By Kim Staudinger
CHINOOK The Chinook Sugarbeeters' undefeated play in the postseason nearly ended at two different points in action Thursday at the North/East Divisional Volleyball Tournament in Chinook.
But guided by strong senior leadership and tough defensive play, Chinook rallied off consecutive wins over Cut Bank and Glasgow to advance to the semifinals tonight at 6.
Despite leading 3-0 early in the first game, the Sugarbeeters gave up various runs by Cut Bank to lose 15-6.
The Wolves led 7-0 to start the second game, and it looked as if Chinook would not be able to recover. Then, junior Jessica Hollingsworth four straight points to cut the lead to three. Hollingsworth later tied the game at eight.
Cut Bank took the lead again at 12-9, but Hollingsworth stepped up and served three straight points to tie the game for the third time. Miranda Sather served the next two points before Kelsie Whitney came on to end it.
Chinook head coach Paula Molyneaux said nerves may have had something to do with her team's play early, but that she was happy with how her team came back.
The Sugarbeeters took a 6-0 lead to start the third game, with Hollingsworth serving the first four points. Chinook increased its lead to 12-4 before the Wolves rallied off four consecutive points. Cut Bank added two more points before Chinook ended the game. The Sugarbeeters once again got stuck on 14 points before Tess Schuhmacher substituted in to serve the final point. Senior Kelly Acra read the defense, finding a hole to tip in the ball for the winning point.
Up two games to one, Chinook led early in the fourth game, but were unable to put the Wolves away and seal the win.
Maren Rice served three straight points for Cut Bank late in the game to tie it at 10-all. Rice's efforts led to three conseuctive serves by Danielle Stimson to give the Wolves at 13-12 lead late. But two serves by Kelsie Whitney and one by Susie Thackeray, propelling Chinook to the win.
Acra led Chinook with 14 of 50 kills. The Beeters had 118 digs with Thackeray and Sather each having 27. Hollingsworth had three of Chinook's eight aces.
Cut Bank was led by Julie Kimmet with 10 kills and seven blocks. Tia Coleman had four of the team's 11 aces, Bobbi Roseleip had 23 digs and 15 assists, and Stimson added seven blocks.
In the second round, Chinook faced off with foe Glasgow.
Chinook once again lost the first game 15-5. The Beeters rallied back to win the second game 15-7 and the third 16-14, before falling 15-10 in the fourth game. Chinook won the decisive game 15-12 to advance to the semifinals against Choteau tonight at 6.
Acra continued her tough play at the net with 20 kills. Whitney led with 26 digs and 40 assists. Hollingsworth and Savannah Wendeln each added three aces.
April Molstad led the Scotties with 32 kills and 32 digs. Amber Garten followed with eight stuff blocks, three aces and 51 assists.
In other action, Choteau beat Wolf Point 15-7, 15-3, 15-4; Malta defeated Simms 14-16, 16-14, 15-7, 15-7; Glasgow won over Conrad 12-15, 15-13, 15-9, 15-9; and Choteau beat Malta 10-15, 16-14, 15-12, 15-9.