CLARK FORK — Emotions were high and tears were flowing prior to the Lady Cats match Saturday as they honored their six seniors.
Clark Fork volleyball head coach Michelle Valliere said the seniors have left their mark on the program.
“I started coaching five of them in third grade so we’ve been working at this awhile,” Michelle Valliere said. “I’m so happy to see them at this point getting to play a lot because last year we had so many seniors that they didn’t get to see a ton of playing time. It’s cool to let them be on the court and have their time to shine.”
Ellie Kiebert said senior night was something she had been looking forward to for a long time.
“It means a lot because watching two of my older sisters go through varsity sports and watching like four senior nights, I was so excited to have one finally and I didn’t cry which really surprised me,” she said.
But once the match started, it was all business for Clark Fork who took down Sandpoint JV in four sets 22-25, 28-26, 25-22, 26-24.
In the first set, Michelle Valliere started all six of her seniors to give them one last chance to play together. The seniors played the majority of the first set and were able to stay with the Bulldogs until Sandpoint earned three consecutive points with the score tied at 22-22 to capture the first game.
In the second set, Michelle Valliere put her normal starters in and the Lady Cats shifted their focus to securing a victory.
Clark Fork faced a 6-1 deficit early in the second game but lead by Kiebert and senior outside hitter Abbie Anderson the Lady Cats battled back. Trailing 19-23, it looked as though the Lady Cats were going to fall down 2-0 but with freshman setter Paige Valliere serving Clark Fork scored five straight points to take a 24-23 lead.
After trading points, Clark Fork finally claimed the game on an ace by Anderson.
In the third set, the two teams went back and forth but the Lady Cats prevailed to take a 2-1 advantage.
Now the Bulldogs backs were against the wall and they didn’t go down without a fight. Trailing 22-18, Sandpoint scored four consecutive points to tie it up.
However, the Lady Cats weren’t going to let the Bulldogs run their senior night as Kiebert blasted a kill to secure the match winning point for Clark Fork.
Kiebert said it was special to earn the game clinching point in her final home regular season match.
“It felt really good because I’m one of the captains and to be able to pull through and finish a game is something I should be able to do,” she said.
Kiebert finished with 10 kills and 13 digs and senior Aleehia Valliere had a team high 16 digs. Freshman setter Paige Valliere tallied 16 assists and sophomore Caiya Yanik added four blocks.
With the regular season over, Clark Fork (10-3, 8-0) will now host the district championship 1 p.m. next Saturday. The Lady Cats are the No. 1 seed in the championship and all Clark Fork has to do is win one match to secure a spot in state. A team would have to beat them twice to prevent them from advancing to state.
Kiebert said the team is ready for postseason play and wants to go further in state than last year.
“I want to go to the second day of state, that’s my state, that’s what I want ... because we’ve always won a game and then lost two to get out,” she said.