J-Hawk volleyball raises bar, takes third at State

By: 
CHRIS MCCONNELL
Outlook staff writer

When the Joliet volleyball team began the 2017 season they were perceived as underdogs, but Coach Colette Webber had a feeling this team would be special.
And indeed they were, setting several new high-water marks for the program.
Only two teams made it out of the 4B District tournament this year.
The Joliet volleyball program had never made it to the undefeated semi-finals at State.
They had never brought home a Class B state trophy in the history of the school.
And they accomplished this with a young team with only two seniors.
Webber said the team “definitely surpassed my expectations this season.  It was a blessing to go to State for a second year in a row and come out with a 3rd place trophy.” The J-Hawks took 4th last year.
The J-Hawks finished their record-setting season firmly planted as one of the best teams in the state, coming out of the toughest conference and division in the state. They took 2nd at Districts, 3rd at Divisionals and 3rd at State in Bozeman, which saw all four Southern B qualifiers making it to the quarterfinals.
Four J-Hawk players made All-tournament teams.
Sophomore setter and outside hitter Shayla Webber made First All-tournament team. Senior middle hitter Vanessa Nowak made the Second team. Freshman middle hitter Makenna Bushman and sophomore setter and outside hitter Joelle Luoma received Honorable Mention honors.
The J-Hawks kicked off their 2017 State Tournament by knocking off Shelby–the #1 seed in the North–in straight games 25-13 25-14 25-23 with Bushman, Luoma, Webber and Tayler Wright leading the way, statistically.
The J-Hawks faced Three Forks in the quarterfinal–a team who had beaten them twice in Divisionals in Red Lodge. Joliet showed focus and poise by knocking off the Wolves in four games 11-25 25-19 25-18 25-18 to advance to the undefeated semi finals and face Huntley Project.
The only challenge Joliet didn’t meet this year was defeating Huntley Project, but no other team did either, as the Red Devils finished the year with an undefeated season. But Huntley Project, Joliet and Jefferson showed the Southern B is the strongest division in the state, taking 1st, 3rd, and 4th place.
The J-Hawks fell to Florence-Carlton–the #1 seed in the West–in ​five games in the second place match to take 3rd and secure the program’s first Class B state trophy.
Webber said, “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 five good games.  We didn’t win but losing by 2 points in game five showed grit and heart.  I was proud of their performance.”
Fourth place last year. Third place this year. And now they only lose two seniors and will have another year of experience under their belts. This team is poised to continue to check off accomplishments and Webber’s enthusiasm and optimism for the future is easy to understand, and to get behind.
“This is a special group of girls.  They are a true team. We only lose two seniors. 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!”

Joliet versus Shelby  
25-13, 25-14, 25-23
Kills: 42 (Makenna Bushman 14, Joelle Luoma 10). Assists: 38 (Shayla Webber 20, Luoma 10). Aces 10  (Webber 3, Bushman 3). Digs 66  (Tayler Wright 16, Bushman 15, Webber 13). Blocks: 4 (Bushman 1.5).

Joliet versus Three Forks  
11-25, 25-19, 25-18, 25-18
Kills: 45 (Vanessa Nowak 15, Bushman 14, Webber 12). Assists: 41 (Webber 18, Luoma 18). Aces: 9  (Webber 3, Bushman 3). Digs: 79 (Webber 20, Skyler Wright 12, Luoma 12). Blocks: 1 (Bushman).

Joliet vs. Huntley Project
8-25 11-25 14-25
Kills: 14 (Bushman 5). Assists: 12 (Webber 8). Aces: 2 (Bushman, Webber 1). Digs: 47 (Webber 13). Blocks: 2 (Vanessa Nowak 1). 

Joliet versus Florence for 2nd and 3rd place  
21-25, 25-20, 25-16,18-25, 13-15
Kills: 55 (Bushman 19, Nowak 16, Webber 10). Assists: 52 (Luoma 25, Webber 23). Aces: 8 (Webber 2, Luoma 2, S. Wright 2). Digs: 103 (Webber 22, Luoma 21, S. Wright 20). Blocks: 5 (Nowak 2).

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