded the team of it’s motto: Polson never does things the easy way.
“They had a job to do and took care of it,” Toth said.
The Pirates went on to the loser-takes-third place game against Columbia Falls.
There were two outcomes for this game: ending the season or a trip to the state tournament.
Polson rose to the occasion and won in three sets 25-20, 25-20, 25-11.
“We stuck to the basics,” Toth said. “They want a state title.”
Duford put out 29 assists and senior libero Staci Benson had 25 digs.
With the win, for the second year in a row, Polson earned a trip to the state tournament.
The only thing left to be determined is what seeds Polson and Libby would enter the tournament. In order to take the first seed, Polson would have had to beat Libby twice.
With no food in their stomachs and jello-like legs, Polson found the energy to take on Libby.
The first championship game showed Polson’s determination as the Pirates won in five, 18-25, 25-19, 16-25, 25-20, 16-14.
In the fifth set, Polson was down 8-13 and “gutted it out to win,” Toth said.
Twenty minutes later, the team had to face Libby again in the second championship. Polson lost in four 24-26, 25-10, 22-25, 24-26.
The Pirates felt the effects of the tough games on Monday, as many reported sore shoulders and lower backs.
Now, the focus is on the state tournament.
Polson is excited and ready for the challenge.
“They’re not satisfied by just going to state,” Toth said. “This year they have their minds on a title.”
Since the team has been to the big show before, nerves won’t run as wild as last year. The loud atmosphere and different flooring won’t be as scary. The Pirates aren’t doing anything different to prepare mentally for the tournament.
“It’s kind of like beating a dead horse,” Toth said. “We’ve talked about it and talked about it.”
With large upsets in other divisional tournaments, the field is wide open, Toth said. Polson’s strength will lie in its depth of talent.
Off the bench, sophomore Riley Kenney can play any position and freshman Mackenzie Banner is a talented back row player.
“My outsides can play inside and vice versa,” Toth said.
Polson will open the state tournament today at 10 a.m. against Anaconda, the first seed out of the southwest.
“They have a lot of talented athletes that can do different things with the ball,” Toth said. “But so do we.”
When Polson faced Anaconda earlier this year, the teams split games. The opening match won’t be a test of physical strength, Toth said, but a mental game.
“[Anaconda] doesn’t like to lose,” Toth said. “But neither do we.”
Polson def. Columbia Falls, 3-0
Polson ended the Wildkats’ season with a 25-20, 25-20, 25-11 sweep in the loser-takes-third match.
Nicole Davey had eight kills and five aces and the Pirates also received eight kills and three blocks from Sallie Sams. Loni Havlovick slammed eight kills, Kayla Duford set 29 assists and Staci Benson had 25 digs.
Brooke Cady paced Columbia Falls with eight kills and two aces.
Loser takes third
Polson def. Columbia Falls 25-20, 25-20, 25-11
Kills – Polson 35 (Nicole Davey 8, Loni Havlovivk 8, Sallie Sams 8), Columbia Falls 25 (Brooke Cady 8). Blocks – Polson 4 (Sams 3), Columbia Falls 6 (Kayla DeWit 2). Digs – Polson 62 (Staci Benson 25), Columbia Falls 43 (Casidee Skiles 17). Assists – Polson 31 (Kayla Duford 29), Columbia Falls 22 (Shay Grilley 19). Aces – Polson 10 (Davey 5), Columbia Falls 6 (DeWit 2, Cady 2).
Libby outlasts Polson for crown
LIBBY – Just like last season it came down to Libby and Polson in the Northwestern A Divisional volleyball tournament on Saturday.
And once again it was the Loggers that prevailed. They bounced back from a heart-stopping 3-2 loss in the first championship match to win the second, 3-1.
Both teams will play in the state tournament starting Thursday in Bozeman. Libby secured its state bid on Friday and Polson, the regular-season league champ, made it official on Saturday with its 3-0 win over Columbia Falls in the loser-takes-third match.
Polson def. Libby, 3-2
The Pirates forced a second championship match in thrilling fashion, outlasting the Loggers by the narrowest of margins, 18-25, 25-19, 16-25, 25-20, 16-14.
