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Trotters volley way to District 14C crown


November 1, 2018

John Hamilton

TROTTER JUNIOR Haley Josephson sets a shot for one of her teammates in Hot Springs Thursday.

All things being equal – and they pretty much were this season in District 14C volleyball – the Plains Trotters proved themselves to be a cut above the rest in the conference tournament at Hot Springs last Thursday and Friday.

Sanders County's two other 14C teams, Hot Springs and Noxon, both played well but fell Friday. Hot Springs, after winning their way into the first championship match with victories over St. Regis and Arlee Thursday, eventually settled for third place.

For their part, the Noxon Lady Red Devils took Plains to five sets in the first round Thursday before falling in that match. The Devils then lost to the No. 1 seeded Charlo Vikings in a loser-out match Friday.

The Trotters will now enter the Western C divisional tournament at Manhattan Christian Memorial Events Center in Churchill as 14C's No. 1 seed and will face off with Twin Bridges in the first round of that tourney at 1 p.m. Thursday.

"We are excited to be peaking at just the right moment, we played great in Hot Springs and hope to keep that up this week," Trotter coach Jesse Butcher said. "The key for us at the divisional tournament is to hit smart and to be ready defensively. The teams on the other side seem to play more of a defensive style than we do around here – they do take advantage of their opportunity to attack, but seem to be more centered on getting everything back."

Butcher and her Trotters know what lies ahead this week after advancing to the divisional level last year and just missing a trip to the State C tourney by finishing third. The teams that finished ahead of Plains, Ennis and Gardiner went on to win first and third at State.

"We were awfully close last year and are hoping to use our experience there last year to help us out this time," she said.

Plains' trip to the 14C title was a remarkably short one, a road less traveled after years of arduous district tournament journeys requiring multiple-match days just to finish in the top two, as the Trotters often have in recent seasons.

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Plains finished 4-0 in the 14C tourney this time, avoiding land mines along the way and playing the minimum number of matches required to win it.

"We had never taken the short road before," Butcher said, "but it was kind of nice actually. We had time to rest between matches and were able to watch the other teams play. And it was a super competitive tournament, with a lot of really good matches, we really enjoyed all of it."

The Trotters defeated Noxon Thursday in that tough five-setter, volleyed past Charlo in four tight sets later that day, and then took down Hot Springs in three sets in the undefeated match before beating Charlo again in the championship match Friday afternoon.

The Vikings had defeated St. Regis, Arlee and Hot Springs earlier Friday and were likely a little bedraggled by that point. If Charlo had defeated Plains in the first championship, a second, final championship would have been required in the double-elimination tourney.

The Trotters took care of that by knocking the Vikings off in four sets in the first championship match, foregoing the need for any more play at that point.

Rachel Huenink, Natalee Deschamps, Haley Josephson, Kylee Altmiller, Cree Lulack, Emma Morgan, Dakota Butcher, Miera Loberg, Audrey Brown, Dacia Black and Izzy Butcher are the roster members for the Trotters heading into the divisional tournament this weekend.

Altmiller led Plains past Plains in the undefeated match Friday with 11 kills, Josephson had 12 assists and Morgan two service aces in that encounter. No other individual statistics from the matches at the 14C tourney were available.

Plains and Noxon opened the tournament Thursday morning and the Trotters emerged with a hard-fought 20-25, 25-21, 25-18, 13-25, 15-10 victory, and host Hot Springs followed with a 25-11, 15-25, 25-9, 25-7 win over St. Regis.

Plains then defeated Charlo, which had not lost a 14C conference match all season, 27-25, 20-25, 25-20, 25-23, and Hot Springs outlasted Arlee in three tight sets, 26-24, 29-27, 26-24.

Back on court in loser-out play Friday morning, Charlo ousted St. Regis 25-14, 25-12, 25-11, and Arlee eliminated Noxon 25-13, 20-25, 25-23, 25-17. Charlo then defeated Arlee in the loser-fourth match 25-15, 17-25, 28-26, 25-23.

After falling to Plains in three sets as described earlier, Hot Springs then had to face Charlo, and Charlo prevailed, leaving Alisha Pablo and her scrappy Savage Heat in third. The set scores for the Charlo-Hot Springs consolation match or for the final Charlo-Plains match were not available.

The Heat were only a point or two away from having things swing their way but ultimately fell. Pablo has to be encouraged as most of her girls should return to Hot Springs volleyball in 2019. Claire McAllister, McKennzie Cannon, Brianna Gray, Sydney Jackson, Sage Jackson, Lizzy Fisher, Savannah Roosma and Katelyn Christensen were the Savage Heat roster members this season, and only McAllister is a senior out of that group.

Coach Teri Wilkinson's Noxon Lady Red Devils accorded themselves very well in their two tough matches in the tourney, giving Plains its most severe test of the two days and playing Arlee tough in loser-out action.

John Hamilton

TOWER OF POWER - Kylee Altmiller, pictured against Noxon Thursday, was a dominant force at the net for Plains in the 14C tourney last week.

Delaney Weltz, Kristina Brown, Madi Koonce, Kali Murray, Kendra Torti, Elizabeth Lampshire, Alivia Hill, Jenna Freeman, Chelsea Vohs, Vanessa Horner, Riley Richter and Rachel Ehinger were the players for the Lady Devils this season. Graduation will hit the Devils hard next season as Weltz, Brown, Koonce and Murray will be moving on.

Butcher is grateful to be on the other side of the bracket from Ennis and Gardiner this time around. "Those two teams have been very tough over the last several years," she said. "We feel we are on the better side of the bracket."

Clark Fork, the neighboring District 13C champions, will play Manhattan Christian at 11:30 a.m. Thursday followed by the Trotters facing Twin at 1 p.m. Ennis will square off with Charlo at 2:30 and Gardiner will play Seeley-Swan at 4 to complete the first round.


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