By Tiffany L. Rehbein
The Chester Coyotes might have an easier time knocking off the five-time defending champion Bridger Scouts from the State Class C volleyball tournament.
Bridger did not qualify for the tournament this year.
Chester, who finished second at state last season, will open against Philipsburg at 11:15 a.m. on Thursday. The tournament will be held at Fergus County High School in Lewistown.
The Coyotes will enter the tournament as the No. 2 seed from the Northern Division.
Harlowton defeated the Coyotes in back-to-back championship matches to capture the No. 1 seed. They were the first losses for Chester all season.
The Coyotes boast a fairly young team, with four seniors, two juniors, and seven sophomores.
However, of those 13 players, 10 are returning letter-winners. Those players are returning from a team who finished the season 29-6, had won the district title for the 11th straight time, and had captured the divisional title.
Seniors Devan Lalum, Megan Mattson, Julie Martin, and Trisha Hilton are the veterans on the team this season.
Carlane Jensen is a junior is a fine hitter for the Coyotes. Hannah Brown is the other junior on the squad.
But the height is found in the sophomores.
Katy Engstrom and Emily Tranberg are both 5-foot-9, Michele Van Dyke is 5-foot-10, and Heidi Cicon is 5-foot-11.
The other four are 5-foot-5, -6, -7, and 5-foot-8. Van Dyke and Jamie Graham are athletic across the floor for the Coyotes.
Mari Temple and Chasi Buffington are strong as sophomores. But its the entire team concept that has led to the Coyotes success through the years.
Maci Temple, Mystel McKinley, and Emily Tranberg each play big roles on the team.
The Coyotes are on the same side of the bracket as No. 1-seeded Richey from the Eastern Division and No. 2-seeded Manhatatn Christian from the South. Richey, the State Class C basketball champion, boasts an undefeated record coming into the tournament.
Chester last won the state volleyball tournament in 1992.
Class C at Lewistown
9 a.m. Richey vs. Manhattan Christian
11:15 Philipsburg vs. Chester
1:30 Twin Bridges vs. Victor
3:45 Harlowton vs. Circle
6 p.m. Richey-Christian winner vs.
8 p.m. Twin Bridges-Victor winner vs. Harlowton-Circle winner