Lady Pirates bring home hardware
From left, Lady Pirates Grace Simonich, Camilla Foresti and Avery Starr celebrate a point at the state tournament in Bozeman. (Courtesy of Niki Graham)
The Polson Lady Pirates pose with their 2021 third-place trophy at the state volleyball tournament in Bozeman. (Courtesy of Bob Gunderson)
Avery Starr (17) sets the ball for Clara Todd (9) against Havre. (Courtesy of Bob Gunderson)
Avery Starr serves against Havre in the undefeated semifinal at state. (Courtesy of Niki Graham)
Polson's Clara Todd hits a shot against a wall of Havre players. (Courtesy of Niki Graham)
The Lady Pirates celebrate their victory over Corvallis on Thursday night at the Class A state tournament in Bozeman. (Courtesy of Bob Gunderson)
Polson's Mckenna Hanson hits a shot against Corvallis in front of teammates Kamdyn Burrough (18) and Camilla Foresti (6). (Courtesy of Bob Gunderson)
Polson's Liz Tolley tips a shot over the Corvallis front line on Thursday. (Courtesy of Bob Gunderson)
Camilla Foresti fires a shot against Miles City in front of teammantes Mckenna Hanson (2) and Liz Tolley (7). (Courtesy of Bob Gunderson)
Polson head coach Lizzy Cox talks with her team during a break in action at the state tournament in Bozeman. (Courtesy of Bob Gunderson)
Clara Todd goes for a kill against Miles City. (Courtesy of Bob Gunderson)
Lake County Leader | November 16, 2021 2:15 PM
As with most marathons, the final stretch of the 2021 volleyball season proved to be the toughest for a talented Lady Pirates squad that made a determined run at a Class A state title.
Polson entered the state tournament at Bozeman last weekend with a 16-2 record, and promptly improved that with opening wins against Miles City (three sets) and Corvallis (four sets) to advance to the Friday night undefeated semifinal against Havre, the No. 3 seed out of the East.
The Blue Ponies were the surprise of the tournament. They opened with a three-set victory of West No. 2 seed Ronan, then knocked off East No. 1 Billings Central 17-25, 25-20, 26-24, 25-20 in their second match.
With defending champ Billings Central taking a loss, the Lady Pirates likely were right where they wanted to be, but the Blue Ponies’ string of upsets wasn’t over.
Polson came out flat in the first set, falling 25-16, but evened the match with a 25-22 win in the second set.
During the divisional tournament in Ronan, the Lady Pirates had shown an ability to take sets late, even when their opponents had an advantage. However, those late rallies just weren’t there on Friday night.
The third and fourth sets were both close late. The third was tied at 16-16 before the Blue Ponies went on a run to win 25-19. Polson tried to rally late again in the fourth, but never narrowed the deficit to fewer than three points. Havre closed out the fourth with a 25-21 win to advance to the championship match.
Polson had 45-31 advantage in kills on Friday, led by Mckenna Hanson with 14, Camilla Foresti with 12 and Liz Tolley with nine.
On defense, Havre held a 12-5 edge in blocks.
Avery Starr had 29 of Polson’s 41 assists, while Foresti led with 19 digs and three aces.
The loss sent Polson to a third-place clash with Billings Central on Saturday and their shot at a state title still intact.
The defending champs were not ready to step aside, however, and they ended Polson’s season with a convincing 25-12, 25-22, 25-15 win.
Service return was an issue for the Lady Pirates, who managed one ace compared to 12 for the Rams. Polson also recorded just two blocks, one by Grace Simonich and another from Starr, who also had 21 assists and eight digs.
Foresti, a senior exchange student, closed out her one-season stint with Polson with a team-high 10 kills and eight digs. Hanson, a sophomore, had nine kills. Tolley had six kills and seven digs in her final match.
The Rams went on to defeat Havre in a pair of championship matches Saturday to claim their third state title in four years. The last team from the Northwest to win a state title was Columbia Falls in 2016.
The Lady Pirates finished with a record of 18-4 and a third-place plaque from state.
