Pioneer spikers making strides


September 11, 2019

Senior Stacey Allderdice spikes the ball against the Sugarbeeters.

The Big Sandy Lady Pioneers have had their ups and downs in the early going this fall.

The Pioneer varsity finished in a fifth-place tie at the Cascade Invitational during the weekend after purple-and-gold squads at each level struggled Thursday against perennial league powerhouse Chinook.

In pool play Friday, the Pioneer varsity took the first set 21-20 against the hosts but fell 21-15 in the second set. They lost 21-15, 21-12 to cross-county rival Fort Benton before downing Centerville 21-20, 21-17. The Pioneers concluded the day with a 21-11, 12-21 split against the junior varsity for Class B Belt.

The Belt varsity proved too tough, beating the Pioneer girls 25-6, 25-11 to begin play Saturday morning. Big Sandy then outmatched the Fort Benton JV 25-24, 25-19 before they fell 25-23, 25-19 to host Cascade to wrap up the tournament.

"Overall, we played much better than last weekend. Our hustle and teamwork improved greatly," Pioneers coach Brittany McKenney said. "We have been working on bringing up the energy throughout each match. Some players really stepped it up and I'm proud of the way we played."

McKenney said her players did not have to deal with the turnaround from a late night match at Centerville that left few hours for sleep prior to the previous Belt tournament "where we played sluggish."

Big Sandy traveled Thursday to its 6C East foe in Chinook and varsity and JV alike were swept in straight sets by the Sugarbeeters.

In the varsity match, the Pioneers fell 25-17, 25-18 and 25-21, improving each set but running out of time.

"We had a slow start so we kind of struggled," McKenney said. "By the third (set), we got better ... but it was too little, too late."

Seeing the best their conference has to offer should give the Pioneers some insight into where they need to improve.

"We were serving better tonight," McKenney said after the Chinook match. "We showed a lot of hustle, which was exciting. We need to work on our blocking and we need some more defensive work as well."

Hope Gasvoda led the Pioneers with 2 kills while Amanda Cline had a team-high 2 aces and 7 digs. Lainey Gregory tied for the team lead with 7 digs and led the Pioneers with 5 assists. Alicia Bjornestad recorded a team-high 2 blocks.

Meanwhile, the junior high Pioneers could not take advantage of home court against the Beeters. Strong serving by Kaya Demontiney on an 8-0 run put Big Sandy out in front 12-6 in the first set before Hadley Gustitis of Chinook took control. Gustitis served up 12 straight points to bring the Beeters back from down 17-13 and take the set 25-17. She continued to work the corners of the court on her serves in the second set, building a 3-2 lead to 15-2, en route to a 25-7 win.

In junior high action Friday, the Pioneers were defeated by the visiting St. Jude Thaddeus 49ers from Havre.

Senior Amanda Cline digs the ball during tournament play in Cascade.


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