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Wednesday November 3, 2010


Sports at a Glance

All stories by Jean Schurman


Florence topples Loyola for championship

Yellowjackets play on

Volleyballers head to divisionals

Sports Talk




Florence topples Loyola for championship

There isn’t a senior on the Florence volleyball team. In fact, there are only two juniors on this young, young team. But sometimes the innocence of youth can be played into a winning hand. Although young, the Lady Falcons played with poise and skill and defeated the Loyola Breakers in three games in the championship match on Saturday and claimed the district championship.

Florence came out and quickly established their game plan of blocking strongly at the net and digging every ball in the championship game. Coach Jeff Mahler said he and his staff have been working on blocking. “Blocking sets up our defense. Our defense can’t do anything unless they have something to read.”

The strategy worked. With Melody Maki and Makenzie Bauck leading the way, the Lady Falcons blocked point after point and Florence quickly gained control of the first game in the championship match. They went on to win that game, 25-13.

Although Loyola stayed with Florence in the second game for the first eight points, the young upstarts again began to pull away. Florence won that game, 25-20.

“They (Loyola) are in a tough boat,” said Mahler. “There’s no one to challenge them in our conference. It’s hard with a target on your back. Everybody’s gunning for you.”

Game 3 was as exciting a game as a fan will get to see with every point being contested. The widest point spread in the game was only four points. Loyola, facing the unfamiliar task of rallying back, played strongly in the back row but didn’t have an answer to the blocking by the Lady Falcons. The final point of the game had everyone on their feet as the volley went on and on. But Florence prevailed and won the game, 25-22, and the championship.

Championship Match

Florence def. Loyola, 25-13, 25-20, 25-22.

Kills - Loyola 29 (Alex Anderson 10), Florence (Melody Maki 7, Courtney Byrne 7). Blocks - Loyola 3, Florence n/a (Mackenzie Bauck 6). Digs - Loyola 50 (Katy Ermatinger 12), Florence (Taylor Maricelli 7). Assists - Loyola 29 (Alliy Sellman 16), Florence n/a (Bauck 21). Aces - Loyola 6 (Madison Mansch 3), Florence (Maricelli 3, Lindsay Wetch 3).

Melody Maki and Kaleigh Charles provided Florence with strong blocking at the net during the championship match against Loyola at the District 6B tournament. Florence won the championship in three games. Jean Schurman photo.

Cassie McCann of Florence makes a hit as Lindsay Wetch moves in for backup. Jean Schurman photo.

Florence advanced to the championship after beating Loyola in the undefeated game on Friday night. After losing the first game, 22-25, the young Florence team shrugged the loss off and went on to win the next three games and the match.

“I was so excited,” said Mahler. “When we faced these guys before, we didn’t have our starting rotation because of injuries. This time everybody was healthy and everybody could face the best and see what happened. It was awesome because I saw a team that was coming together and starting to believe.”

Karli Cotton served up four aces in the match. Melody Maki was strong at the net with 10 kills and seven blocks. Bauck ran the offense with clean sets and kept the team focused. The second and third games of the match were close but the Lady Falcons held on to win. Game 4 was another story. Playing with poise beyond their years, the Lady Falcons crushed Loyola, 25-10. It was Loyola’s first defeat of the season.

“I saw a team that was coming together and starting to believe,” said Mahler of his team’s victory.

Florence def. Loyola Sacred Heart, 22-25, 25-21, 25-22, 25-10.

Kills - Loyola 39 (Katy Ermatinger 11), Florence 32 (Melody Maki 10). Blocks - Loyola 12 (Alliy Sellman 4), Florence 10 (Maki 7). Digs - Loyola 60 (Ermatinger 16), Florence 24 (Karli Cotton 7, Taylor Maricelli 7). Assists - Loyola 38 (Madison Mansch 21), Florence 28 (Makenzie Bauck 25). Aces - Loyola 13 (Mansch 7), Florence 12 (Cotton 4).

Florence defeated Deer Lodge, 25-20, 25-20, 25-18, in their first match of the tournament. Courtney Byrnes had 10 kills, Taylor Maricelli had seven of Florence’s 19 digs and Cotton had four aces.

Darby lost to Deer Lodge in their opening match of the tournament – 25-23, 25-13, 25-10. Heidi Heiland and Sarah Jakober each had four kills for the Tigers. Brianna Massey had a block and Bre Orr had seven digs. Hailie Rennaker had eight assists and Julie Abrahamsen had four aces.

Darby finished their season with a loss to Superior – 25-19, 25-23, 20-25, 25-22. Heiland had eight kills. Massey had three blocks. Jakober finished with 10 digs. Rennaker had 22 assists and Abrahamsen had six aces.

Florence, Loyola, Superior and Valley Christian will advance to the Western B Divisional tournament in Superior this weekend.

Victor bowed out at the District 9-C tournament in Seeley. It took Lincoln five games to top Victor – 25-21, 23-25, 25-17, 26-28, 15-5. Kaylene Munson had nine kills and three blocks. Mariah Caniglia had 31 digs for the Lady Pirates. Kristyne Corkern had 10 assists and Shai Scheffer had five aces.

Philipsburg defeated Victor, 25-16, 25-15, 25-10, in their final match. Munson finished with two kills. Caniglia had 11 digs, Scheffer had six assists and Liz Taylor had three aces.



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Yellowjackets play on

Despite less than ideal footing, the upstart Stevensville Yellowjackets continued their journey into uncharted territory Friday night in Libby in first round playoff action. The field was muddy and made running the ball difficult but that didn’t stop Caleb Vance and company; they went to the passing game instead. And they stepped up their defense. The result was a 19-14 win over the Loggers and a chance to play in the quarterfinals.

