The Columbia Falls volleyball season came to a close in Bozeman Friday as the Wildkats went 1-2 at the State Volleyball Tournament at the Brick Breeden Field House on the campus of Montana State University.
The Kats came into the tournament as the second seed from the Western A Division and opened with a sweep of Hardin Thursday before falling to Billings Central later that day and Havre on Friday.
For head coach Jolandie Brooks and the Wildkats, it was a disappointing ending to a season in which the squad went undefeated in Northwest A Conference play and ended the season 16-5.
“This season didn’t finish like I’ve been scheming it to for awhile now but life goes far beyond a court and a ball,” Brooks said. “This season brought with it the potential for these girls to learn more about themselves as people and how to navigate through what could be difficult situations. I just hope that I’ve done my job in teaching them about the bigger picture in life.”
The Kats opened the state tournament with a dominant three-set win over Hardin, defeating the Lady Bulldogs 25-21, 25-10, 25-17.
Dillen and Mady Hoerner each had 11 of the Kats’ 42 kills and two aces each in the win while Kamber Brown had 37 assists. Kiera Brown had three blocks and Grace Gedlaman added two while Angellica Street had 13 of the team’s 48 digs with Dillen Hoerner added 12.
Kamber Brown recorded 42 assists and Street had 21 assists but the Kats fell short against Eastern Division Champion Billings Central in their second game Thursday, 25-22, 21-25, 25-12, 25-15.
Mady Hoerner had 13 of the team’s 48 kills while Kiera Brown added two blocks.
The Kats pushed Havre to the brink Friday afternoon, but lost a hard-fought match to the Blue Ponies in their final game of the season, 25-17, 21-25, 20-25, 25-10, 15-13.
After dropping the first set, Columbia Falls took the next two to go up 2-1, but Havre was able to escape with wins in the final two sets to get the victory. The teams battled to ties at 9-9, 11-11, 12-12 and 13-13 in the deciding set before Havre’s Jessa Chvilicek scored the final two points with a kill and a block.
Street had 39 of the team’s 86 digs and four aces in the loss while Maddie Stutsman had 35 assists and Kiera Brown added 15 kills and four blocks.
After finishing 1-2 at the state tournament for the second straight season, Brooks says next year’s squad will look to focus more on the mental aspect of the game.
“I think we learned that we’re not where we need to be mentally. We don’t carry ourselves with a winning mentality in close games, yet,” she said. “That’s my goal moving forward, to cultivate a winning mentality into this program with mental toughness.”
Of the Kats five losses this season, one came to state runner up Billings Central and three came against eventual Class A state champion Corvallis.