Panther

With just four matches remaining in the regular season Belgrade’s volleyball team was seeking a strong finish heading into the postseason. That got off to a rough start Saturday.

The Panthers struggled in nearly every aspect in an Eastern AA defeat to Billings Senior. The team did not record an ace nor a block in a 25-14, 25-19, 25-15 loss.

While it was Belgrade’s third consecutive defeat against a conference opponent, the previous two defeats were closer matches.

“We did not come out and play to our fullest potential,” Belgrade head coach Brit Murphy said. “We made a lot of unforced errors all across the board today and even though they were giving a full effort we just weren’t able to execute.”

Josie Blazina led Belgrade with six kills, while Tayler Thomas had five. But the team finished with just 22 kills and failed to generate any points from the service line.

The Broncs (12-8, 5-6 Eastern AA) managed to keep the Panthers off balance throughout the match with adjustments to their rotation and received a balanced attack offensively.

“They mixed up their rotation multiple times, so we weren’t able to line up our strength against their weaknesses,” said Murphy. “Because everytime we did that they had already switched it around on us. So we were having a hard time adjusting our defense to what they were giving us offensively.”

Still, Murphy credited her team for remaining focused.

“I think that the girls did a really good job of overcoming adversity,” she said. “There were some tough calls in that game and they did a good job coming together and trying to focus on the next point. There were a couple of really long rallies where they were being really scrappy and getting the ball back over the net, but weren’t able to finish it.”

Mya Pospisil led Senior defensively with 10 digs, while Rylee Kogolshak and Kara Pospisil combined for 13. Mya Pospisil also had three aces.

Olivia Wegner led the Panthers defensively with nine digs, while Arin Eaton had eight. Kylee Campbell chipped in with 14 assists.

Belgrade (6-14, 2-9 Eastern AA) wraps up home portion of its schedule Thursday against Bozeman. The Panthers are currently the league’s No. 7 seed entering Eastern AA Divisional, which begins Nov. 4, but Murphy noted there’s still an opportunity to move up.

“We’d definitely like to get another W on the board and we’re going to put in a lot of work at practice this week and pick up the intensity and pick up the focus a little bit,” she said. “Get refocused so we can bring our best to the next match.”

Billings Senior def. Belgrade 25-14, 25-19, 25-16.

BELGRADE (6-14) - Kills: 22 (Josie Blazina 6). Digs: 31 (Olivia Wegner 9, Arin Eaton 8). Blocks: 2 (Kylee Campbell 1). Aces: 0. Assists: 22 (Campbell 14).

BILLINGS SENIOR (12-8) - Stats not provided.

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