Davey posted 15 kills and four blocks for Polson. Duford had 42 assists and three aces.
Jackie Mee had 28 kills and three blocks for Libby. Teammate Alysha Martin tallied 24 digs.
Polson def. Libby, 18-25, 25-19, 16-25, 25-20, 16-14.
Kills – Polson 53 (Nicole Davey 15), Libby 56 (Jackie Mee 28). Blocks – Polson 7 (Nicole Davey 4), Libby 5 (Jackie Mee 3). Digs – Polson 108 (Staci Benson 32), Libby 74 (Alysha Martin 24). Assists – Polson 43 (Kayla Duford 42), Libby 48 (Evi Cernick 46). Aces – Polson 7 (Duford 3), Libby 8 (Katie Emery 3).
Libby def. Polson, 3-1
The Loggers avenged a loss in the first championship match, coming up big when it mattered most, 26-24, 10-25, 25-22, 26-24.
Mee racked up 27 kills and three blocks for Libby. Teammate Evi Cernick had 40 assists and two aces.
Breanne Kelley totaled 16 kills and four aces for Polson. Davey tallied 15 kills and 18 digs.
Libby def. Polson, 26-24, 10-25, 25-22, 26-24.
Kills – Polson 55 (Breanne Kelley 16), Libby 55 (Jackie Mee 27). Blocks – Polson 7 (Sallie Sams 3), Libby 6 (Mee 3, Alex Kulbeck 3). Digs – Polson 90 (Nicole Davey 18), Libby 77 (Alysha Martin 21). Assists – Polson 51 (Kayla Duford 51), Libby 46 (Evi Cernick 40). Aces – Polson 10 (Breanne Kelley 4), Libby 8 (Cernick 2).
Polson def. Columbia Falls, 3-0
The Pirates advanced to the undefeated match with a 25-15, 26-24, 25-16 victory.
Kyla Duford set 37 assists and had a block for Polson and Nicole Davey slammed 15 kills and stuffed a block. The Pirates also received five aces from Breanne Kelley and 20 digs from Staci Benson.
Kayla DeWit led the Wildkats with four kills and two aces.
Polson def. Columbia Falls 25-15, 26-24, 25-16
Kills – Polson 45 (Nicole Davey 15), Columbia Falls 17 (Danielle Grilley 4, Kayla DeWit 4). Blocks – Polson 3 (Davey, Sallie Dams, Kayla Duford), Columbia Falls 3 (Jessi Gist 2). Digs – Polson 66 (Staci Benson 20), Columbia Falls 31 (Brooke Cady 8, Casidee Skilles 8). Assists – Polson 39 (Duford 37), Columbia Falls 13 (Shay Grilley 13). Aces – Polson 6 (Breanne Kelley 5), Columbia Falls 4 (DeWit 2).
NORTHWESTERN A VOLLEYBALL:
Libby hands Polson first loss of season
LIBBY – Call it home-court advantage.
The Libby volleyball team moved into the championship round of the Northwestern A divisional volleyball tournament Friday night by beating regular-season league champion Polson in four games to deal the Pirates their first loss of the season.
Polson awaits the winner of Saturday’s loser-takes fourth match between Columbia Falls and Whitefish for the right to meet Libby in the title round, beginning at 5 p.m.
Libby def. Polson, 3-1
Mee’s 23 kills and four blocks propelled the Loggers to the 21-25, 26-24, 26-24, 27-25 win in the undefeated match.
Cernick passed out 40 assists and Kulbeck registered four aces for Libby. Alysha Martin gave the Loggers 23 digs.
Davey paced the Pirates with 21 kills, while Duford added 42 assists and five aces.
Libby def. Polson 21-25, 26-24, 26-24, 27-25
Kills – Libby 51 (Jackie Mee 23), Polson 51 (Nicole Davey 21). Blocks – Libby 7 (Mee 4), Polson 6 (Loni Havlovick 2, sallie Sams 2). Digs – Libby 71 (Alysha Martin 23), Polson 91 (Staci Benson 29). Assists – Libby 45 (Evi Cernick 40), Polson 48 (Kyla Duford 42). Aces – Libby 11 (Alex Kulbeck 4), Polson 9 (Duford 5).