Coyotes lose two as title hopes are dashed Friday
By Kim Staudinger
It wasn't the place they hoped to be, nor was it the place they were expected to be in the loser's bracket.
Chester lost its opening-round match at the Class C State Volleyball Tournament Friday in Lewistown to Manhattan Christian 15-13, 15-11, 12-15, 15-7. Senior Katy Engstrom led with 14 kills and four aces. Coyote Michele VanDyke added nine kills and Chasi Buffington added four aces.
"We didn't come out very strong in the first game against Manhattan Christian," senior setter Maci Tempel said. Tempel said team members weren't very upset by the loss, knowing they could still come back and win a state title.
Chester matched up with Jordan in loser-out action Friday afternoon. Jordan had lost in the first round to the eventual champion, Harlowton.
Chester defeated Jordan 15-1, 15-10, 16-14 to knock the Mustangs out of the tournament. VanDyke and Engstrom led with 11 kills each. VanDyke added six stuff blocks, four aces and eight digs. Buffington chipped in 13 digs.
Just a few short hours later, Chester was back on the court, facing Twin Bridges. The winner would move on to play in the fourth-place match.
Chester lost the first two games 15-13, 15-12, then came back to win the next two 15-9, 15-1. The Coyotes fell short in the fifth game with rally scoring, 15-5.
Tempel said Chester had never been in a game with rally scoring and had never had a match go to five games. In fact, the Coyotes had rarely played in games that went to four games.
"It was kind of a new situation for us," Tempel said. "We weren't quite ready for rally scoring."
In the loss, VanDyke led with 28 kills,19 digs and four stuff blocks. Engstrom followed with 18 kills and four stuff blocks. Tempel also added 18 digs and 22 assists. Senior Jamie Graham led with 31 assists and two aces.
"It didn't quite work out how we wanted it to," Tempel said.
Once Chester was out of the tournament, Tempel said she and her teammates were rooting for Harlowton. Harlowton went on to win the title with a five-game win over Manhattan Christian.
"The group of girls (on the Harlowton team) are just awesome," Tempel said. "That's who I wanted to win after we lost out. I was glad to see that they pulled through."
Chester won the District 6C title at the district tournament, beating Sunburst. They won the divisional title on their home floor, again defeating Sunburst in the title game.
For the six seniors on the Chester team, last weekend marked the last time they will play competitive ball at the high school level together. While some will go on to play college basketball together, Tempel said, she wishes she could get one more chance to play high school ball with her very close friends.
"I would love to be able to play with them again," she said. "Just one more basketball game or volleyball even. Just one more game."
The Chester girls basketball team won the state championship in the fall.