Saturday, February 24, 2018

Hardin setter Shaunita Nomee dives for the ball during the first set of last Thursday’s home game against the Billings Central Rams.Hardin setter Shea Esp celebrates a successful kill against Billings Central during the third set.

Vying for first

Last Thursday’s home game between the Hardin Lady Bulldogs and Billings Central Rams was fast-paced with both volleyball teams showing effective blocks, sets and strikes. Hardin and Central are ranked at the top of the Eastern A conference, the Ladies in second and the Rams in first.
As with their Sept. 14 match-up against the Rams, the Ladies lost in three sets. Unlike the previous match, according to Hardin outside and middle hitter Demi Uffelman, her team’s passers and hitters were working well in tandem. Shortly after the Sept. 14 match, she had said, “We did not play very well at all.”
“Compared to last time, I think we went in fearless,” she said following last Thursday’s game. “We didn’t have the Central name stuck in our heads.”
Looking at the stats alone, Hardin almost kept pace with Central – they had 27 assists to the Rams’ 34, 26 kills to their 28, 47 digs to their 51 and three aces to their four. In the realm of blocks, they tied at five each.
This is an improvement for the Ladies over the Sept. 14 match, where they had 11 assists to the Rams’ 36, 12 kills to their 36, 45 digs to their 68, one ace to their 11 and two blocks to their three.
The final scores for last Thursday’s match didn’t get closer than within 8 points; the Ladies lost 14-25, 17-25 and 14-25. Nonetheless, they were improved from the Sept. 14 final scores, where Hardin fell behind by at least 13 points each set: 8-25, 12-25 and 9-25.
According to Hardin Head Coach Tiffany Moullet, the Ladies need to maintain their intensity and not let other teams, such as Central, go on scoring runs.
“We were doing a lot of things really well,” she said. “[We] just need to put it all together at the same time.
“If we kept with them point-for-point, we were doing really well. Then, we’d get in a lull and it was hard for us to recover.”
Uffelman added: “We had a couple times where – oops, then they had another 5.”
One thing that could help this issue, Moullet said, is for Hardin to have better timing with their blocking. Blocks were sometimes late during the Central game, allowing their opponents to score kills.
They also will be working on their serve-receive plays, Moullet continued, as her team had some difficulty controlling the ball, especially when dealing with unusual – or “out-of-system” – plays.
Nicole Green, one of Hardin’s main outside hitters, suffered a high-ankle sprain near the beginning of the third set, but recovered over the weekend.
The Ladies will be facing Laurel in an away game on Thursday and Sidney at home on Friday. Divisionals start Wednesday, Nov. 1 in Lewistown.
Billings Central def. Hardin: 25-14, 25-17 and 25-14
Assists: 27 – Shea Esp 24; Kills: 26 – Demi Uffelman 11 and Mariah Simmons 8; Blocks: 5 – Simmons 2.5 and Jonna Lind 1; Aces: 3 – Esp 1, Simmons 1 and Shaunita Nomee 1; Digs: 47 – Katie Murdock and Esp 11