The Big Sandy Mountaineer -

Big Sandy host for district volleyball as Pioneers shake up


October 21, 2020

Senior, Alicia Bjornestad

Big Sandy is set to host play in the first two rounds of the District 7C volleyball tournament Oct. 29 and 30.

"That's huge," Pioneers coach Brittany McKenney said. "We've never hosted tournaments here."

The bottom half of the bracket, featuring the second-seed facing off against the seventh and the third-seed against the sixth, would begin Oct. 29 with subsequent semifinal and consolation matches featuring those teams in the Big Sandy gym. In the final rounds, the remaining teams would join the upper half of the bracket (seeds 1, 4, 5 and 8) in Fort Benton. The top four teams in the district tournament will advance to divisionals, The Pioneers made a Cinderella run to that level when the tournament took place at North Star a year ago.

Rudyard planned to host the district tourney again in 2020, before the COVID-19 pandemic began to overwhelm Hill County. The Chouteau County towns stepped up when the tournament needed to relocate.

The Pioneers are clinging to the sixth seed, with the potential tiebreaker over Centerville gained in a match Tuesday, Oct. 13, at Big Sandy.

The purple-and-gold fell in four sets to the visiting Miners but hold a 4-3 set victory advantage after sweeping the Miners a week prior on the road. That could be the ultimate difference in determining the sixth seed.

Centerville prevailed 26-24, 24-26, 25-19, 25-18 after Big Sandy scrambled to find new rotations that could jell when versatile junior Tavie Wortman went down with a sprained ankle two points into the match.

"We obviously had to adjust," McKenney said. "I feel like we adapted fairly well given the circumstances but we couldn't put it together and finish and get the win."

While the Pioneers had their moments, they could never find a rhythm.

"We weren't staying on a roll. We'd finally get the serve and then we couldn't keep the serve," McKenney said.

Playing with teammates in unfamiliar positions, "that hesitation started to show up," McKenney said. "When you lose a player that's basically on the court 24/7, you lose that overall trust."

Junior, Amiya Griffith goes for the kill.

Underclassmen like Malaysia Baumann will be counted on to accept a greater role if Wortman cannot return at full strength. Coaches anticipated after the match that she would be doubtful for the regular season finale on Saturday, Oct. 24 at home against Chester-Joplin-Inverness.

"We told (Baumann) we are going to need to work on being in there these next eight practices," McKenney said.

Baumann recorded a team-high seven digs against the Miners. Senior Alicia Bjornestad led the Pioneers with 12 assists. Amiya Griffith put down 13 kills and combined on a block with Angie Sant. Rylee Cavill led or tied for the team lead in the Centerville effort for kills, blocks and service aces.

Kills: Centerville 28, Big Sandy 23; Aces: Centerville 10, Big Sandy 4; Digs: Big Sandy 32, Centerville 14; Blocks: Centerville 6, Big Sandy 4; Assists: Centerville 25, Big Sandy 20


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