Winter on volleyball: The wins will come

Abe Winter
Star Columnist

The city’s two better-known volleyball teams — Miles Community College (MCC) and Custer County District High School (CCDHS) — haven’t fared well of late.

MCC, though, gets a pass in this its first season after a nine-year layoff for the sport at the two-year school. It’s basically freshmen  — 15 of them, 13 from Montana — against a lot of sophomores.

And it has shown, especially in matches against NJCAA Division II powers such as Bismarck and fellow Division I opponents from Colorado and Wyoming.

To me, it’s still a plus. Disregarding the win-loss record, it’s a chance for Custer County residents to see the sport again at MCC — and it allows another 15 to play the sport at a high level.

Victories will come, perhaps not this year, but down the road I would expect the program to keep upgrading under energetic coach Chase Soennichsen.

“These Region IX teams are tough,” he said. “But we are seeing major improvements . …  As each match goes on we are finding different ways to be successful score-wise.

“These pre-season tournaments, especially for a new program, are showing us exactly what we need to work on and get better at in order to be successful in the end.”

It might be the same for the CCDHS Cowgirls. First-year coach Kodi Malnaa, in comments to me, indicated big things were expected by this group after having the gut-wrenching task of reducing the number of players from 42 to 27 following tryouts.

The Cowgirls got hit with a strange schedule that includes only five home matches, four of which are upcoming, starting Sept. 30 and wrapping up Oct. 27 on Senior Parents Night. Meanwhile, as road warriors, they played their fifth match away from home Tuesday in Glendive, losing 3-1 after winning the first set.

So they still have no triumphs against four Eastern A foes. That’s not a good indication of what may come in the postseason, but Malnaa continues to be optimistic, saying “things definitely will turn around.”

If Montana has any Class A teams that can stay with Billings Central, I’d be surprised. Olivia Moten-Schell, their star hitter, believes the Rams will be state champions. They are confident, she said, believing they can win every time they take the court.

Maybe that will be the case in Miles City in the near future — at both MCC and CCDHS.



— I doubt I’ll ever understand the life and competitive nature of a bull rider, especially after seeing on TV Jess Lockwood of nearby Volborg carried off after being knocked out and injuring his back in Springfield, Missouri, two weekends ago.

Then he passes the concussion protocol, gets some physical therapy and — voila! — he’s riding six days later in Austin, Texas. And winning with a 3-for-3 performance to get within 85 points of the PBR leader Kaique Pacheco of Brazil.

Another performance like that and Lockwood could be the new leader at the end of this weekend’s big event on Long Island, New York.

— Tristan Hirsch, a CCDHS running back, is more powerful than his size would indicate. Standing 5-foot-8 and weighing 165 pounds, Hirsch rushed for 189 yards in the 26-14 victory over Belgrade two weeks ago and 164 last week in the 19-2 win over Fergus in the slop at Lewistown. Hirsch suffered a hip injury early in Game 2 against Laurel, but was cleared by a doctor to play the next week.

— Sidney and Laurel are the last of the unbeaten Class A football teams in Montana. They are 4-0 and will play each other Oct. 6 in Laurel. That’s a week before Sidney plays in Miles City.

— Remember Ben Voss, the running back who went inside and outside, scoring three touchdowns, in leading Billings Central over CCDHS 21-14 in the season opener? According to statistics, Voss leads Montana Class A in rushing with 651 yards, in touchdowns with 11 and in total points with 66.

— From the “there’s one on every team’s roster” department, I’m sure he didn’t intend it but MCC men’s basketball coach Chase Tait has recruited a player named Daquazemarr. Yes, Daquazemarr Wyche is a freshman from Stafford, Texas, and his first name will have to be checked in the program every time I use it. I’m sure spell check will hit on it every time.

— In the early weeks of coaching his football team, Dickinson State coach/athletic director Pete Stanton of Baker now must search for a new men’s basketball coach. Justin Weztel, who coaches DSU for three seasons, is leaving for a new job at an undisclosed organization.

Wetzel’s 2016-17 Blue Hawks won their first regular season conference title since 2001.

(Contact Abe Winter at or 406-234-0450.)