The Chester Coyotes volleyball team retained its claim to a dynasty.
With the Coyotes' 15-3, 15-4, 15-5 win Saturday over Sunburst in the District 6C volleyball championship game, Chester marked the 14th straight year of winning the district title. In fact, Chester head coach Don VanDessell said, the Coyotes have not lost at the district tournament since moving back down to a Class C school.
Chester now advances to the divisional tournament this weekend. In his tenure, VanDessell said, his team has only a few losses in divisionals and have never finished below third place.
"We've played very well at divisionals," he said.
The top two teams from the divisional tournament move on to the state tournament March 14-16 in Lewistown. But, as VanDessel said, the road to the state tournament is challenging.
"It's not easy to get there," he said. "It's a tough situation in Class C with districts and then divisionals. You have a lot of games to play."
VanDessel said that with the success his teams have seen, trips to the state tournament are almost expected.
"It puts a lot of pressure in that respect," he said. "It's an opportunity, definitely not a right or a privilege."
If the success of the Coyotes in the past doesn't add enough of an advantage, Chester is the host of the divisional tournament.
"It's always nice to play at home," VanDessell said. "You don't have the travel time. It's a definite advantage for the kids. You get to stay in your own home, eat your own food."
Senior Michele VanDyke led Chester's championship attack Saturday with 16 kills and two blocks. Katy Engstrom and Chasi Buffington added 11 and seven kills, respectively. Engstrom added three aces in the win.
Sunburst was led by Carly Kleinert's 16 kills.
The matchup between Chester and Sunburst was the fourth of the season and the second of the tournament. Chester defeated Sunburst earlier Saturday morning 15-6, 15-8, 16-14 to advance to the championship round.
VanDessell said Sunburst has been a nemesis of Chester's from Day One, noting the only time Chester lost the district title was to Sunburst.
"They've got a good ballclub," VanDessel said. "But our first and second rotations are so strong, there's not a breather in our rotations. Sunburst has Carly (Kleinert) up front, but they may not be quite as solid as we are all around."
In the opening round of the divisional tournament, Chester will face Dutton/Brady Thursday night at 6:30. Valier and Blue Sky will follow the Chester game. Big Sandy and Belt will open the tournament Thursday afternoon at 1:30 with Sunburst and Centerville to follow.