The Libby High School volleyball team capped off another good week of wins, winning at Columbia Falls in three last Tuesday and returning to beat Browning in three at home Saturday.
Emotions peaked Saturday, but not just because of the homecoming competition. Saturday was senior night, and Libby Head Coach Cindy Ostrem-Johnston told the six players and four managers who will be moving on after this season just how much working with them has meant to her.
After this year, Ostrem-Johnston will be moving on as well, she said. She plans to retire, both from teaching and from coaching.
This isn’t the first time she has considered closing out her career on a high note, Ostrem-Johnston said.
In 2014, she had planned to retire after a final season with her group of seniors graduating that year.
“They were a very special group to me, and I thought, you know, this will be the group to go out with,” she said.
But then she saw her current seniors coming up through the program in their 8th grade tournaments, and realized she might regret if she passed up to opportunity to be their coach.
So she stayed on, and she’s happy she did.
“This is another special group of kids here. It’s been well-worth hanging around and coaching them,” she said.
“They’re good kids, and they’re very talented too,” she said.
Looking back at the past four years of coaching them and helping them to become the athletes and young women they are today, Ostrem Johnston said she is just thankful to be a part of it.
The Lady Loggers got to both open and close out the homecoming week, which added some fun to their matches, Ostrem-Johnston said.
The Wildkats gave them a battle last Tuesday, taking an 8-3 lead in the third set. But, Libby came back to win in three.
Ostrem-Johnston said she was proud of the team for showing that mental toughness in the third set.
She was also happy with where the Lady Loggers’ serving was in both matches, with 97 percent against the Wildkats and 93 percent against the Lady Indians.
Against Columbia Falls, senior McKenzie Proffitt had what Ostrem-Johnston said was the best match of her volleyball career with hitting and blocking, and she pushed out a .389 attack percentage. Proffitt even beat out usual team kill leaders and fellow seniors Mehki Sykes and Jayden Winslow for kills.
In both matches, Ostrem-Johnston commented that the team has shown they have the ability to adapt and pick up for each other if one of them has an off night.
“We always point out who had the best games, but they all contributed really well tonight,” she said after the Browning win. “They had each other’s backs out there, and when things weren’t going well, they were covering for each other, and playing well together.”
Yet, one player did still have an especially good night, she noted.
“(They) all contributed to our win, but Jayden Winslow was the ‘Queen of the Court’ with 100 percent serving, 11 kills (.625), 18 digs and passed a 2.30 on serve receive,” Ostrem-Johnston said by email.
That .625 attack percentage stood out especially, even with a team attack percentage of .409 for the match.
With all the distractions and demands on their time and energy this week -- some even had SATs to take Saturday on top of everything with homecoming -- Ostrem Johnston said she was pleased with how the girls performed.
“I thought they finished well, being senior night,” she said. “And that’s what we wanted to do, is go out and play with energy and pride tonight.”
Tuesday, Oct. 2
Libby (8-0 Conf, 11-0) 3, Columbia Falls 0
Sets: 25-16, 25-20, 25-18
L: 5 ace, 32 kill, 30 assist, 7 block, 58 dig; Alli Collins 12 ace, 1 kill, 28 assist, 3 block, 7 dig; Sheyla Gallagher 2 kill, 1 assist, 2 dig; Jayden Winslow 3 ace, 9 kill, 3 block, 11 dig; Kenzie Proffitt 10 kill, 5 block, 2 dig; Mehki Sykes 7 kill; Ashlynn Monigold 10 dig; Kylee Quinn 1 ace, 2 dig; Linsey Walker 4 dig; Jessika Jones 2 kill, 3 dig; Emma Gruber 1 kill, 1 assist, 17 dig
Saturday, Oct. 6
Libby (9-0 Conf, 12-0) 3, Browning 0
Sets: 25-7, 25-10, 25-11
L: 10 ace, 43 kill, 40 assist, 6 block, 48 dig; Alli Collins 2 ace, 38 assist, 4 dig; Sheyla Gallagher 3 kill;
Jayden Winslow 11 kill, 18 dig; Kenzie Proffitt 8 kill, 1 dig; Mehki Sykes 11 kill, 5 block, 2 dig; Ashlynn Monigold 1 ace, 6 dig; Kylee Quinn 4 ace, 1 assist; Linsey Walker 1 assist, 6 dig; Jessika Jones 10 kill, 1 block; Emma Gruber 3 ace, 11 dig