“Only two kids have ever played in a playoff game,” said first-year coach Hank Praast. “And that was in Florence.”

Libby opened the game with a 69-yard return on the kickoff by Kody Berget. Stevensville came back and scored twice in the first quarter and took the lead. The first touchdown was a 30-yard pass from Vance to Josh Haynes. Mitch Blakey kicked the PAT and the game was tied. They went to the air again in the first period. This time, it was Josh Lords who caught a 12-yard pass and the boys in black and gold had the lead.

“We weren’t sure what we could do,” said Praast.

While the offense was trying to figure out their plan of action, the defense knew exactly what they had to do – stop the Loggers – and they did. Every time Libby made a move towards the end zone, there was a ‘Jacket there to stop them. Tyler Murray batted down three passes and then picked the last pass off and raced back 54 yards for a touchdown. Libby came back and scored when Berget made a two-yard run but couldn’t make up the difference.

Vance threw for 244 yards. He completed 16 of 28 passes. Haynes had 89 yards on four catches. Lords racked up 75 yards on three receptions.

With the win, Stevensville will now make the trip to Billings where they will take on Billings Central at 1 p.m. on Saturday. Praast said since they have already played the Rams once this year, the team knows what to expect.

“Their quarterback is a three-year starter and is very good,” said Praast. “But we feel like we were still trying to figure out who we were at the first game.” Stevensville lost that game, 34-13.

Stevensville has not been in a playoff game since 2004. Praast said his team is focusing on the game and will work hard this week. “They are really excited to play. It’s a new era.”



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Volleyballers head to divisionals

Stevensville topped Frenchtown in three games to win their final match of the regular season on Friday. Britney Chilcott played hard at the net, knocking down 11 kills and making four blocks. Maddie Jones added nine kills, four digs and three aces. Molly Brewer led the ‘Jackets with eight of the team’s 23 digs. Alexa Omlid had 20 of the team’s 31 assists.

Stevensville will go into the Southwest A Divisional tournament this weekend with a record of 6-4 in conference play and 10-6 overall. Corvallis and Hamilton will meet up again Thursday at 8 p.m. in the second game of the Southwest A tournament. Stevensville has a first-round bye and will meet the winner of that game at 1 p.m. on Friday.

Hamilton defeated Corvallis on Thursday, 3-1. They topped Anaconda in five games on Friday. Rebecka Hood had 14 kills and Mary Conwell had 31 assists and three aces.

Hamilton def. Corvallis, 25-19, 15-25, 25-22, 25-21.

Kills - Corvallis 39 (Whitney Jessop 12, Alex Ewing 10), Hamilton 36 (Mary Conwell 11, Rebecka Hood 9). Blocks - Corvallis 6 (Jessop 3), Hamilton 6 (Rebecka Lyons 3). Digs - Corvallis 62 (Laura Berner 17), Hamilton 56 (Presley Chadwick 21). Assists - Corvallis 31 (Lairen Phinney 19), Hamilton 31 (Conwell 21). Aces - Corvallis 8 (Julia Battisti 4), Hamilton 12 (Conwell 8).



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Sports Talk

Dealing with ups and downs

In the world of sports, it’s easy to get caught up in all the hoopla of winning and building powerful teams, even at the high school level. But sometimes we need to be reminded that winning isn’t everything. A couple of events happened this weekend that brought this to light once again.

Generally, as parents, we look to sports to teach our kids life lessons. When Sally and Tommy take to the courts or the playing fields when they are five or six, we parents really do want them to do well but also to enjoy the experience of a team and learning how to ‘play with others’. As the years roll on, expectations grow, as do the experiences.

Although not every experience teaches a lesson, the opportunity is always there. “Play to win, give it your all, make every point count” – we’ve all heard and probably uttered these very phrases. It sometimes seems as if the teams who struggle actually learn more ‘life’ lessons than those who are powerhouses. But the same rules and lessons apply; some just chose not to listen.

Saturday night, the Florence Falcons won the District 6B volleyball tournament on their home court. There was much excitement by the team, fans and friends. As with the end of any tournament, the trophies were handed out at the end of the final game of the match. Anyone who has attended any tournament knows this is how it’s done. It doesn’t matter if it is in Bozeman or Victor, Ekalaka or Superior.

So it was somewhat surprising when Loyola was called to come forward and receive their second place trophy and the team wasn’t there. They had left the court at the end of the match. Eventually the team made their way back from the locker rooms but after the awards ceremony.

I know they were disappointed with the loss, but it was a missed opportunity. This school consistently has top teams, no matter what the sport. They have some of the finest athletes around and are definitely used to winning. But, unfortunately, not everyone wins all of the time. This could have been an opportunity to show the student/athletes how to lose graciously. Stand, with your head up high, and accept that, on this night, there was room for improvement. Instead, the loss was diminished even more as was the win by Florence. This lack of respect for the game and the opponent was a missed opportunity.

Another opportunity, with a different outcome happened earlier this football season in Thompson Falls. Coach Doug Padden and Athletic Director Jason Reimer had the dubious task of self-reporting their football team to the Montana High School Association for playing an ineligible player during a couple of football games. This knocked the team out of the playoffs. It didn’t matter that this player had only played a couple of plays in each game. The rules are the rules and they had been broken. The lesson learned from this, ‘take responsibility and tell the truth.’

The memories made playing high school sports will live on. So will the lessons. Let’s make sure we remember what is really important. In the long run, it’s how we handle what life throws us.



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