Polson’s state tournament stats
161 KILLS (Foresti 44, Hanson 39, Tolley 37, C.Todd 23, Simonich 12, Starr 6); 20 ACES (Starr 7, Tolley 4, Foresti 3, Simonich 3, Hanson 2, Burrough); 148 ASSISTS (Starr 108, Simonich 21, Foresti 6, Hanson 3, Tolley 3, T.Pierre); 10 BLOCKS (Tolley 4, Starr 3, Simonich 2, T.Pierre); 205 DIGS (Foresti 52, Starr 39, Hanson 34, Tolley 28, Simonich 25, Barnard 18, C.Todd 6, Burrough 3).
Billing Central def. Polson 25-12, 25-22, 25-15
KILLS – BC-31 (Leikam-Morton 8, A. Williams 8, Hansen 8); P-32 (Foresti 10, Hanson 9, Tolley 6, Todd 3, Simonich 3, Starr). ACES – BC-12 (Leikam-Morton 3, A. Williams 3, Stewart 2, Foster 2, Yocum 2); P-1 ( Simonich). ASSISTS – BC-28 (Stewart 22, Foster 5); P-30 (Starr 21, Simonich 4, Todd 2, Foresti, Barnard). BLOCKS – B-C7 (Woods 3.5, Hansen 2.5); P-2 (Starr 1bs, Simonich 1bs). DIGS – BC-37 (Stewart 10, Williams 7, Moore 7); P-33 (Foresti 8, Starr 8, Tolley 7, Simonich 6, Hanson 2, Barnard 2).
Havre def. Polson 25-16, 22-25, 25-19, 25-21
KILLS – H-32 (Miller 8, Carlson 7, Columbus 6); P-45 (Hanson 14, Foresti 12, Tolley 9, Todd 7, Starr 2, Simonich). ACES – H-7 (Wendland 4, Oliver, Huse); P-6 (Foresti 3, Simonich, Starr, Tolley). ASSISTS – H-27 (Huse 27); P-41 (Starr 29, Simonich 8, Foresti 2, Tolley, Pierre). BLOCKS – H-12 (Miller 4, Huse 3, Columbus 3); P-5 (Tolley 3bs, Simonich 1bs, Starr 1bs). DIGS – H-69 (Oliver 21, Carlson 12, Jarvis 12); P-61 (Foresti 19, Hanson 12, Starr 11, Simonich 7, Tolley 6, Barnard 5, C.Todd).
Polson def. Corvallis 25-17, 20-25, 25-14, 25-22
KILLS – P-44 (Tolley 13, Foresti 11, Hanson 9, Todd 6, Starr 2, Simonich); C-27 (Gilder 17, T. Lewis 3, Sorensen 3). ACES – P-6 (Hanson 2, Tolley 2, Starr 2); C-7 (M. Lewis 3, Colaprete 2, Anderson). ASSISTS – P-39 (Starr 32, Simonich 2, Tolley 2, Foresti, Todd, Barnard); C-19 (T. Lewis 13, Colaprete 4, Gilder). BLOCKS – P-2 (Starr 2bs); C-9 (M. Lewis 2, Gilder 2, Colaprete 2). DIGS – P-68 (Foresti 15, Starr 13, Hanson 11, Simonich 9, Tolley 8, Barnard 8, Todd 4); C-58 (Gilder 15, Anderson 11, Colaprete 8).
Polson def. Miles City 25-11, 25-23, 25-19
KILLS – MC-17 (Sutter 6); P-42 (Foresti 11, Tolley 9, Hanson 7, Todd 7, Simonich 7, Starr). ACES – MC-5 (Anderson 2, Nowicki 2); P-7 (Starr 4, Tolley, Simonich, Burrough). ASSISTS – MC-15 (L. Jones 8, Gallo 7); P-38 (Starr 26, Simonich 7, Foresti 2, Hanson 2, Barnard). BLOCKS – MC-5 (Sutter 2, Nowicki 2); P-2 (Tolley 1bs, Pierre 1bs). DIGS – MC-29 (L. Jones 5, Lockle 5); P-43 (Foresti 10, Hanson 9, Starr 7, Tolley 7, Burrough 3, Simonich 3, Barnard 3, Todd).