Joliet J-Hawks fly high at State Tournament

Alastair Baker
News Editor

Photo by Hank Nowak - Tayler Wright, Joliet, defends against Huntley Project.

Joliet volleyball coach, Colette Webber, believes 1989 was the last time the Lady J-Hawks made a dent at State and that time they finished 3rd in Class C.
“That’s a long time ago,” she pondered.
Last week the team surpassed all previous efforts by taking 3rd in the State Class B at the Brick Breeden Fieldhouse in Bozeman. In the process they claimed their first State trophy for Class B volleyball. Not bad for a team that finished 4th last year after returning from a 6-year hiatus from participating in State tournaments.
“These girls definitely surpassed my expectations this season,” said Webber.  “It was a blessing to go to State for a second year in a row and come out with a 3rd place trophy. I felt the girls played solid except for the undefeated semi final with Huntley. They played tight and afterwards conveyed they felt a lot of pressure. That will come with young players but we bounced back the next day and gave Florence 5 good games.  We didn't win but losing by 2 points in game five showed grit and heart.”  
The Lady J-Hawks opened their State accounts by defeating Shelby 25-13, 25-14, 25-23. The team made 42 kills with Makenna Bushman leading with 14 and Joelle Luoma on 10. There were 38 assists, Shayla Webber 20 and Luoma 10 with 10 aces served, Webber and Bushman sharing 3 each. A total of 66 digs were made; Tayler Wright 16, Bushman 15, and Webber 13 with Bushman making 1.5 blocks.
The next team to face Joliet was Three Forks who were trounced in 4 sets, after initially scaring the J-Hawks 11-25, 25-19, 25-18, 25-18.
Vanessa Nowak lead in kills with 15, Bushman 14, Webber 12 out of a team total of 45. Webber and Luoma shared 18 assists out of 41. The team served up 9 aces, Webber and Bushman again combining with 3 each. Webber led in digs with 20, while Skyler Wright and Luoma shared 12 out of a total of 79.
Bushman made the only block.
The win sent Joliet into the undefeated semi final against the favorites Huntley Project who played to form and defeated the Lady J-Hawks 25-8, 25-11, 25-14.
Bushman led in kills with 5 and served one ace.
However Joliet was now in the third place match against Florence in a taut 5-set thriller that went the way of the Lady Falcons, 21-25, 25-20, 25-16,18-25, 13-15.
Joliet made 55 Kills, Bushman 19, Nowak 16 and Webber 10 and served up 8 aces, Webber, Skyler and Wright all sharing 2 each. Luoma (25) and Webber (23) also dominated the assists. The team produced 103 digs, Webber on 22, Luoma 21, and Wright 20. Nowak made 2 of the 5 blocks this game.
“I was proud of their performance. This is a special group of girls.  They are a true team. We only lose two seniors, Vanessa Nowak and Tayler Wright.
"Vanessa was my smart, see the floor player.  She could see the holes on the floor and put the ball there.  She served consistently well all season and she came through solid at Divisionals and State,” said Webber.
“Tayler grew so much as a player this season.  Her leadership was huge for us and she didn't care who got the point.  She just wanted to win and that kind of leadership is huge from a Senior.  She put up a solid block on the outside pin and played great defense for us this season.”
“They will be missed but we will come back strong next season. We all feel incredibly blessed for the journey we have shared. What a fun ride,” said Coach Webber.


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