Volleyball: Libby squad set for successful season

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The Libby High School volleyball team -- with Head Coach Cindy Ostrem-Johnston on the near end -- jumps "all in" before practice on Friday, Aug. 17. (Ben Kibbey/The Western News)

With a varsity squad of experienced juniors and seniors, the Libby High School volleyball team is ready to turn past lessons into further success.

Several Lady Loggers are returning with experience from the state tournament last year, said Head Coach Cindy Ostrem-Johnston. And some seniors could be getting their fourth letter.

“As long as they do what it takes to earn that,” she said.

The roster has fluctuated along with school enrollment, and Ostrem-Johnston recalled a year they had to cut 15 girls after tryouts. This year, there were no cuts.

Still, Libby will have all three teams this year — varsity, junior varsity and froshmore — with 26 players across them.

That so many girls not only come out but come back each year says something about their dedication, Ostrem-Johnston said.

“The kids that have been in the program know that it’s a long season and it’s demanding. They have to have the commitment. They’ve gotta make the sacrifices,” she said. “And I feel good that they’re willing to do that.”

While there is volleyball starting with 5th grade to bring girls into the sport, the intensity ratchets up quickly at high school, she said.

Especially as a fall sport, volleyball is the first experience a freshman has of any kind of high school competition. Even that first tryout, with all four grades together, has the potential to be intimidating.

But the older players on the team help to make that easier on the younger girls, she said.

“I have a really good group of older kids — the six seniors and the four juniors — that’s kind of taken these younger ones under their wing,” she said. “They’ve all been there, so they know what it’s like, coming through and not having that experience and the skills.”

Having a dedicated coaching staff helps as well, she said.

“It takes a lot of time, effort and work to get those kids up to the level they need to be,” she said.

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