Less than two weeks after their first meeting, the Flathead and Glacier volleyball teams will share the court today in another crosstown match.
The Bravettes won the first encounter at Glacier High School in straight sets, 25-20, 25-23, 25-19, but Flathead coach Leon Wilcox said he expects Glacier to put up a tough fight in today’s rematch.
“I’m sure Glacier’s going to be bringing their game,” Wilcox said. “It’s crosstown and I expect them to bring everything.”
Both teams are at or near the top of the Western AA standings and both have played well since the first crosstown match. Flathead (7-0 Western AA, 11-2) is unbeaten in conference play and 2-0 since beating the Wolfpack. Glacier (4-2 Western AA, 10-4) pummeled Big Sky in its only conference game since losing to Flathead, and is in a three-way tie for second place with Helena High and Helena Capital.
Led by junior Sarah Risenhoover who ranks second in Western AA in blocks per set (1.09), Flathead’s blockers flustered Glacier in the first crosstown match, something that could once again be a factor today.
“(Risenhoover) does put up a good block and I think Glacier’s strength is their middle attack,” Wilcox said. “If we can slow them in the middle that should make things tougher for them.”
Slowing down Glacier’s middle hitters hasn’t been an easy task. Wolfpack senior Tiffany Marks and junior Cassi Hashley rank third and fifth in the conference in kills per set with 3.3 and 2.6 respectively.
Flathead also features a potent offense led by senior outside hitters Cassie Krueger, Western AA’s leader in kills per set (5.0) and Kwyn Johnson, the conference’s leader in attack efficiency (.338), and senior setter Emily Russell, who leads the conference in assists per set (10.17).
Flathead also has a strong service game, ranking first in Western AA in aces per set and boasting three of the top six individuals. Russell leads Western AA (1.22) while junior Emma Andrews ranks third (1.04) and Krueger ranks sixth (0.52).
Glacier isn’t far behind. Sophomore Hannah Liss and senior Kailea Vaudt rank second and fourth in the conference in aces per set and the Wolfpack rank second as a team.
Wilcox said having good servers is an advantage when preparing for a strong-serving team like Glacier.
“We prepare for that every day,” he said. “We’re one of the top serving teams in the state, so we’re constantly passing against those same serves and I think that makes us pretty tough.”
With five conference games remaining, Wilcox said his team has gotten tougher as the season has gone on.
The Bravettes have only dropped two sets in conference play and are eying the conference title.
“I think the our kids are getting a little hungry,” Wilcox said. “They’re getting closer to their goal, which is to win the conference and I think it’s gotten them a little more focused.”
The first crosstown match provided a loud, exciting atmosphere and Wilcox said he expects today’s match at Flathead High School to have a similar feel.
“I’m sure it’s going to be loud,” he said. “Our gym is smaller than Glacier’s, so when you pack all those people in there, even on a Thursday night, it gets pretty rambunctious, so I foresee it being a loud and exciting crosstown.”
The match begins at 7 p.m.