The Columbia Falls girls volleyball team will look to build on last year’s success, when girls took fourth at the state Class A tournament.
And the Wildkats have the firepower to do it. They have six returning players over 5 feet 10 inches and lost just two seniors, Tiffany Hummer and Haley Belgarde.
Last year, the Kats won the Northwest A crown, beating favored Frenchtown for the divisional title with seven freshmen on the court.
“I’m very excited about this team,” coach Josie Brown said. “We have a lot of depth and a lot of height. They’re a hard-working group of girls, with a lot of intensity and a lot of heart.”
Ten players from last year’s state team are back, including seniors Winter Kemppainen, Ciera Finberg, Shaylene Fishel and Carla Nicosia. Kaity Presnell also joins the squad this year.
There’s also some standout sophomores in Cydney Finberg, Morgan Stenger and Kiara Burlage — all excellent athletes.
The goal for the squad is pretty direct, Brown said.
“Get back to state and win more games,” she said.
The last time the Wildkats won a state title was in 1996. This team definitely has the potential to be in the mix, but they’ll be tested early this season. The Kats open with a home doubleheader against Corvallis and Hamilton on Aug. 30. Corvallis won the state Class A title last year.
In the Northwest A conference, Brown expects Frenchtown to be tough again this season, and Whitefish has some young talent as well. Polson is usually challenging, and Libby has been playing ball all summer, so it should be a competitive conference.
The top two teams in the divisional tourney advance to state.