One of the beats I have had since I’ve been a paid reporter is covering high school volleyball.
It started at the Wolf Point Herald News with the Lady Wolves, who I had fun covering for the fall season. Then I worked at the Cheney Free Press where I covered the Blackhawks volleyball team, who won two League championships, one District title in two of the three years I was covering them. I am now coming off my first season of covering the Lind-Ritzville/Sprague High School volleyball team.
I’ve written about the different aspects I love about volleyball – the strategy teams put together, the back-and-forth action and the personality of the athletes to name a few. The Lady Broncos team embodied some of the qualities I love in watching in a team compete. I’ve said it before, watching volleyball can be like watching an exciting MMA or boxing match.
Last night, LRS finished their season at the District 7 Tournament after back-to-back losses against Colfax, a powerhouse team that has been to the 2B State Tournament eight times in the last eight years – and St. George’s – who despite being a prep school were as hardy as the Lady Broncos.
It was a bittersweet end to what was a rollercoaster season for LRS, who finished 7-3 in league play and 10-7 overall. Although this year’s record wasn’t the 12-4 they earned in 2016, but it was certainly better than the 5-14 two years ago.
As cliche as this sounds, for what this team lacked in wins, they made up for it in technique and scrappiness on the court.
This squad had plenty of powerful hitters like Alarah Pierce-Pulliam, Rachel Schell, Peyton Curtis and Sierra Kiel. You also had vocal leaders like Lacey Miller and Emma Aldrich, who helped keep the team focus. Kierstin Witt, Ellie Gering and Tessa O’Brien shined on defense. In all honesty, all of these names had moments on offense and defense – one of the aspects of prep sports is athletes have multiple roles.
There were matches when it took the Lady Broncos a set or two to find their groove – which I equated to Eastern Washington’s Eagles football team, which is known for being a second-half team. I also thought they reminded me of tough MMA fighters – like Wanderlei Silva and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira – who would battle their opponents until the end.
The Lady Broncos will lose six seniors to graduation, and they will be missed, but I’m also looking forward to next year’s varsity team.
Standouts like Witt and Miller will be seniors and bring their leadership experience to the forefront while Eliza Galbreath and Ellie Gering will be battle-tested juniors. There are also JV and C Squad players who will no doubt take advantage of the opportunity to step up into a varsity role.
To quote the late, great “Macho Man” Randy Savage, “the cream will rise to the top.”
So I’ll raise my glass to the Lady Broncos volleyball team for a good season and I’ll be counting down the days until next year.