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Exuberant volleyball Squaws on that late October roll

October 29, 2010

Jim Hopkins

    As the 2010 volleyball season winds down, Bellmont is definitely turning on the juice, and the inspired play on Tuesday against Western was proof of that.
    "It's the last chance for six seniors and another year is passing for the underclassmen. When the end is near, things seem to get more important and the best comes out of players," explains Bellmont's Craig Krull, who will take his girls to Plymouth Saturday in the renewel of the volleyball semistate.
    A better summary: This is what we play for," offered Bellmont's Alex Fuelling.
    The Squaws have won 16 consecutive matches, and have pretty much dominated on their side of the tourney thus far, getting stronger and more consistent as the tourney unfolds.
    "The girls do tend to raise the level of play if needed, and knowing that all teams are playing to continue on in the tourney, we know that we have to keep our level of intensity high and play the best all of the time," said Krull.
    If the victorious push continues Saturday, Bellmont will have to play two matches within a five-hour period, something that happened on several weekends during the season.
    "We have the mentality that your body can be worn out, but if you have a strong mental game you can find that extra push and energy to get through anything. And that was apparent in the Western match," noted Krull.
    Bellmont jumped out quickly against Western in the regional final Tuesday, relaxed, then the Panthers put on the pressure, cutting one game to two points and another to just three very late. Bellmont regrouped and turned back Western and 6-2 middle hitter Sable Staller to win both games. In the third game, the Squaws kept their high-energy approach and won going away while Western yielded to fatigue.
    Everyone who played did extremely well on Tuesday as the stats indicated. The hitters, Alex Fuelling, Madison Schultz and a fired-up Payton Schultz were spectacular, reeling off 45 kills between them. Madison had an incredible eight blocks and outplayed Staller hands down. And senior outside hitter Emily Pierce seemed to be there with a kill in key situations, never backing down.
    However, the setting of junior Steph Shoup and the hustle of senior libero Chelsea Colclasure set the tone.
    "Chelsea can play that way every match, and she's been very good in the tourney," praised Krull.
    Colclasure had 18 digs and kept the ball alive several times when Staller passed the block. Shoup had an amazing 45 assists, adding 5 digs, 3 blocks and 2 kills.
    Krull wouldn't pick out players for this Saturday. "We have to play like we can and be ready to do what is needed. Whether the player is in the match or just on the bench we try to compete as a team, so eery player is important. I know 8 or 9 kids might play when it comes down to it, but everybody is a part of the success we are having," said Krull, who coached the 2007 Bellmont team to the state title.
    Someone asked me the other day, "do you really think that Bellmont can win state?"
    Had to be a casual fan. Of course, Bellmont took state in volleyball and roared right through the competition in 2007 to get that crown. This team is very similar, and is certainly good enough to win state.
    The Squaws have the talent, the go-to slugger in Fuelling, other frontliners who can rocket the ball to the floor, a top-notch setter in Steph Shoup, a great scrambler in Chelsea Colclasure, and a great supporting cast. Bellmont can go nine deep if they have to, and the remainder of the players are also strong, and would be standouts on most other teams. Sisters Bailee and Holly Hankenson ... well they are pretty good now and are going to be something(s) special in the future.
    Add in some deserie and big-time play with it all on the line, and there is the recipe. All they have to do is convince the other teams that they are the best.
    I like Bellmont's chances.

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