BELMONT — Potosi head volleyball coach Jolene Murray wasn’t quite sure what to expect out of her young Chieftains going into Saturday’s Six Rivers Jamboree at Belmont.
Murray, who led Potosi to five Six Rivers West titles in eight years from 2001 to 2008, has returned to the program this year as a one-year fill-in.
She inherits a young team that includes just three seniors from last year’s sectional qualifying team. ut what Murray saw from her new-look group on Saturday pleasantly surprised the veteran coach.
The Chieftains went 3–1 and finished second out of nine teams Saturday. The difference between first and third place came down to the point differential tie-breaker as Benton narrowly edged Potosi and Belmont for the tournament title.
The Braves, the Zephyrs and the Chieftains all won their respective pools to open the tournament, and each posted a 1–1 record in their Gold Pool matches.
Belmont (2–1–1 overall) defeated Benton, 25–18, 17–25, 15–13, in its first Gold Pool match, but fell to Potosi (3–1), 25–20, 18–25, 8–15, in its second match for a minus-six point differential.
With a chance to win the title Potosi stumbled and dropped a 25–23, 21–25, 15–4 decision to Benton. The Zephyrs were then declared the tournament champion with a plus-eight point differential. Potosi finished second with zero differential.
Behind the steady play of seniors Taylor Kennedy and Taryn Stappert, and juniors Maddie Hawes and Calie Gibson, Potosi swept its opening pool matches with wins over Argyle, 26–24, 25–19, and Ithaca, 25–11, 25–11.
“I thought we played awesome,” said Murray. “Calie played very well for her first time setting in competition. Taylor Kennedy was consistent all day and Maddie Hawes really stepped up in the Belmont match. Our defense was also very good. Our blocking really surprised me. We are not very tall, but the girls really timed their blocks well.”
Kennedy finished the day with a team-high 40 kills and 12 blocks. Hawes added 29 kills. Freshman Abby Kaiser chipped in 11 blocks. Stappert led the team with 35 digs and nine aces, and Gibson passed out a team-high 67 assists.
“I would have liked to win the tournament, but I was really happy with second place,” said Murray. “This was a very good start for us. As a coach that was not there for the past couple of years, I didn’t know what to expect from other teams in our conference, but Saturday was an eye opener. It’s going to be a real competitive conference this year. But if we continue to work hard and keep getting better we have as good a shot as anyone at winning this year’s conference title.
Potosi opens Six Rivers West play Thursday at Highland. The Chieftains will then travel to Shullsburg on Tuesday.
Under third-year coach Lauren Runde, defending Six Rivers West champion Belmont advanced to the Gold Pool by winning its pool with a 3–1 record. The Braves split with Six Rivers East foe Black Hawk, 25–20, 15–25, and swept West rival Cassville, 25–19, 25–13.
“Overall, it was a pretty good day for us,” said Runde. “We definitely have some things to work on, but that’s expected. This tournament was a very competitive one. I think it’s a good indicator of what this season is going to end up like. There were a lot of close games and a battle until the end.”
Senior setter Katelyn Schobert distributed 81 assists to keep the Braves’ offense rolling throughout the day. Senior Jannie deHaan led the team with 35 kills and had four service aces, while senior Keegan Kamps chipped in with 18 kills, 26 digs, six aces and four blocks.
Sophomore Maddie Rand led the team with 29 digs. Junior Alie Klien added 17 kills, and senior Brianna Riechers tallied eight blocks and three aces. Sophomores Paige Nolan had 10 digs and Caitlyn Gilbertson made three blocks for the Braves.
“It was nice to see our stats and having a different leader in each category. Each girl stepped up and filled her role,” added Runde.
Belmont has Six Rivers West matches at Cassville on Monday and at home against Highland on Tuesday.
Six Rivers Jamboree
(from Saturday, Aug. 30 @ Belmont)
Gold Pool: Benton 1–1, Potosi 1–1, Belmont 1–1.
*Benton wins the team title by defensive points allowed tie-breaker.
Gold Pool Scores
Belmont def. Benton 25–19, 17–25, 15–13
Potosi def. Belmont 20–25, 25–18, 15–8
Benton def. Potosi 25–23, 21–25, 15–4
Pool A: Potosi 4–0, Argyle 2–2, Ithaca 0–4.
Pool B: Belmont 3–1, Black Hawk 3–1, Cassville 0–4.
Pool C: Benton 3–1, Highland 2–2, River Ridge 1–3.
Potosi pool play scores
Potosi def. Argyle 26–24, 25–19
Potosi def. Ithaca 25–11, 25–15
Belmont pool play scores
Belmont tied Black Hawk 25–20, 15–25
Belmont def. Cassville 25–19, 25–13
Potosi stat leaders
Kills: Taylor Kennedy 40, Maddie Hawes 29, Abby Kasier 12. Blocks: Kennedy 12, Kaiser 11. Assists: Calie Gibson 67. Aces: Taryn Stappert 9. Digs: Stappert 35.
Belmont stat leaders
Kills: Jannie deHaan 35, Keegan Kamps 18, Alie Klein 17. Blocks: Brianna Richers 8, K. Kamps 4, Caitlyn Gilbertson 3. Assists: Katelyn Schobert 81. Aces: K. Kamps 6 deHaan 4, Riechers 3. Digs: Maddie Rand 29, Kamps 26, Paige Nolan 10.