Lady Pioneers measure against league's best


September 2, 2020

An opening week against upper-tier league foes Chinook and North Star sent Big Sandy volleyball to the school of hard knocks.

The defending league champion Sugarbeeters swept the host Pioneers, 25-15, 25-17, 25-22 Thursday to begin the 2020 season.

Big Sandy grew in confidence and competitiveness throughout the match despite the sweep.

"I told the girls right away I don't think we have anything to hang our heads about," Pioneers head coach Brittany McKenney said. "Chinook is a strong team. It's a big deal to come out and to really compete with them."

"We're meshing a little bit better than we have before," sophomore Angie Sant said.

Fellow sophomore Caydence Pleninger provided a spark, serving aggressively from the match's start.

"We had both Caydence and Angie obviously playing a lot on varsity," McKenney said. "I'm excited for them because they did step up."

Big Sandy played its best set in the third, despite falling behind 6-1.

"We're starting this year knowing if we get down, we can come back," McKenney said.

Senior Amiya Griffith led the Pioneers with a team-high 10 kills and match-high 10 digs. Senior Alicia Bjornestad had team highs of three aces and three assists. Sant recorded a pair of timely blocks to lead the Big Sandy effort.

The Knights from Rudyard knocked off the Pioneers, 25-21, 25-8, 31-29, Saturday at Big Sandy.

Big Sandy showed a tendency to play their best in comeback mode but be uncomfortable holding a lead.

Up 24-19, the Pioneers slipped and became locked in a marathon final set.

"We really should have had that third set earlier. If we would have finished, we should have had them," McKenney said. "I think we need to get used to being ahead. We're used to being the underdog, clawing back."

The Pioneers had to rebound from a disappointing second set.

"We didn't stay down ... and we proved we are here to play," McKenney said.

Griffith had a game-high 10 kills. Bjornestad led Big Sandy with three aces and three assists. Junior Tavie Wortman had 6 digs for the Pioneers.

In junior varsity action, Chinook beat Big Sandy 25-12, 25-20, 15-1 and North Star beat Big Sandy 25-13, 25-17, (14-16), 15-4. The Chinook junior high beat Big Sandy 25-22, 25-20, 15-9 and 25-11, (16-25), 15-8.


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