The younger version of the Saco-Hinsdale Wildfire made their appearance at the Malta Invitational last weekend and eventually lost out in bracket play to TriCity.
They did take out Poplar along the way, winning the first of two games 25-19 and 25-22 in a three-game match. The other local team, Nashua, lost to Grass Range in the first round.
It was the only victory for Saco-Hinsdale that day as they lost to every other opponent they played.
"Those first four games in pool play were a little scary because it was the first games for some of those kids at the high school level," said Wildfire head coach Kathy Siroky.
After losing four starting seniors to graduation and now starting freshmen, last weekend was a trial by fire and unfortunately the young team wasn't ready.
"We started two freshmen and they realized it's a big change from junior high volleyball to varsity ball," said coach Siroky about the weekend. "I think it's just the jitters and I'm hoping it's all gone."
She went on to say that volleyball is a game of errors and eventually players will have to learn to shake off their mistakes and play on.
"We did some good things. We played with intensity for about half of the game and we need to keep it up throughout the whole game," said coach Siroky.
Though the team has plenty of talent and even showed some impressive offense and defense, at times it looked defeated.
Coach Siroky emphasized that at the point the younger players look defeated, it is up to the upperclassmen to pick the team up – something that hopefully will come with more time.
"We have some little things to fix and we're working on those," coach Siroky said.
In their win against Poplar, the young Wildfire showed that they can play and indeed win, which may be a confidence booster going into the season.
"Against Poplar I think the girls realized that they could compete," said coach Siroky. "They were digging up balls and hitting hard and looking for holes in the court. They grew up."
Senior Hanna Whitaker and freshman Jada Sudbrack provided the team with much needed aces in their victory.
Courtney Capdeville, Alana Malmend, Mickayla Johnson and Sudbrack all recorded kills, according to coach Siroky.
"Courtney provided some very good net play, and Mickayla played good at the net," she said.
Coach Siroky told the PCN how proud she was of her team stepping up, and fighting back despite their early losses.
The team lost a player due to a concussion during the Malta Invitational.
The team goes to Lustre Christian tomorrow for its first conference match.
The team is unaware of what they will see from Lustre because it is a school that hosts a few foreign exchange students and the dynamic of the team varies per year.
Then they face Opheim for their home opener on Friday.
Opheim is coming off a cooperative agreement with Scobey, due to the fact that the number of players are up.
Scobey last year was a strong team under that co-op, meaning some or many of those players may have come from Opheim.
These games will no doubt challenge the young Wildfire.
The game against Lustre is at 6 p.m. tomorrow in Lustre and the home opener against Opheim is in Saco at around 5:30 p.m.
MALTA INVITATIONAL RESULTS
Round 1– Scobey def. Harlem, 25-13, 25-15; Grass Range def. Nashua; Plentywood def. Rocky Boy, 25-13, 25-7; Saco/Hinsdale def. Poplar.
Round 2 – Chinook def. Scobey 25-21, 25-24; Grass range def. Highwood; Malta def. Plentywood 25-22, 25-22; TriCity def. Saco/Hinsdale.
Semifinal – Grass Range def. Chinook 25-18, 25-17; Malta def. Tri City 25-12, 25-23.
Championship – Grass Range def. Malta. 25-21, 25-14.