Regardless of what rotation longtime coach Jill Ayers has put on the court, Manhattan Christian has continued to shine.
The team has dropped just six sets all season and continued their hot play Friday. Led by 13 kills, eight digs and a block from Kiersten Van Kirk, Christian swept Lone Peak 25-11, 25-14, 25-13 in a District 11C match.
The Eagles (10-0, 7-0) competed without junior middle hitter Eliana Kuperus, who was out of town on a college visit. But her teammates picked up the slack all the way around.
“Had to shuffle the lineup yet again,” said Ayers. “But they’re pretty versatile and they just went where I told them, and just played. It was nice to be able to do that without her. We missed her of course, but the other girls filled in fine.”
It was just the second contest for Van Kirk since returning from a concussion. The 6-foot-2 sophomore missed several weeks of action, thus Ayers is grateful to have her back in the lineup.
“It’s nice to have her because if you get stuck you can always go to the back row. With as tall as she is she can attack from the back row pretty efficiently,” Ayers said. “And it’s nice to have her hands back. If the setter’s out she’s right there to be able to do some setting.”
Taylor DeVries handled much of the setting against Lone Peak, dishing out 22 of the team’s 29 assists. The junior also had nine digs and six aces.
Hailey VanDyken chipped in with seven kills, while Maddie Liudahl had 10 digs.
The Eagles are still without senior Kellie Van Kirk, who suffered a concussion at a season-opening tournament in Choteau. While her return remains unknown, Ayers noted the team is nearly back to full strength with the postseason approaching.
“It’s nice to start to get the team back together when you look at the calendar. Districts are looming in less than three weeks,” she said. “It’s nice to be able to just start to getting everybody back so we can get everyone comfortable with the rotation and who we’re playing next too.”
Christian is back in action Monday with a match at Jefferson. It’s an addition to the schedule to make up for a tournament that was cancelled two weeks ago.
“We wanted a good match and I think that will be good for us,” said Ayers.
Manhattan Christian def. Lone Peak 25-11, 25-14, 25-13.
LONE PEAK (4-4) - Stats not provided.
MANHATTAN CHRISTIAN (10-0) - Kills: 30 (Kiersten Van Kirk 13). Digs: 43 (Maddie Liudhal 10, Taylor DeVries 9). Blocks: 1 (Van Kirk). Aces: 14 (DeVries 6). Assists: 29 (DeVries 22).