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LHS dominates Ronan; prepares for divisionals

by Brad FuquaWestern News
| November 9, 2009 11:00 PM

Following a pair of three-game sweeps last week, the Libby High School volleyball team now turns its attention to the Northwestern A Divisional Tournament. And if the Lady Loggers can come through as one of the top two teams, a berth in the state playoffs will follow.

“As far as records going in, it’s a new season,” Libby coach Cindy Ostrem-Johnston said. “You have to prove yourself out on the court.”

The Lady Loggers proved themselves as a well-rounded squad with hitting, serving, passing and setting ability in lopsided victories to end the regular season. On Friday, Libby won on the road over Columbia Falls, 25-15, 25-18, 25-19, and followed with a Senior Night home victory on Saturday over Ronan, 25-11, 25-15, 25-5.

Libby finished 6-2 in the conference with both of those losses coming to Polson. The Loggers open divisionals on their own floor at Ralph Tate Gymnasium on Friday at 11 a.m. against Whitefish – a particular opponent that Ostrem-Johnston said “will be gunning for us.”

Libby swept Whitefish in the conference but split with the Bulldogs two weekends ago during the Missoula Invitational.

Ostrem-Johnston believes her team is in a good position as the No. 2 seed.

“Polson has a big target on them,” she said. “I think they have the pressure coming into this tournament. We have that to our advantage. You definitely don’t want to overlook anybody.”

The tournament actually begins on Thursday evening at 7 with Columbia Falls and Ronan squaring off. The winner will play Polson on Friday at 1 p.m. in a match that follows Libby-Whitefish. If Libby wins, the Loggers would play at 7 p.m. Friday most likey against Polson.

The championship is scheduled for 5 p.m. Saturday, with a second to follow if necessary under the double-elimination format.

Libby dominated in the weekend win over Ronan. Jackie Mee finished with 16 kills and an amazing .667 attack percentage. Alex Kulbeck, who was sick earlier in the week, had a good outing with eight kills and a .667 attack percentage. Alysha Martin added six kills and a .500 percentage.

“I thought it was a nice way to end the season with senior night,” Ostrem-Johnston said. “They finally put a team away, 25-5 that last game. We haven’t really done that all season.”

Evi Cernick had 33 assists and Kulbeck came up with two blocks. Mee and Logan Best also were credited with blocks. At the service line, Best, Kulbeck and Cernick each had three aces.

Cernick also served 90 percent.

“She’s been very consistent serving and has done a great job setting,” Ostrem-Johnston said. “It’s not easy running a 5-1 offense and we count on her every game to deliver the sets to hitters.”

Mee and Best each had seven digs. Mee was a perfect 3.00 on the serve-ratio percentage but made only three passes.

In the win over Columbia Falls, Martin played well with nine digs, a 2.50 serve-receive ratio, 100-percent serving with four aces, four kills and a .214 attack percentage.

“I thought Alysha Martin played well in all aspects of the game against Columbia Falls,” Ostrem-Johnston said. “She showed up in pratically every category and just played consistent.”

The Lady Loggers were pushed by Columbia Falls, especially early in two of the three games. But LHS finished strong and had runs of seven points with Cernick serving in game 2 and a run of 10 points with Martin serving in game 3.

Libby’s serving was among its best this season with a success rate of 93.2 percent. Besides Martin, Cernick and Kulbeck also had four aces. Cernick, Martin and Katie Emery were all perfect from the service line.

Mee finished with 12 kills and a .429 attack percentage. Kulbeck came up with five kills and a .214 percentage. Cernick contributed 23 of the team’s 24 assists. Mee and Kulbeck each had a block. And along with Martin, Best also had nine digs. Mee had a team-high 2.50 serve-receive ratio.