The Lady J-Hawks: A great team in the making

By 
Alastair Baker
News Editor
Thursday, November 12, 2020
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.joliet with the Southern B Divisional 2 nd place Trophy. Back row, left to right: Head Coach Colette Webber, Breanne Blain, Caitlin Miller, Merrin Schwend, Skyler Wright, Makenna Bushman, Kyelynn Coombe, ChelSea DuBeau, Tory Oswald. Front row, left to right: Savanna Warburton, Kylia Kliner, Annika Bushman. Photos by Hank Nowak

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Joliet's Merrin Schwend sets up Makenna Bushman against Huntley.

Joliet may have stumbled in their two encounters against Huntley Project at the Southern B Divisional tournament in Red Lodge last weekend but through it all, they took 2nd place and that’s what counts in the history books.
Up until an odd sort of fatigue seemed to envelop the team they looked invincible, almost like a cat playing with mice.
Teams came and plundered points from the J-Hawks but you always felt that the girls would win out in the end and they did. Nothing phased them, not even Huntley, at first.
Whitehall was the first to face down the Lady J-Hawks and was dispatched with ease, going down 25-18, 25-10. 25-9.
It was a masterful display by Joliet, supremely confident in all departments from kills to blocks, from assists to aces of which there were 11. In fact, Joliet polished off Whitehall with 3 aces in their final 5 serves.
What it is to win like that!
Makenna Bushman and Skyler Wright hustled the front line, moving back and forth, making life difficult for the forward line from Whitehall. Both girls shared the kills with 9 apiece as Whitehall succumbed to 32 this day. Wright and Bushman were everywhere this day also sharing blocks and digs, Wright making 11 and Bushman along with Merrin Schwend 7 each.
Schwend also delivered 26 assists to the attackers.
For the record in aces, Bushman served 3, Caitlin Miller, Savana Warburton, and Kylia Kliner 2 apiece.
Victory took them up against Colstrip who gave Joliet a tougher encounter and took the first set 24-26. Joliet regrouped quickly to take the next 3 sets 25-18, 25-21, 25-18 to face Huntley in the semi-finals.
Such is the well-oiled mechanics of the Joliet team that positive rotation of players is key to its success. So it was seen against Colstrip as Kyelynn Coombe and ChelSea DuBeau joined the fray to add even more potency to the attack.
Bushman, Wright, and  Schwend were ever-present but helped significantly by the others.
Coombe immediately collected 7 kills with Wright and made 2 blocks while DuBeau shared 13 digs with Bushman and served up 3 aces from 6.  
Schwend was there making an impressive 29 assists from 32 and Bushman added 20 more kills to her tally and 13 digs.
And for the 7th time this season, here came Huntley looming on the horizon. Things don’t come as easy for Huntley as they used to and Joliet has grown to such a force that the Project’s glass ceiling has cracked slightly over the past few years.
That being said Huntley did go through to take the Divisional title but they still had to get passed Joliet 25-16, 25-18, 22-25, 25-17. Huntley still had to endure the incredible attacking duo of Wright and Bushman who together made 25 kills from 41 and an impressive 40 digs, out of 91, DeBeau making up another 14.
Again Bushman strode around the court, serving up 2  aces and making 2.5 blocks. Coombe and DeBeau made up another 4.
Schwend as ever worked tirelessly as the supply route, making 33 assists from 34.

The defeat sent the Lady J-Hawks into the third-place game once again facing Colstrip who stepped up a gear this time but still fell short as Joliet defeated them 22-25. 25-21. 25-14, 25-20.
Colstrip felt the full sting of Joliet submitting to 45 kills and 9 aces. Bushman on 18, Wright 14, and DeBeau 10 made the majority of those kills with Coombe serving 4 of the aces.
Schwend made 100 percent assists with 40 as Coombe and Wright collected 5.5 blocks from 8. In digs, Wright made 26, Bushman  18, and Coombe 11.
And finally, for the 8th time of asking this season, Joliet and Huntley sparred off in the Championship game. What a finale but as they go this was a little flat as Joliet succumbed to visible tiredness and lost in three straight sets, 25-23, 25-19, 25-20.
Having seen them during this tournament and seeing their energy and preciseness, it was a surprise to witness fundamental errors made and lapses in communication. It’s been a long haul for this team in the last weeks and tonight wasn’t theirs. 
Coach Collette Webber was very aware of the change of pace but remains optimistic.
“They were tired. I felt a shift from last weekend.  I don’t know why but hopefully we can rally for State.  Losing can be a good thing if we can be hungry again to beat Huntley or whoever it is that we face this weekend,” she said.
Huntley sensed the kill making Joliet defend with 76 digs, Dubeau with 15, Bushman 14, and Wright on 13 and 12 blocks, Coombe 3.5, Bushman 3.5, and Wright 3.
Schwend kept up the supply line with 27 assists but attack wise the numbers were low, 27 kills, with Bushman and Wright on 10 each and only 2 aces from DeBeau and Bushman.
Joliet is into the State B finals and will face Fairfield, Nov.  12 at 4 p.m. in Shelby. Should they win,  they may face Anaconda.
“We opened with Anaconda last year at State and beat them in 3 but they are a force this year with a 17-0 record. I think they will be very tough,” said Webber.

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