Saturday, August 19, 2017

Lady Bulldog middle hitter Shelby Uffelman spikes the ball towards Corvallis hitters last Thursday afternoon at the state volleyball tournament in Bozeman. Outside hitters Ashley Uffelman (shouting) and Elissa Lind (right) qualified for 2nd Team All-Conference, and All-State and 1st Team All-Conference respectively. Middle hitter Keaunna Mason also qualified for the All-State and 1st Team All-Conference teams.Setter Shea Esp dives to return the ball against Corvallis. Corvallis were a defense-focused team, according to Hardin outside hitter Ashley Uffelman, and were able to find gaps in Ladies’ own defense.

Moving up in Eastern A

Hardin volleyball future looks bright, according to players
Hardin just needed that one team to go, that one team to get the ball rolling.” – Elissa Lind, outside hitter
Hardin’s Lady Bulldog volleyball team made it to state this year at Montana State University-Bozeman, but they weren’t able to quite break the surface in the brackets after being knocked out of the tournament by Corvallis and Billings Central. Nonetheless, team players were happy to get the chance to give the competition a shot, or possibly a spike in this context.
 
Though they didn’t place in state, a goal mentioned last week by defensive specialist Korah Lachenmeier, they are hopeful next year’s team will be able to make it further along.
 
“Hardin just needed that one team to go, that one team to get the ball rolling,” outside hitter Elissa Lind said. “I think we were definitely the right team to do that.”
 
For Lind and middle hitter Keaunna Mason, earning a spot in the state competition was especially poignant, given that this is their last year playing for Hardin. They intend to continue their volleyball careers into college.
 
“I’m glad that us as seniors took our team up to state,” Mason said. “It was quite an experience.”
 
For their efforts, Mason and Lind were two of five Eastern A Division volleyball players to qualify for the All-State team and two of six to qualify for the 1st Team All-Conference. In addition, junior outside hitter Ashley Uffelman qualified for 2nd Team All-Conference.
 
This will be Mason’s second time playing on the All-State team after getting a spot during her junior year.
 
“I think all of us worked really hard for what we earned,” Lind said.
 
In the first game against Corvallis late last Thursday afternoon, Mason said, the team started out “jittery,” but then “got back into our groove.” Corvallis was up to the task, however, and were able to defeat the Ladies in three sets with the help of their strong defense.
 
According to Uffelman, the team would likely have competed better against Corvallis had they found their opponents’ “open spots.”
 
“…because they found ours,” she added.
 
The final scores in the Corvallis match were 25-23, 25-16 and 25-18.
 
Lind scored the most of Hardin’s 27 kills with five, Mason blocked the most shots with five of 10 total, Lind collected the ball 15 times for the most of her team’s 62 digs, Kourtney Chavez set up 15 of the team’s 17 assists, and Chavez also served both of the team’s aces.
 
Friday’s match with Billings Central ended much the same way as the one with Corvallis: the Ladies lost in three sets. Emotions in regards to this match were complicated.
 
“We came out with a lot of confidence and I feel like we were put under pressure at the same time,” Mason said. “We still fought hard.”
 
Uffelman said she thought, physically, the team brought just as much to the table as Central, but Lind added that the team has “always had a mental block” when it comes to this opponent.
 
“We just need to push past that,” Lind said.
 
The final scores for the game were 25-15, 25-22 and 25-20.
 
Lind scored the most kills with 10 of the team’s 29 total, three members of the team deflected the ball once, Lind received the most digs with nine of 39, Chavez coordinated 23 of 26 assists and Katie Murdock served the most aces with two of four.
 
Though Head Coach Tiffany Moullet was unavailable for comment at press time, Lind wanted to make sure to recognize her for her work with the team.
 
“Even off the court, if it isn’t volleyball, she’s still really supportive,” Lind said. “She’s had a big impact on my life and, I’m pretty sure, the rest of the girls who are on the team.
 
“All of us girls love her.”
 
Uffelman added that Moullet was one of the team’s biggest fans.
 
Without trust in the coach, Lind said, the volleyball team “wouldn’t go anywhere.”
 
“There’s a lot of trust that comes with volleyball: Trust in your teammates, trust in yourself,” she said. “When you’re on the court, you’re a family.”
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